Myth or Fact? Perfect Scores = Ivy League

If you search up, for instance, the acceptance rate for Stanford University, it would be an astounding 5%. It is commonly theorized that colleges, especially the Ivy League schools like Harvard or Princeton, have become harder to get accepted into. With many students beginning to grasp the importance of an education, they become more competitive. When questioned why a freshman in Glen A. Wilson High School with no coding experience, took AP Computer Science A - a course that a junior would usually take after Computer Science Essentials and AP Computer Science Principles - his reply was short,

“I wanted to get ahead.”

Colleges are now harder to get into ever since the education bar was raised significantly in the early 2007s. The chances of you getting into Stanford currently is very low even with perfect admissions test scores. Why? Because perfect admissions test scores do not satisfy colleges anymore. You need more than that. There are many other top-notch colleges that are much less selective. Based on data from the 2014 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), only 70 colleges have a less than 25 percent chance of admission. Only 6 percent of colleges admit fewer than a third of their applicants.

There are two major reasons on why students despite having top scores, perfect grades, and a lot of extracurricular activity, are not accepted to a top college. However, isn’t that what counselors advised? To get good grades and be in a lot of extracurriculars? It is a common myth that perfect GPA, test scores, and a shopping list of extracurriculars can guarantee a spot in an Ivy League School.  What’s worse, a lot of what we think that can put us beyond our classmates, might actually have the opposite effect.

The first reason is that students take “all” the tough courses. After all, it does make sense right? “Top school look for people who challenge themselves academically”. So therefore, the more AP Classes and honors classes you take, the better right? No. These classes requires a lot of study time outside of class and usually maxes out the student’s free time, which limits them to do anything else. Those other “things” are what make some students stand out more. Students are all hearing the same advice, so they are all doing the same thing, ending up looking like every applicant. So what to do? Students should absolutely take the hardcore classes, but not all of them. For instance, if there’s five AP Classes offered, take maybe three or four, not all five. Ultimately, the goal is not to think about the number of classes, but rather if you have time to do other things.

The second reason is that student do whatever it takes to increase their test scores. When it comes to admission profiling, SAT and ACT scores matter, but over focusing on these tests, strips the soul purpose away, which is building a unique profile to stand out from the crowd. Students should value a high score, but not to the expense of other activities. Students should pick a time, usually a semester before the real test, to rigorously drill down the concepts. They should also take the practice exams a few times before taking the real exam, to ensure a high score.

With these two problems out of the way, the student has time to engage in extracurriculars and is given the opportunity to pursue leadership positions, do community service, or maybe even a sport. If there is one reason that unites these two, it’s because that all students want to get into the top notch schools need to be doing less of the stuff that doesn’t exactly make a big impact, so they can begin doing more of what does. For students that have a packed schedule of tough classes, give them permission to figure out what really matters to them, why they are here on this planet, and then devoting the time to pursue that.

Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg via Getty Images




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