The ultimate guide to elite college admissions

Recorded Sunday, May 2 at 09:00 PM

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About this livestream


The admission process at highly ranked colleges is getting more competitive every year — and the top 20 colleges now have an average acceptance rate below 12%.

So today, Elias will walk through everything you need to do in high school to gain admission to top colleges, including: the best testing strategies, developing an extracurricular profile, and the best alternatives in a world of social distancing. He'll then walk through the applications process at top colleges, including the strategy around your early application, as well as maximizing your essays and alumni interviews.

We'll also open up the floor for a Q&A to answer any and all questions you may have about elite college admissions.

Your host

Undergrad College: Harvard University '17

Major: Music

Graduate College: University of Michigan, M.M.

Work Experience: Now in my fourth year at CollegeVine, I have helped dozens of students gain acceptance to their top-choice schools and have also advised and mentored thousands more through my livestreams. Apart from my work at CV, I am also a professional conductor and a multi-instrumentalist. I currently serve as the music director of the Apollo Ensemble of Boston, and I have led symphonic concerts and operatic productions throughout the United States.

My Admissions Story: Initially interested in pursuing a career as a performing cellist, I applied almost exclusively to music schools with dual and double degree options and ultimately enrolled in the Tufts University/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program. Unhappy with the combined program and worried I'd never feel like I was fully a student at either school, I logged back into in October of my freshman year. I can't say I went about the transfer process in the smartest way (I only applied to two schools!), but Harvard miraculously accepted me (or 'excepted me' as I wrote in a celebratory Facebook post that day - no one ever let me live that one down), and the rest was history.

Audience questions

These are questions from the audience that we had time to answer during the live session. If you have any other questions, you can request an answer from Elias and other CollegeVine experts in an upcoming livestream or on the Q&A Forum anytime.
57:05@PamDemic:Can you only do ED to one school?
58:28@angieshere:Can you explain what REA is?
59:43@shukran.a:Hello, what happens if you retake the SAT? Does it show on your transcript, lower your chance of acceptance, etc.?
61:23@angieshere:What if you are test optional? Would that decrease your score?
61:41@angieshere:Decrease my chances, sorry that was a typo!
64:43@Abhinav15:Is the gpa in academic cutoff lower because of Covid
65:34@PamDemic: Can you give niche extra curriuclms examples?
66:56@angieshere:Is the application cycle going to be more competitive in the fall due to relaxed policies?
67:21@anonymous9:what are some psychology spike ideas ?
68:17@PamDemic:Also are tier b ,tier 1 activity?And are tier c and d , tier 2? How many tier 1, tier 2 and lastly tier 3 for admission like harvard?
68:56@ccarbone2:What are finance spike ideas? Cannot get an internship because everyone working from home
69:21@PamDemic:Does demographic like race become an factor for international students? For example a black student from england vs a white student from england?
70:29@angieshere:Does an internship in an area of interest count as impressive?
70:32@Matt02:Will the meeting be by zoom for the students abroad or do we need to go to the college?
71:19@Incognito:What might be a tier 1 spike for CS?
71:37@PamDemic:Also does graduating later negatively affect the admissions negativliy? Like if you will graduate late because of mental health issues?
72:21@R9:Would starting a band your freshman year and continuing to elevate it throughout the years be a strong idea for a theme?
73:08@PamDemic:Can having a good extra curriclums, grades, letter of recommendations outway a bad essay? And vice versa, can a powerful essay outway medicore grades, grades, extra curriculmsa and letter of recomendatton and sats
74:55@PamDemic:What makes and breaks an application?
75:33@Marco123:If the advisor who wrote me the recommendation letter came from that top-tier college, would that help the application?
76:13@Jan.:Do passion projects make a different in you application?
76:42@Parent24:Social distancing is limiting lots of extra curricular activities (eg. Band, orchestra, soccer games, etc)... any advice on how to keep it relevant?
77:50@PamDemic:Tips to get a good rec from a teacher? I am a sophmore and im not so close to my teachers but i have been praised for been one of the most oustanding students ever
78:55@niti_daga:Can you get a recommendation letter from internship manager?
79:19@PamDemic:Is having a spike in only one major like finance enough or do you need like 2 diffrent spikes that build a theme?
80:15@Incognito:Is it okay if you don't know your major yet?
81:35@PamDemic:Which one gives you a bigger booth , An ED or RED. I am intrested in harvard and Yale but cant decide to ED
82:16@Incognito:Because If I want to learn either from science or computer science and Idk yet then should I go undeclared?
83:08@angieshere: If you did a program associated with the school you’re applying to, would that increase your chances? Does it count as demonstrated interest?
84:34@PamDemic:Are own initiatives better than school extra curriculms? Like having more uniqe EC . My school doesnt have any Extra Curriculms
85:43@angieshere:5 PM EST?
86:02@Incognito:Have a great day!
86:29@miaa:how important is foreign language. I have completed Spanish 1 in 8thgrade, Spanish 2 in 9th grade and Spanish 3 over the summer between 9-10th grade. Is this enough. I have taken the most rigorous classes. Mostly all AP or AICE classes. Will a very select school hold my FL against me? Thanks Elias.
88:21@Matt02:Can we watch this zoom offline?
89:20@J8II:Thank you very much!


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