Friday, June 7, 2013

Getting Into The Ivy League

by Jillian B.

It's that time of year again, when high school seniors, as well as those looking to get into one of the country's top MBA programs, stare blankly at the admission essay questions on their screen and ask themselves:

1. What are schools really looking for?
2. How can I make my application stand out?
3. Do I even have a chance of getting in?

I would like to answer all of these questions for you, and perhaps make the college and MBA application process just a little bit easier. In other words, shed some good light! And, perhaps I am in a great position to do just that:

I am a former Harvard interviewer, as well as a Harvard graduate. I have been helping students, both college and MBA clients, get into the country's top schools. So, guess what, it's your lucky day! I specialize in the Ivy League.

So, back to the stated questions, so you can actually get some good information - What is it that the schools are really looking for (especially the Ivy League programs)? I believe that the answer can be found in two words: confidence and individuality.

In other words, yes, your grades are important, yes, your test scores need to be as high as possible, yes, you need to have a strong assortment of as many AP courses you can take (if you're an undergrad), and equally strong work experience (preferably with a known company) if you're applying for an MBA.

But once you have that (because why would you be applying to an Ivy League school if you didn't think you could compete at all at that level) the next important thing is YOUR UNIQUE EXPERIENCE.

By this I mean things in your background that make you different, that are going to make you stand out. Things that are going to make you different than simply being "another suburbian high school student from NJ," or "just" another financial guy from New York.

Not to say the top schools don't accept a LOT of students who fall into these two categories (believe me, they do) ... your competition is just going to be stronger because of that applicant pool and because admissions officers like to diversify.

So, the answer to my question, no matter what your background, is always, always, always to ask yourself, HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?

What is there in your background that makes you unique? That's what the admissions officers want to see, as they paint a picture of you in their mind. You will increase your chances astromically, if you give them something to paint with.

Were you raised in a remote village in India? Did you immigrate from Russia? Are you training for the Olympics in ice skating, or do you compete at a very high level in equestrian sports? Have you built your own guitar?

Did you grow up in a fishing community in Alaska, or was yours the only Jewish family in a strict Southern Baptist neighborhood in the deep South? Have you served in the U.S. Army? Do you own any patents?

Are you interested in investing in commercial real-estate? Or, are you a bio-tech entrepreneur who started your own company from the ground up (regardless if it failed).

All true stories from essays in the past. All very interesting.

And, that is what an admissions committee is looking for - this is the big secret that will give you an edge - something interesting. And everyone, in my opinion, has had or done something of interest in their life, even if they are too close to it to really see it for themselves.

So, should you even apply to an Ivy League school, is it just a waste of time? Do you even have a chance? Yes, you have a chance, a good chance - if you have the grades, and the test scores, and the academic background and experience. You are then, as they say, a "contender."

Will you get in? In my opinion, that's the wrong question to ask. Change the question instead to, "can I find something interesting to say about my life? Can I paint an interesting picture of who I am and where I want to go."

Then craft that into a properly formed essay, and make sure you speak with clarity, insight into your own experience, truth, emotion, and confidence.

All these together become the first step to getting you into the school of your dreams! More articles and tips to come!

For more specialized information, please take a look at my website and feel free to contact me directly:

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