So, you don’t need to Graduate from the Ivy League, but it helps …
Ah, those mythical GPA requirements. Of course, your GPA is a pillar of your application, but is it critical? Is your application a house of cards without it? Not necessarily. Why is it that some with 4.0 GPA’s are rejected, while others with sub-3 GPA’s are accepted? Because the value of the courses you took is of equal value to your result. Because your application needs to demonstrate extra-curricular pedigree.
Your record at school needs to display academic rigor – don’t opt for the easiest courses. You need to showcase a ‘spike’. 1 that tells the admissions team, be they Harvard or Yale, you’re destined for greatness. That brings us on to Extra-Curriculars.
Those Darn Extra-Curriculars
Meet Zak. Zak has a 2.7 GPA and equally unremarkable SAT results. While Zak was never the best student academically, he excelled in sports, holding the post as captain as his Baseball, Basketball and Football teams, winning awards for his sporting prowess. It’s these traits that secured his place at Harvard. Meanwhile thousands of students are rejected every year with flawless academics.
The story of sub-3 GPA turned Harvard graduate is exceptional, but there’s a moral here. If two students are equal in academic measure, schools like employers, will opt for the candidate who has held leadership roles or displayed extra-curricular distinction. Without it, your application will be forgotten. It’s called ‘Holistic Admissions’.
Sadly you will need to factor finance into attending your dream university. Fortunately, however, the world’s most sought after schools often possess the grandest financial aid reserves. Consider this, Harvard has a financial aid endowment of $172,000,000, reserved for those whose parents are earning under $60,000 per annum. The net result means the cost of attendance bests or matches 90% of other universities. Before preparing your FAFSA application, you’ll need to establish where you stand.
What About Reach Schools?
Identifying reach schools and match schools is smart forward planning. Perhaps your heart is set on attending Stanford. You may dream of designing the next killer App before negotiating your way to a Silicon Valley conglomerate. It happens, it happens all the time. So too, do students who fail to reach the school of their dreams without Plan B. Identify other institutes with a prestigious record of graduating the finest minds in your field.
When creating a shortlist of schools, you’ll need to look at the Post-Graduate success student’s are likely to experience. Let’s take MIT. While the US flounders in recession and students struggle to find employment on graduation – just 20% of students do - MIT bucks the trend. Studies demonstrate MIT students fare best with on-campus hiring still prevalent.
The notion that your post-graduate success is solely dependent on your school, however, is equally spurious. History is written by those who break the rules and define their own path. Be they a Harvard reject Warren Buffet or the legendary Steve Jobs.
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”