Comments: 518 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

startin-over163 karma

how does it feel to be not Yale?

IvyAdmissions52 karma


MasterBlockMan156 karma


IvyAdmissions164 karma

Probably not, since your sentence is grammatically incorrect...

danwroy49 karma

can i be at harvard

IvyAdmissions49 karma


ScrotumStompingFun47 karma

Does it help if I make you laugh as long as I am grammatically correct?

IvyAdmissions37 karma


ScrotumStompingFun22 karma

Do I HAVE to be grammatically correct?..

IvyAdmissions26 karma

If you want to be taken seriously...

ReamusLQ44 karma

Why does being part of a "legacy" help you get admitted? Just because their parents went there, why should that help the child get in?

If a legacy applicant and a non-legacy applicant had pretty much the same qualifications (or the non-legacy just a little bit of an edge), would the legacy applicant be chosen?

IvyAdmissions52 karma

If it were equal, yes. That is simply how the Ivy League schools operate. It is a, perhaps, unfair form of elitism...but, it is real.

Drezemma11 karma

Is anyone even doing anything about this? To me, it goes against everything social and economic mobility has stood for.

IvyAdmissions90 karma

Private schools are private schools. They are not a democracy.

madeinamurica10 karma

How does having grand parents whom were both professors at Harvard help with admissions?

IvyAdmissions10 karma

Harvard, and some of the other school place a strong value on legacy. It helps.

34knockonthedoor30 karma

Do you prefere a ballsy kid and application or the picture perfect kid who started a non-profit and had 4.0 ect? What is that "it" factor that you look for?

IvyAdmissions46 karma

Original thinker. Someone who has done something different than the kid next door...whether in background, or interests. I want to find someone interesting.

zap_zap27 karma

Do you believe Harvard is better than Oxford or Cambridge?

IvyAdmissions28 karma

Harvard is different than the English schools. It also depends on your academic field of interest.

curls2326 karma

What was the most unusual entrance essay you've ever read about?

IvyAdmissions57 karma

I had a student who developed an advance method of wound healing, that was then adopted by the U.S. Army, and is currently used in combat as an "on site" medical treatment that has since helped soldiers all over the world.

pie_now32 karma

Did you check to see if s/he was lying?

IvyAdmissions49 karma

I actually did decide to check her credentials, and she had actually won the Intel award for a completely different project, so I decided she was probably telling the truth.

zoef25 karma

If my parents are filthy rich, can I get into Harvard?

IvyAdmissions47 karma

If your parents went to Harvard, you might have an easier time because of the legacy. Wealth alone...you may be able to hire upper level admissions consultants at a very young age to "groom" you for the school.

So, just having money, no. Having financial resources to get you where you want to go...it helps.

Wannahelpmydad20 karma


IvyAdmissions14 karma

He would make a strong applicant, if he has a strong and focused plan regarding what he wants to pursue in the future, in terms of business, and how he believes an MBA will help him pursue his goals.

It's all about the narrative and story he can create and present in his essay, but age alone shouldn't deter him at all, as I have had many clients in their 40's get into the top Ivy programs.

friENTlyfrenchguy16 karma

This may be a bit weird to ask but I've been kicked out of my current high school for very dumb things, but have since changed my life around. My questions is how important is the mistakes I have made if I've changed since.

IvyAdmissions20 karma

If you can demonstrate a solid, good year at any school, you can apply to transfer, and turn everything around. You just need to demonstrate that you are serious and can stay serious for 1-2 years, at perhaps a lower level school. You can absolutely turn everything around though, if you stay focused and determined to do well.

yedo16 karma

What are the top 5 things a middle schooler needs to focus to get into Harvard?

IvyAdmissions23 karma

  1. Take the most advanced classes your school offers.
  2. Find out what you're interested in academically, and try to pursue things outside of class that will take that interest to a high level.
  3. Study an additional language
  4. Start a business, a volunteer group, anything that shows...even on a very, very small level...leadership.
  5. Do things that are interesting, and that sets you apart from the rest!

wheyproteinisolate15 karma

why did you reject me?

IvyAdmissions-1 karma

Because you didn't give me what I was looking for.

Discoberry115 karma

What percentage of Harvard students receive Pell Grants?

IvyAdmissions7 karma

Don't know. It's really not looked at when evaluating an application.

JangoCrutch14 karma

Have you met Mark Zuckerberg?

IvyAdmissions9 karma


regurgih8er13 karma

  1. So, what does it take to get in?
  2. Any candidates that really stood out? Why?

IvyAdmissions14 karma

  1. Demonstrating confidence in your essays and interviews. Having the proper background in terms of AP courses, or equal college-level work. Having very focused academic interests and goals for your potential future. Backing this up with work or interests outside the classroom. Demonstrating that you are an individual thinker.

  2. I had a client just get into Princeton, early decision. He had a very unique background, from Russia, very well-rounded cultured and educated interests (art, philosophy, music), spoke more than one language, and had outside awards and summer work experience that fit in with his future path and goals. He was interesting, and had done so much already, though only 18.

GoldFisherman12 karma

What are your opinions on Harvard grade inflation?

IvyAdmissions16 karma

I've read some articles. I'm not so sure I believe it. The students are very driven there, and most work very hard to get their A or (the horror) B.

Saponification11 karma

Hello! I'm curious how Harvard admission works regarding a spouse. When I did my undergrad at BYU, I tutored a very beautiful girl who was taking classes at a local community college. She married the son of a Marriott (of the hotel chain Marriott) that was enrolled in the Harvard MBA program. Soon after, she enrolled and graduated from Harvard. I'm not sure how to put this, and I do not want to be rude, but the girl was not very bright. Is entrance easier for the spouse of a concurrently enrolled student? Or do family members of fortune 500 companies just have a easier go of it?

IvyAdmissions11 karma

Legacy + resources (money) + connections simply perhaps means they can hire the right people to help her say the right things to, perhaps, push her application through. Is this ethical? No. Does it happen? I'm sure. Of course, I don't know about your specific example.

AhoyDaniel10 karma

Do people from third world countries get accepted? Taking in count the education system in some countries aren't that advanced.

IvyAdmissions15 karma

Yes, they do. The admissions committee wants to diversify their class. You still need to show that you can THINK at a very high level, even if you didn't have the opportunities that someone from the suburban U.S. had access to.

SirAlexander10 karma

Does the iB diploma actually receive a higher consideration as much as my high school says it does?

IvyAdmissions12 karma

Schools know the Baccalaureate has a higher standard than most U.S. high schools.

infinity5269 karma

How much of a difference does being an Eagle Scout make on an application, assuming you are otherwise similar to the next guy on the list?

IvyAdmissions7 karma

If you can show how that has influenced your life, values and goals, it would be considered and weighed as any other interesting extracurricular activity. I have known some Eagle Scouts.

DealwithitARAB9 karma

If a 70 year old wanted to apply and had all the pre-requisites would that be a plus?

IvyAdmissions3 karma

It would certainly be interesting.

mikecngan9 karma

I wish I found you prior to hitting the submit button. I just applied to hbs r2 without using any consulting services because I thought you were all outrageously expensive. I'm cautiously optimistic regardless. Anyways, on to my questions:

  1. Is age a major consideration in hbs admissions?

  2. Am I at a huge deficit that I didn't use a hbs alumni as a rec?

If you don't mind, if I get an interview, I will certainly ask you more questions.Thanks.

IvyAdmissions1 karma

  1. They want MBA students who still have room to grow, and can make use of the degree, but I have had clients in their mid-40's who have gotten in, so no.

  2. No. A lot of recs come from various sources.

I do also offer interview consultation for my clients. You can contact me through my website for exact fees.

fancysox9 karma

Let's get to the main question here: how many applicants have tried to seduce you to get into Harvard? And how did that go for them?

IvyAdmissions11 karma

Hahaha...well that gave me a good laugh. I will answer with: no one...though, did have some professors along the way, try to get my attention.

wraithsrock9 karma

How optional are the optional essays?

IvyAdmissions15 karma

Not optional. I tell ALL my clients to take the opportunity to provide the admissions committee with more information.

wyoming28828 karma

What is one of the most important thing you look for in a college application, also how important is the essay?

IvyAdmissions7 karma

The essays are the most important aspect, in my opinion. I look for students who are confidence in how they come across on paper, have interesting and perhaps unusual pursuits and backgrounds, and are able to demonstrate they can excel at a very high level in their field (or show the potential to do so).

krazed_nugget8 karma

Why would I want to go to a school that will keep me in debt for the rest of my life? Realistically, about how much on debt would someone be in after attending one of these schools?

IvyAdmissions10 karma

Debt is something to seriously consider, as well as the career and money-making potential of the field you are aspiring to go into. You could end up $80,000 in debt if you truly came in with no assets.

I know people who have done this and have done extremely well for themselves in life, and the school and connections they made while there are priceless...I know others who are still, 20 years later in debt.

qalfa7 karma

What are some of the questions you ask every MBA applicant and what is the best way to answer them?

IvyAdmissions8 karma

I want to see a resume. I want to see that they have at least SOME work experience (and preferably 3-5+ years) and I want to see (and I ask) that they have very focused goals and a reason for pursuing their MBA now, at this particular time, that makes logical sense.

jnn0455 karma

if an applicant isn't necessarily perfect on paper interviews far and above other applicants how heavily does that weigh on admission?

IvyAdmissions4 karma

Everything is taken into consideration. I, personally, think the essays are the most important.

Anandaismyguy5 karma

What's your biggest pet peeve about applicants?

IvyAdmissions15 karma

I have a problem with international, non-native speakers, who send me essays in really bad English.

-entropy-4 karma

What are the general criteria for getting into Computer Science? Criteria that you list officially and don't.

IvyAdmissions4 karma

AP courses, 4 or 5 on the AP test in the field, and GREAT math scores on the SAT, as well as via your GPA. Outside work in the subject also always helps, too.

-entropy-1 karma

Awesome thanks. Unfortunately they don't offer AP classes in South Africa, would that be a problem?

IvyAdmissions1 karma

No, not at all, as long as you could demonstrate college-level work in your subject, even if that is something you just do and read about independently in your spare time. They want to see that you can converse and think on a college level...before you get to college.

kiasuten1 karma

Assuming I read about things in my free time, but I don't have any actual volunteer work or work experience in that are (such as grant writing, for example), how do I show that I know what I'm talking about?

My little sister is graduating from high school next year, and while she has good grades and I know she's smart, she's less of a social person and this has hindered her interests in extracurriculars.

IvyAdmissions2 karma

Get involved with something, outside of school, that does show your interest. There is always some way to join something, participate in something, even if it's online.

For example, I had a high school student who was interested in studying finance. He decided, with his parent's, to open a day trading account and learn about the stock market via penny stocks. It was something that made him interesting, didn't cost much at all, yet was something most high school students don't do....find something that parallels your sister's interests that she can get involved in.

kiasuten1 karma

I wonder how my sister can pad her resume with tweets and Instagram photos. Maybe something tech-related. Or perhaps I'll convince her to start at a local community college.

Thanks for the response!

IvyAdmissions2 karma

Taking classes at a community college would be great, as would perhaps trying to develop her own website or tech-related business online. Anything that shows extended interest beyond the classroom...I don't know about tweets and photos on the resume? Sounds rather avant-guarde

nhall09014 karma

What are the criteria for evaluating an admissions essay?

IvyAdmissions4 karma

Good writing. Accomplishments that show the student's interest in the field outside of classwork, and a unique and CONFIDENT narrative.

JunkyardSS3 karma

What are the prospects for someone trying to get into Harvard for a Masters in an Engineering field, seeing as most Ivy's are more geared towards social sciences and liberal arts?

IvyAdmissions4 karma

The Ivy's have solid engineering programs if you are interested in attaining a well-rounded education, and know someone in particular you want to work with (a certain professor or lab, for example). If you are interested in extremely focused engineering though, you might be better off at MIT or Cal Tech.

itzPebbs3 karma

What did your high school transcript look like?

IvyAdmissions9 karma

Interesting question. I had straight A's, from a suburban high school, where I took all the AP classes offered. Though my GPA was 4.0, my SAT scores weren't that great, because I would freeze up out of nervousness on standardized tests. I still got in.

itzPebbs3 karma

Damn. Define your version of a 'great' sat score? And thanks for doing the AMA!

IvyAdmissions8 karma

You're welcome. I'm still on the old scale with SAT's, because I don't pay attention to it anymore via my admissions firm (where I really just focus on essays and interviews).

On the old scale, any score over 1350 was considered good, anything over 1450, excellent. Someone who knows how to convert the old to new scores, can perhaps do so, and post.

umarali3 karma


IvyAdmissions5 karma

I am opposed actually to gap years, but if that is what a student has decided to do, I want to see that he/she has truly spent that year wisely, in vey interesting and unusual ways.

kiasuten1 karma

What are your reasons for being opposed to the gap year?

IvyAdmissions6 karma

I think it possibly hints that something is wrong...that there is a reason the student couldn't or didn't want to simply continue pushing forward with very focused ambition and drive.

I work mainly with the top schools in the country, and it just makes me wonder why a student would even feel they "need a break." I am, personally, more interested in students who are extremely competitive and push forward.

That said, if you are truly doing something interesting and it's fascinating, etc., I would change my opinion. I had one student who took off for a gap year, because she was in the Olympics.

kvietkus3 karma


IvyAdmissions2 karma

Someone who has done interesting and different things, or has an unusual background, story, or goals. Ivy League schools are looking for ORIGINAL THINKERS.

ycbt3 karma

Serious question, hopefully I don't get a BS answer. How do you think admissions at Harvard would change if the admissions committee did not have access to the applicant's race, last name, or any other piece of information from which race could be inferred?

IvyAdmissions2 karma

I sincerely did not have race or gender come across as an issue. I paid attention to international versus domestic applicants, and that was about it. Beyond that, for me, it was all about what was on the page (essays, scores, etc).

christian15422 karma

Have you gotten any applications from Finland? If so, why did they get in? There is no culture here of people having a bunch of extracurriculars. It is almost impossible to achieve a perfect gpa too. Letters of recommendation are not exaggeratedly glowing like those they give out in America.

IvyAdmissions2 karma

Interesting. I don't believe that I have worked with anyone from Finland, before, but that may be because I usually just focus my marketing in the U.S.

My opinion is though, that your background would be taken into consideration.

Willow5362 karma

why is there a big feud between Ivy schools? like Yale and Harvard?

IvyAdmissions5 karma

People like to be competitive, and they like history, and that is a very long-standing rival (that is, I believe, all in good fun).

nicklauschalk2 karma

Do study abroad summer programs (such as through the Rotary) look good on college applications?

IvyAdmissions2 karma

Yes. Anything that adds to your life experience and makes your life interesting!

txglasgow2 karma

Can you describe a terrible interview that has happened?

IvyAdmissions3 karma

Just when the poor student is so nervous, they can't even look at me, but look at the floor. I just feel so awful for them, and without demonstrating confidence and an ability to carry an adult conversation, there is just no way I can recommend they get in. It breaks my heart, and I try to make them more at ease and comfortable, but sometimes there is just nothing I can do.

Donkeyshrek2 karma

What happens with the students you believe to have amazing potential and the ability to do something great but don't have the grades to match it? Is admissions solely based on grades?

IvyAdmissions3 karma

No, it's not based on grades alone, but test scores, background, experience, accomplishments, and future goals. Everything is taken into consideration.

radioheadr2 karma

Do you look for similar qualities in both grad and undergrad applications? E.g. Say I apply to the MBA program after a few years of engineering work experience, how important would my undergrad GPA, SAT scores, and undergrad e.c's be relative to my actual work experience and accomplishments? Thank you for your time.

IvyAdmissions6 karma

Work experience and your resume is much more important for the MBA, than any undergraduate experience.

hubble2681 karma

I wrote an essay about Queen the band and had subtle references to song titles throughout the essay. Have you ever heard of anything like that happening before?

IvyAdmissions3 karma

Some students write very creative essays. Some get in doing that, some don't. It has to work. I have seen some VERY bad creative essays, so it is always a risk...but, one that could work in your favor, if pulled off.

CorporalEd1 karma

How hard is it to come from the UK to Harvard?

IvyAdmissions1 karma

There are a lot of British students, actually - especially if we are talking about grad school.

Toyou4yu1 karma

How much does race and genders matter?

IvyAdmissions2 karma

I don't think it is actually taken into consideration, via my own experience.

nicklauschalk1 karma

What activities do you look for the most on an application? Extracurriculars, volunteer work?

IvyAdmissions3 karma

Something unusual and interesting, that shows success at a very high level.

BlinkDaggerOP1 karma

Have you ever had any content in an application that made you laugh your ass off? As in, "Did this guy actually think this would be appealing to an admissions office?"

IvyAdmissions3 karma

Laugh, yes. Feel sorry for a student because of their misguided attempt at an essay, also yes.

The funniest sentence I ever read, was from a kid whose very first sentence in his Common App read, "I often play games where I am a very large Wizard." I had to actually pick up the phone and say, "No, you cannot write about this for your Common App essay." It was pretty hilarious.