How to build a strong profile for Ivy League admissions

Top universities select students based on their holistic and well-rounded profile. High grades alone cannot guarantee admission.

We are at the time of the year when students are anxiously awaiting their admission decisions from top international universities. After toiling hard for years, it is finally the time to reap the fruits; however, competition is fierce and only 6 to 7% of students make it to the Ivy Leagues and other top universities. Top universities select students based on their holistic and well-rounded profile. High grades alone cannot guarantee admission. You need to differentiate yourself through research papers, extracurricular activities, business plans, MUNs, and internships. Provided below are some activities that students should focus on to develop a well-rounded profile.

#1. Research Papers

Writing a research paper is an extensive process starting with determining the research topic, framing the right question, reviewing the literature, data collection and analysis, drafting the abstract, and finally publishing the findings. A student who has experienced this entire research life cycle, under the guidance of eminent professors, will stand out in front of the admission officers as they are able to validate the student’s analytical skills, inquisitiveness, and dedication for a particular field. Similar was the case with Mehul Jangir from Jaipur. Apart from his outstanding academic performance, Mehul worked with Scholarly on a research paper in Astronomy, which demonstrated his college readiness and ultimately helped him land a seat at his dream university – California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

#2. Extracurricular Activities

While academics are crucial, in-depth engagement in extracurricular activities and community service is equally important. Extracurricular activities such as cultural events, sports competitions, house duties, debates, and volunteering initiatives refine your interpersonal skills while simultaneously preparing you, mentally as well as physically, for higher education abroad. Please note that participating in 10 different activities for short bursts will not be as effective as performing three to four activities over a prolonged period. Tanishka Khanduja, a Freshman at the University of Southern California (USC), ardently pursued her interest in Creative Writing since middle school by participating in essay writing contests, publishing blogs, and editing articles for the school magazine. Tanishka’s flair for writing and creative imagination not only earned her internship as an Editor but also gained her special recognition for her exemplary admission essays.

#3. Internships

Universities are looking for future leaders who can think, innovate, manage, and lead. Internships and projects done beyond the four walls of the classroom are the best way to prove your preparedness for college. Kuber Khanna, who received admits from leading schools including the University of Toronto, couldn’t agree more as he zealously undertook multiple internships to accessorize his technical knowledge and gain real-world experience.

#4. Reading beyond textbooks

Reading novels and newspaper editorials directly aids you in your admission interviews, application essays, aptitude tests, and English proficiency exams. Prestigious institutions like Harvard and Columbia are interested in knowing the books that you have enjoyed reading over the past twelve months. Adding names of the books you have not read or making up a story would be a grave mistake as you might fall into your own trap during the admission interview. In our opinion, students should take advantage of book clubs, form reading groups, and commit themselves to reading at least one book per month.

#5. Personal Website

Since there is only so much you can talk about in your essays and applications, we highly recommend and encourage students to design an informative website and tell a compelling story through videos, images, and blogs. A personal website provides you with the opportunity to tell your story with practically no limitations. In a nutshell, start early, chalk out a detailed roadmap, and follow it to the core. Be mindful that success comes to those who venture out of their comfort zone and walk that extra mile to achieve their dreams and goals.

This article has been published on The Economic Times E-paper – https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/education/how-to-build-a-profile-for-ivy-league-admissions/printarticle/89898437.cms

About the Author: 

Vivek Bhandari is the Chief Executive and Co-founder of Scholarly.co. He is an engineer from IIT Delhi and an MBA from IIM Kolkata. Vivek has worked extensively in financial services, real estate and mortgages space in USA, Europe, and India.

Scholarly helps ambitious international students locate the right universities and courses to pursue their education. We provide college credit courses and research papers to students that want to learn more and differentiate themselves. We help students develop and present their best version to their dream university. Our recommendations are based on the student’s field of interest, academic performance, financial resources and career plans. We provide test preparation classes from the best teachers to help improve scores and thus the prospects for admission. We also assist students with their visa and loan applications to reduce the anxiety associated with international education.

For additional questions about international education, choice of majors, university selection or admission strategies please visit the Questions section of our website.

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