Are you academically awesome but pretty much “mainstream?” The real odds of any “unhooked” kid (“unhooked” is admissions parlance for a kid without an exceptional, atypical angle or “hook”) getting into the Ivies are less than 1 in 100.
Take a look, for example, at the composition of Princeton’s class of 2014:
• 37% were minority students
• 17% were recruited athletes
• 13% were legacies
• 11% were international students
These groups comprise 78% of approximately 1300 enrolled students. (And by the way, this does not take into account the preferences shown for children of celebrities, children of faculty, and students from “feeder” prep schools, one of which sent over a dozen kids to this class.)
Seventy-eight percent of 1300 is 1,014. That leaves 286 “unhooked” slots.
Some 26,000 kids applied to this class, so let’s call 286 roughly 1 percent. Of this one percent, half of these will be male, half female.
Now think about this: There are some 30,000 high schools in America (and some 4,000 in New Jersey alone). Every one of those schools is bound to have at least a handful of top academic achievers and generally all-around awesome applicants. (Yes, with not only great SAT scores and grades but impressive talents and community service and great teacher recs and whatnot.) Think how many of them are vying with you. If only 5 from each American high school apply to an Ivy, that’s 150,000 kids – and this is not counting the kids who apply from the rest of the world. But the entire freshmen classes of all 8 Ivies combined are comprised of only 14,000 students.
With numbers like these, applicants need to get realistic. Students who are awesome but also “mainstream” and want to apply to the Ivies better do so with a detailed strategy to appear “less mainstream” AND have a detailed Plan B in mind.
You might be just as happy, or even happier, at a top private or public alternative. And you might even consider making that your Plan A.