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February 17, 2019

25 Qualities the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT and other premier colleges look for

The regular decision acceptance rate at Stanford University is a “jaw dropping” 3.3%, while the overall acceptance rate is 4.3%. Harvard admissions is marginally easier. In other words, for even students supremely talented and academically gifted, the odds are unlikely to gain admission to America’s most elite universities. However, if you know what the Ivies look for, and if you prepare and execute, you have a chance.


1 Academic Excellence Intelligence demonstrated through GPA, SAT/ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP Exams, National Merit Finalist, Science Olympiad finalists, Valedictorian or Salutatorian
2 Intellectual Curiosity Love of Learning for the sake of learning, with a strong interest in academic research & the creation of knowledge to help solve one of the world’s pressing problems (published research)
3 Success Achievement Through Challenging & Rigorous Coursework, and extracurriculars
4 Passion Sustained Interest over several years, toward an inspiring long-term vision
5 Genuine Presentation of a central theme, Authenticity, with a resounding life’s purpose, built with Confidence.
6 Outstanding Ethics Moral Character, substantiated by deeds and letters of recommendation
7 Logical Thinker Quantitative Problem-Solving Skills accompanied with Rational Thought
8 Good Judgement Professional, Reliable and Selfless, validated in the letters of recommendation
9 Compelling Narrative
  1. Personal story that shows uncommon and often amazing talent with strong upside potential, clarifying what matters most to the student, not just what they did, but why they did what they did, & how they felt, all while clearly articulating their short-term and long-term goals
10 Student profile is consistent with the mission of the institution; Demonstrated Interest in the institution Optimal Fit between student and the institution
11 Social Intelligence Ability to work and play well with individuals and in teams, possesses an engaging personality that makes the people around them comfortable and productive
12 Sets SMART Goals


Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Ambitious, Relevant and Time-Limited Career Goals;

SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

13 Demonstrated calculated Risks; and taking advantage of and creating opportunities; high likelihood of optimizing use of the expansive resources on and off campus Takes advantage of and creates opportunities; high likelihood of optimizing use of the resources on and off campus
14 Exceptional Personal Initiative Enterprising resourcefulness, demonstrate high-impact leadership, creativity, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and community service
15 International Leadership Potential Appreciates, navigates and can lead through cultural diversity
16 Global World View Sees the world through a larger lens, not one limited to a local, regional, state or country perspective
17 Foreign Language Proficiency Advanced proficiency in more than one language
18 Demonstrated Growth and Progression Evolution over many years toward Mastery in Skills and inincreasing Responsibilities
19 Meaningful, Consistent & Compassionate Service to the Common Good Un-selfish duty to Family, Community &/or Humanity
20 Special Talents & Experiences that differentiate you from the crowd. Takes full advantage of opportunities presented to them – Overcomes Obstacles and Hardships; Rises to the occasion in stressful situations with bravery, courage and resolve
21 Exceptional communication skills Written and Verbal
22 Calm Under Pressure: Ability to rationally manage problems and crises with a steady demeanor. Handles Stress Well; Focuses on things he/she can control; and is indifferent to things outside of his/her complete control
23 Students that will contribute greatly to and benefit immensely from the entering class, the institution and the profession. Students that are dedicated, committed and reliable. In essence, the student articulates clearly why they are a great fit for the institution
24 Possess an entrepreneurial spirit The student doesn’t necessarily build companies, but creates something that didn’t exist before
25 In summary, a most Compelling applicant So intriguing that the admissions committee member plans to go out of their way to have the honor to meet the student while on campus