6 months ago
Admissions Advice

Which Ivy Cares Most About Extracurriculars?

Hi! Can anyone rank which Ivies care most/least about extracurriculars? What about academics and essays? Thanks! :)


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
6 months ago

I have done this analysis by comparing all the Ivys common data sets that are available (Columbia does not have a CDS published however Barnard College does so I'll use that as proxy).

So there are 4 values colleges can report on the CDS with regards to how much they factor in certain types of information with regards to their college admissions process:

Very Important




Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale indicate ECs are very important.

Brown, Barnard (Columbia), and UPenn indicate ECs are important.

Harvard indicates ECs are considered

No Ivy indicates they are not considered.

The main takeaway is all Ivys consider them in the college admissions process. How important or not is the $1 million dollar question.

For Essays, all Ivys except for Harvard indicated Essays are Very Important. Harvard only states they are considered.

For Academic Rigor, Class Rank and Standardized Tests, and GPA, all Ivys indicate they are very important. (UPenn/Cornell state class rank is just Important to clarify). And Harvard alone states that Rigor, GPA, Std Test are considered, and that Class Rank is NOT considered.

So don't read into this too much because just because Harvard only just considers everything but not class rank, doesn't mean that it is any easier to get admitted. In fact, there are over 200+ attributes Harvard considers and scores on its scorecard for each applicant.

My takeaway is that you have to consider the current acceptance rates as gospel for how complicated their admissions process is. Whether or not you have the best ECs or not is not alone a singular factor that helps a certain applicant get admitted, everything is weighted differently at each school and each committee is different goals.

Harvard 57786 1968 3.43%

Columbia 60551 2218 3.66%

Princeton 37601 1498 3.98%

Yale 46905 2169 4.62%

Brown 46568 2537 5.45%

Upenn 56333 3202 5.68%

Dartmouth 28357 1749 6.17%

Cornell 68500 5836 8.52%

rounded based on Cornell PR

6 months ago

I'd love to give you a better answer than this, but I'm actually not sure that doing this kind of ranking is possible. First of all, this kind of thing might depend on which specific admissions officers read your application. It also might depend on your intended major (this is especially true for a school like Cornell that has many different internal colleges). Some schools do have a culture of caring a lot about one specific application element (UChicago with essays, for example; or Harvard for extracurriculars, at least in my own personal, anecdotal experience), but at most elite schools it's more opaque than this.

We can definitely figure out what application elements are more important at different categories of schools. For example, extracurriculars and essays are extremely important at Ivies, while academics are typically the most important thing at less selective schools. Part of the reason for this, though, is that you need excellent academics to even be considered at Ivies in the first place.


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