3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Indian student just completed 12th grade. Need advice from beginners level on what i could do to get in ivy colleges?

I'm from India. I recently completed my 12th grade. i didn't scored well in my exams (2.7GPA or 81%) so i'll be writting improvement exams for the same.

I was from medical stream and was preparing for entrance exam so wasn't able to do any extra curricular in past 2 years.

Is there any advice i could get?

Please if possible ans according to education system in India.

(eg: like we don't have any AP classes ..etc)

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

Thanks for your question. This is a very common question among International Students.

Unfortunately, you have a low chance to be considered for an Ivy League college. Besides your low grades, and your lack of ECs, I can also deduce that you probably do not have a high ACT or SAT test score (or perhaps didn't have the opportunity to take either of these tests).

One of the biggest misconceptions that most American and International students have when they start the college application process is to think they are Ivy material or that if they just tweak their narrative a little bit, they are going to get in. This is a huge problem because there are so few available spots available. Each year there are about 6 million unique common application users for about 900 schools (that is only about 20% of the 4300 4 year degree colleges in the US). If you add up how many seats are available at 8 Ivys, they only add up to 15,000. So that's only 0.25%. It's much lower than the average admit rate because the pool of HS students applying to Ivys is self-selecting meaning most HS have a reasonable idea of whether they are Ivy material or not before they apply. Therefore, of the 400000+ plus applicants who apply, most of them are excellent students, perhaps 25% of them don't know what they're doing and just "taking their shot" and wasting $85 like an expensive lottery ticket because according to some calculator on the internet, they still have a 3% chance to get in. (If you are doing the math in your head, you will know that 15,000 is not 5.26% of 400,000 but less. The accepted pool is a little over 20,000 but since many of the same applicants have received 2 or more offers from Ivys, they can not all attend. So the 15000 seat figure is the matriculated number because the yield rate (matriculated/accepted) is around 73% overall.

I'm not trying to discourage you from applying to US colleges, but Ivy leagues are not for everyone. Honestly, if your goal is to get an excellent education in the US, there are literally hundreds of colleges that will equally prepare you academically. While the admit rates of Ivys are going to down in general, that is not necessarily true in the rest of America. I'm attaching this Pew Research article for you to read that clearly shows that most US colleges admit more than 50% of those that apply.


Therefore I think you should re-focus your college goals on trying to find the best college that is the best fit for you as a student, a place where you can mature as an adult and challenge yourself and thrive. There is no reason to wish for attending an elite college like Harvard or MIT if you can't keep up. That's like getting an automatic qualifying spot in the Olympics in the 10,000 M Track and Field final. You can stand on the starting line and run for your life when the starting gun goes off, but you'll only be able to maybe keep up 1 lap out of a 25 lap race and drop out.

Some of the admits at Ivy's are just naturally gifted intellectually. But most of them have been working incredibly hard since kindergarten. If you look at a sampling of admits, they don't just have straight As for the last year of high school, they have 13 years of report cards with straight As. And their parents have incorporated team sports, club sports, personal trainers, personal tutors, online courses, summer college programs, internships, music lessons, voice coaches. etc etc for 13 years as well. While all the Ivys reserve a portion of admits to BIPOC, Low income, marginalized yet talented applicants, the majority are paying most of the tuition, room, and board. Mixed into the available 15000, are recruited athletes, legacies (sons/daughters of alumni), development candidates (just super-rich people), employee kids (sons/daughters of professors), VIPs like movie stars, dean's list (special favors). After all, they are private institutions like private dining or golf clubs, they can pick who they want. So maybe there are really only 10,000-11,000 seats after you do all the accounting of who gets in, and who doesn't.

I wrote this very long post for the benefit of other students as well. Everyone should be focusing on trying to get the best education possible that is the best fit for them. This may not be the answer that you wish to hear, so I apologize for that. I could tell you to take your high school over but that's poor advice because why put yourself through that just to get into a few schools. Like I said before, if your goal is to get educated, you can do that literally anywhere. And while graduating from an Ivy is impressive, it's not impressive if you are not a kind human being.

Good luck.

3 years ago

Hi there @Ana10,

Elite colleges in the U.S. follow a protocol called the Academic Index in order to determine who will move forward in the beginning stages of the admissions process. You can learn more about the Academic Index here, but I'll also provide a brief description as it applies to your situation.

The Academic Index is a threshold takes into account your grades and test scores in a standardized manner that compares you to applicants from your country or region.

If your school doesn't have AP classes and this is influencing your GPA, you might be in the clear if your GPA is at the top when your metrics are recalculated. If this is not the case, I would recommend boosting other academic stats like your test scores by retaking them (as you referenced improvement exams).

You'll also need standout extracurriculars and essays to make up for a below-threshold GPA. While you can consider applying to a couple of Ivies if you really want to attend, if you don't have the stats to clear the AI, you'll want to apply to more match and safety schools, which have lower admissions requirements.

I hope this helps clarify your admissions strategy - best of luck!

3 years ago

Hi! To start off, I'm not 100% sure what you mean by "writing improvement exams," does that mean doing extra credit to bring your grades up? Because I would say, if possible, this is going to be your best bet of getting into an ivy! Ivy schools are SUPER competitive and put a large emphasis on grades. To be completely honest, most ivy students have at least a 3.7 GPA unweighted, or around a 3.9 or higher weighted. So I would first and foremost work on improving your grades if you can. I know you mentioned you don't have APs, but if you have something similar in India that is able to add more weight to your grade than a normal class (and you think you could still get a good grade in the class), I would recommend doing this as well!

Second, I would focus on extracurriculars (ECs) and work experience. Ivys LOVE to see volunteer experience— they don't necessarily care what it is. It could be tutoring, helping out in a hospital or animal shelter, being a sports coach, etc. They really just like to see that you stick with one or more volunteer activities for quite some time and that you are making a difference! Along with this, being involved within your school is another great thing. Ivys love to see sports and/or club involvement. Even better, if you have the time and are interested in a club your school doesn't offer, colleges are very interested in seeing students start their own clubs. You would have to go through administrative approval, but it would likely be worth it! Lastly, having good work experience and showing that you have stuck with a job for a decent amount of time is another great thing that colleges want to see. They love to see commitment and responsibility this way.

Lastly, the two other things that colleges focus on during admissions are letters of recommendation (LORs) and strong essay writing and topics. Having good LORs from a teacher(s) that know you well on a personal level, but also on an academic level is super important! Be sure to request these at least a few weeks in advance to give your teacher(s) a fair amount of time to write them. For your essays, focus on developing a strong essay topic with a good flow and unique voice is super important! I recommend using College Vine's "peer essay editing" feature in order to help you with this once you develop a first rough draft.

I hope that all of this is helpful to you! I wish you the best of luck with your ivy admittance :)

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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