If you want to get into an Ivy League school, you'd better be willing to put in some serious effort. Here are some basics to keep in mind.
Step 1: Maintain a high grade point average Maintain a 3.75 grade point average in high school, and in high level courses that challenge you, because Ivy League schools will take that into account.
TIP: Find Ivy League alumni and ask them for tips on how to get into the elite schools.
Step 2: Take the SAT Take the SAT while you're in high school and shoot for a score of 2100. But avoid taking it more than twice, or you'll be losing ground in the eyes of admissions officers.
Step 3: Join clubs Join clubs with purpose and get active, diversifying your activities to gain experiences, improve your social profile, and show your desire. Commit to work on behalf of at least one nonprofit organization.
TIP: Don't give up if you are of low socio-economic status. First-generation college students are sometimes attractive to Ivy League schools.
Step 4: Establish your identity Establish an admirable identity in school through your passion for things like literature, arts, sports, research, and social activism. Strive to be a leader in at least one area to set yourself apart.
Step 5: Write a knockout essay Write a knockout essay on the application, as it will be critical for admissions officers to sense who you are, what kind of character you have, and whether you're their kind of graduate.
Step 6: Choose your references Choose academic and counselor references carefully -- their comments are evaluated seriously. They speak the League's language and their opinions of you count more than your opinions of yourself.
TIP: Don't lose your mind over this. It isn't the end of the world if you don't make it, and there's always graduate school.
Step 7: Practice for interviews Practice for interviews as you would for a job -- be yourself, be succinct and relaxed, know their school, and know why you want to go there.
FACT: In 2009, Yale and Harvard each accepted less than 10 percent of applicants.