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Ask the AdCom: Getting Into An Ivy League School – Is It Still Possible?

August 06, 2013 :: Admissionado Team

You’ve all read the sobering headlines: “Lowest Admissions Rates for the Ivy League… EVER.” It’s the same headline year after year; the admissions game is getting evermore competitive with no signs of slowing down. Here are the stark statistics for applicants into the Class of 2017:


Acceptance Rate

















Seems scary, right? About 1 out of every 20 applicants gets into Harvard, and only 3 out of every 20 gets into Cornell. “Tons of students get rejected!” you cry, “and I’m just going to be another one of those negative statistics!” Before you have a panic attack and throw yourself a pity party, check this out:

If you’re an amazing applicant, these statistics mean nothing.

In other words, college admissions is not a game a chance. The 5.8% of applicants that were accepted to Harvard weren’t randomly selected—they got in because they deserved to. They created incredible applications that humanized them and also showed great potential for future success.

Here’s another thing people don’t consider when looking at these statistics: the acceptance rates go down every year only because there are more and more applicants. Ivy League schools accept the same number of kids year after year (for Harvard, it’s around 2000). The fact that more people are applying doesn’t necessarily mean that better people are applying; oftentimes, it’s the opposite. After all, Harvard is on the common app, and many students apply on a whim, figuring, “Why the heck not?”

So is getting into an Ivy League school possible? Of course! If you’re a well-rounded candidate with solid grades, meaningful extracurricular activities, and impressive essays, it’s not only a possibility… it’s pretty much a guarantee. Nobody with “the goods” gets rejected across the board. It just doesn’t happen. Someone who can’t get into at least one Ivy League school either a) doesn’t have a strong background, or b) is unable to craft a compelling, humanizing application. Most times, the former is the reason, but the latter is sadly not uncommon.

Here at Admissionado, we get incredibly depressed to hear about fantastic students who created subpar applications. That’s the greatest sin in the application world. If you’re a stellar applicant but can’t present yourself in a way that humanizes you and shows vast future potential, you’re doing a great injustice to yourself.

If you’ve got the goods, it’s not only possible but probable to get accepted into the Ivy League… as long as you craft a worthy, representative application.


By Stephen Black, Admissionado Senior Consultant