How to Get Into an Ivy League College Without a Perfect GPA

September 24, 2021 at 9:30 PM
Image of maple leaves on the Princeton campus, inspirational for students who wonder how to get into Ivy League colleges.

College applications are high school students’ best pitch for why they are a better candidate than the thousands of other applicants. It’s natural to focus on GPA and test scores because they’re clear, precise, and quantitative.

However, they are not the only requirement to get into Ivy League colleges the way many students and parents fear. That isn’t to say that getting into one of the eight Ivy League schools isn’t challenging. Their average acceptance rates range from just 4.5 percent at Harvard to 10.6 percent at Columbia. Use these tips if your high school student is wondering how to get into Ivy League colleges.

Understand what the college is looking for in applicants

When a school accepts less than the top ten (or even less than the top five) percent of applicants, it’s clear they’re looking for excellence. But the Ivy League schools have a standard of excellence–in academics and overall performance––few high school students have encountered before.

Applicants who combine excellence in one area plus superior performance in the others stand the best chance of getting into one of the Ivy League schools.

Without a perfect GPA, as long as a student shows challenging course loads with consistent good grades, their application can shine in other ways.

Show strengths in the other areas of your application

The application tells the story of the student––their academic and extra-curricular strengths, role in the community, and contributions to their school or chosen field of study. An admissions counselor wants to see what that applicant will bring to the student body at their institution.

The way to communicate passion on an application is by having long-standing participation in activities, starting as a freshman or sophomore, with deepening involvement as a junior and senior.

Students who use their application to show the differences they’ve made–at school, in their community, as members of clubs––will catch the admissions counselor’s attention. With so much competition to get into Ivy League colleges, students must stand out from their peers.

At Educational Attainment Services, we work one-on-one with students to tell their entire story, beyond academic achievements to their passion, contributions, and impact. By emphasizing the essay portion of the application, students portray their values and achievements in the areas where they excel beyond their peers.

Work with a college counselor with experience in Ivy League applicants

While it’s common to group the Ivy League schools together in terms of exclusivity and excellence, each school is still unique regarding what they’re looking for in an applicant. With the competitive acceptance rates for these schools, it’s crucial to work with a college counselor who understands what the admissions office is looking for in an application. They can help you perfect the essay and interview for every application.

The Educational Attainment Services team has worked on both sides of the admissions process and understands what it takes to get into an Ivy League without a perfect GPA. Their experience is a crucial advantage for students applying to competitive schools.

Educational Attainment Services helps Los Angeles students get into Ivy League schools.

The college counselors at Educational Attainment Services take time to get to know your student as a whole person–not test scores and statistics. Then, we work with students to help them showcase their full potential on their application, from the essay to the interview. We never limit a student’s aspirations, devoting the total weight of our experience and insight into helping them achieve their college goals.

From 2018 through 2020, over a dozen EAS students received Ivy League acceptances. Schedule a free introductory session today if your college-bound student wants to get into Ivy League colleges.