a month ago
Admissions Advice

How to build a college profile for an Indian student hoping to study in an Ivy?

Hi I'm in class 9 currently and I'd like to know what I could do to make for a strong High school profile. Since I'm studying in India, we don't have as such any options for AP/Honors classes. I study at Narayana Olympiad School an Olympiad preparatory school. In general in my school I do well, we have a separate syllabus which teaches us the MPC subjects at a very high level. Like currently in my syllabus when I'm in 9th we learn during a few specific months senior year material. In general I do have plenty extracurriculars, I volunteer in local community drives etc. Since this year I've been studying online, most things in general have become hard but I have the time to work on a profile. Your suggestions and help would be highly appreciated! Thanks again!

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1 answer

a month ago

First of all, it's good you are thinking about applying to Ivys and want to be prepared. But remember that it's very hard for international students to get into Ivys especially at the undergraduate level. For example, if Dartmouth's acceptance rate is 6.17% overall, it's most likely less than 2% for Int'l students. This factoid was revealed in a book this year written by a former Dartmouth admissions director who worked there for 13 years. And Dartmouth is one of the easier Ivy's to get into.

India is no less than 4 times the size of the US. There are many qualified Indian HS students who apply and do not get into Ivy schools. Last year about 402,000 applications were submitted to all 8 Ivys for a little over 14,000 seats. And in those 14000 are a lot of recruited athletes, legacies, wealthy development candidates, VIPS and sons, and daughters of faculty/staff. Maybe there are only 10000 seats to the rest of the general population.

Although many Indian applicants do not have APs or IBs courses on their transcript there are many private schools that offer them. Therefore, just be aware that the competition amongst Indians is fierce. If you can't attend a school that offers them, take the classes online at eDx.org and self-study and take the AP test at a test center in India. That will greatly improve your course rigor by having say 6-12 AP courses by the time you graduate high school. American colleges do not really care about Indian standardized tests or curriculum targeted to Indians applying to Indian colleges. The best advice I can give you is to take 4 years of English, 4 years of Maths, 4 years of Sciences (including to advanced labs), 4 years of a foreign language (not your local language, something like French, Italian, Russian, Chinese) and 3 years of History including US History and European History. Also, you need to score very well on an English proficiency exam like IELTS or TOEFL. It always helps to have a high ACT or SAT test score as well in the 99% percentile ranges like a 34-36 ACT score or a 1500-1600 SAT score. If you can play a team sport, that will serve you well at an Ivy because most Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese applicants do not play a sport. All Ivys heavily recruit Varsity Athletes so if you are a really good athlete, that will help your application. Indian colleges admissions are more merit-based. American colleges like Ivys are all private 200-375-year-old institutions with their own rules, goals, and ideals. It's not pure merit. There are lots of factors and some of them use a scorecard of 200 plus criteria to determine who gets in and who doesn't. 60% of Ivy rejects have perfect 4.0 GPAS and 1600 SATs and 36 ACTs.

There are literally hundreds of excellent colleges in the US that are not Ivys if your main goal is to get a fine education. Keep an open mind and always apply to a variety of schools. It's most important to find a school that fits you rather than trying to fit the school because you will be disappointed if you can't keep up.




There is no formula to get into an Ivy, just a lot of recommendations to improve your chances. If it was a meritocratic process, it would be straightforward but it is not.


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