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Insider Tips For Getting Into An Ivy League: Advice From A Current Ivy League Student

Written by Evan Farnping

Getting Into An Ivy League School

Getting into an Ivy League school is a dream for many students.

So imagine the delight I felt when I got acceptance letters from the Ivy League schools I applied to, especially as a first-generation student from a low socioeconomic background.

Even after spending my first semester at Brown University, I still could not believe it.

But all that is in the past now, and today, I will be sharing some tips on how you can do it too!

What I Did In High School

Understandably, you may be wondering what I did in high school.

So here is a brief overview:

I took 6 AP classes and 1 DE class, my weighted GPA was about 4.6, I was a national champion and top 5 in the world for an AFJROTC drill team, I worked in a pharmacy, and interned at an engineering lab.

Does Academics Matter?

Genuinely, academic stats are not the most important aspect.

For example, I was not a top 5 student, yet, out of all the top students at my high school, I was one of the only ones that got accepted into an Ivy League school.

The truth is, many top students have high grades and have taken a lot of hard courses. The question is, what separates them from one another?

The answer is what they do outside their academics.

The Significance of Extracurriculars/Experiences

Besides the essay, the things you do outside of your academics are what separates you from the competition. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a top athlete or a leader in a global organization- you just need to show passion for something.

The truth is, Ivy League admission officers usually want to see initiative and genuine passion for something you do.

For example, it is better to be the leader of a local organization who has genuinely helped the community, than to be an “officer” of 7 different clubs that didn’t do much besides getting together to do “stuff.”

Choosing An Essay Topic

The million-dollar question every student wants to know is, “What do I write?”

A good place to start is to write something that shows character growth. For example, I wrote about how having a gun pointed at me taught me how to forgive. Of course, that is quite intense. Fortunately, you can do something more simple. For example, a Yale student I met wrote about the impact of a plushie.

However, you should avoid writing about something common, like winning a competition, getting injured, etc.

The reason is they have been done a lot, and a former Brown University admission officer once said that essays like that tend to “blur together.”

While there are always exceptions to the rule, try to be unique and don’t be afraid to get creative. The point of the essay is for the admission officer to see you as more than just stats on a page.


Officially, the SAT and ACT are accepted at all Ivy League schools and none of them have preferences for either. In short, it is best to take both. However, if you can only do one, do the one you are most comfortable with and is most accessible to you.

Fun fact, I never took the SAT/ACT, as it was not required during the pandemic. However, for reference, I scored a 1540 on a simulated SAT session in 2021.

Closing Notes

Brown University Undergraduate Student
Evan Farnping

Hopefully, you found these quick tips helpful.

If you want more in-depth help, email me at where you can book a session with me to talk about any aspects of the college application process, or just have me take a look at your essay.

I look forward to seeing you!

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