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Articles / Applying to College / SATs and ECs for Ivies

Feb. 18, 2002

SATs and ECs for Ivies

Question: What kind of SAT scores would I need to get into an Ivy League

school, and what if my main extracurricular is being a cheerleader? I have a 4.3 GPA, volunteer, and play tennis, but I only got what's equivalent to an 1150 on the PSAT. Help!!!!!



Most Ivy applicants have SAT I scores in the mid-to-high 1400s and above. Their SAT IIs are usually in the high 600s to mid-700s. It's very competitive. However, that's not to say that someone whose application and profile were highly compelling couldn't get in with lower scores. It's not cut and dried with test scores. There are many overall factors to consider.

Your cheerleading alone wouldn't carry much weight unless you were on a team

that had success in national competitions. Volunteer work is good, but it has to be of some substance and not just an hour or two per week. The ECs of Ivy admits are sometimes almost hard to believe in their scope and intensity. The key is to have a few activities in which you are deeply involved and for which you can show genuine personal passion.

Your GPA is excellent, but, again, grades alone are not enough. The key to success in elite admissions is to have not only the qualifications but also the right marketing approach for your profile. That's where knowing how colleges look at applicants comes in handy.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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