Advice on admissions to Ivy League Universities

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maiacatherine
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Hi all, I'm thinking of applying for Geology at some Ivy Leagues (I think I have the scores for it). I was born in Northern Ireland but I have an American parent so visas won't be an issue. I'm getting up to choosing my A- Levels and there are a few questions I have:

· Do I need to take 3 or 4? I know to apply to places like Trinity Dublin you need 4 and considering Oxbridge don't even require 4 is it necessary for ivys?

· I know I need to take the SAT; is it subject specific or is it a generalized one? I know when my mom took it in '87 it was a combination of math and English.

· Finally, do A- Levels function like AP classes or are they just ignored in favor for GCSEs or the SAT?

Current predicted scores for GCSE are as follows:
English lit/ language A*
geology A*
Spanish A*
Geography A
History A
Biology A
maths B
RE B
Chemistry B
This is more aimed at students who have been from the UK to US system but any help would be greatly appreciated!
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rickyrossman
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I'm not a US student but I think the biggest problem you'll have is the funding. Ivies like Princeton and Columbia charge $45,000 a year for tuition. I've never heard of them offering scholarships to international students.
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maiacatherine
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have considered that and I'm going to competitively apply for every scholarship I can get my hands on.
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rickyrossman
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(Original post by maiacatherine)
have considered that and I'm going to competitively apply for every scholarship I can get my hands on.
if you can get one, great. if you can't, think about other uni's like oxford, cambridge, imperial, work for a few years, then go do a masters at an ivy when you can afford it.
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lordmasterlu
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Ivy leagues don't really have specific prerequisite courses, they just want to see that you challenged yourself with a rigorous academic curriculum in high school. So four A-levels is more impressive than three, but it isn't necessary. Something to keep in mind is that Ivy leagues emphasize well-roundedness far more than schools like Oxford and Cambridge (who don't really care about extra-curriculars, and just want to see you excel in the academic course you're applying to)

There's the SAT reasoning, which tests english and math and has an optional essay (which is required by nearly every Ivy) and then there's the SAT subject tests, which tests subject specific knowledge. The subject tests are not required by all schools; there are there for you to demonstrate proficiency in a certain subjects. You can also choose to take the ACT instead of the SAT. It's the same idea and content, but there are some differences in the structure of the test, so choose the one that fits your skill set.

I think A-levelsare more in-depth than AP courses. Ivy applicants will probably take upwards of ten AP courses throughout their four years of high school, while UK students have GCSEs, then spend two years intensively studying three or four A-levels. I think both GSCEs and A-levels will be considered by the schools, since the US high school system is something like mashup of the two.
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LostAccount
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Ivy Leagues are less concerned about the number of A-levels and progression than Russell Groups (don't think they'll care about your GCSEs at all) but they are definitely many times more touchy about the subjects you do than RGs.

They want you to pick the most rigorous and challenging subjects you could have possibly chosen from, and they'll look at what your options were to determine that. I have a friend who went to Georgia as well as family in New Jersey and any time I ask, they're in agreement that lower grades but harder subjects are better for Ivy schools than higher grades and less reputable courses like in the UK.

So long as it's not Home Economics and Creative Thinking, RG's won't care what you did if you got AAA. The story is vastly different with Ivy schools. Also, my friend in Georgia told me he was requested a copy of his exam script for his EPQ so his application can be reviewed, as they apparently want to analyse your academic style of writing too.
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lordmasterlu
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(Original post by rickyrossman)
I'm not a US student but I think the biggest problem you'll have is the funding. Ivies like Princeton and Columbia charge $45,000 a year for tuition. I've never heard of them offering scholarships to international students.
Ivy league schools have unbelievably amazing financial aid programs. They have so much endowment, that if they want you, they will cover your tuition if you demonstrate the need
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dakyras
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(Original post by rickyrossman)
I'm not a US student but I think the biggest problem you'll have is the funding. Ivies like Princeton and Columbia charge $45,000 a year for tuition. I've never heard of them offering scholarships to international students.
Princeton and Columbia both offer financial aid to international students, as do all of the Ivies.
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maiacatherine
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hi all! Thanks so much for your advice. Found out that most universities treat me the same as US born and raised students as I'm a citizen- this means I could potentially get more aid BUT makes it more competitive.
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M451
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(Original post by rickyrossman)
I'm not a US student but I think the biggest problem you'll have is the funding. Ivies like Princeton and Columbia charge $45,000 a year for tuition. I've never heard of them offering scholarships to international students.
Both Princeton and Columbia meet the full demonstrated need of all international students with grants and work-study and Princeton is also need-blind so doesn't look unfavourably on you in the admissions process because you require financial aid.

Ivys have huge pots of money and are willing to spend generously on financial aid to the best students from around the globe. Usually, you won't have to apply to a specific scholarship, as Ivys only offer need-based financial aid and not merit-based. However, getting into the university in the first place will be more than tough enough. Bear in mind that the offer rate for Oxbridge is about 25% on average but the offer rate for top-tier Ivys is under 10%, usually 5-6% now.

(Original post by maiacatherine)
Hi all, I'm thinking of applying for Geology at some Ivy Leagues (I think I have the scores for it). I was born in Northern Ireland but I have an American parent so visas won't be an issue. I'm getting up to choosing my A- Levels and there are a few questions I have: Do I need to take 3 or 4? I know to apply to places like Trinity Dublin you need 4 and considering Oxbridge don't even require 4 is it necessary for ivys? I know I need to take the SAT; is it subject specific or is it a generalized one? I know when my mom took it in '87 it was a combination of math and English. Finally, do A- Levels function like AP classes or are they just ignored in favor for GCSEs or the SAT? Current predicted scores for GCSE are as follows: English lit/ language A* geology A* Spanish A* Geography A History A Biology A maths B RE B Chemistry B This is more aimed at students who have been from the UK to US system but any help would be greatly appreciated!

Ivy Leagues want to see high grade averages and a rigorous course load. 4 A levels should be better than 3 but don't do 4 if it will lower your average grade from an A/A* to a B/C.

You will need to do either the SAT reasoning or the ACT reasoning, which are both 4-part reasoning tests testing English, Math, Reading, and Science. I would recommend the optional essay portion of the test for whichever you choose to do.

I'd also recommend taking 2 SAT Subject Tests which are, as the name suggests, subject specific. They are easier than A levels in terms of difficulty but you'll have to get used to the question style - rapid fire multiple choice as opposed to long answer written questions.

A levels should be considered in context with your college and the UK system as a whole. Admissions officers at Ivys should be clued up on what they mean and what a good grade is. If they have any sense, they'll recognise that they are more demanding than most US leavers exams, but you will still have to score very highly on the standardised tests.

I don't mean any offence but your GCSE predictions don't look stellar on their own so you'll need a very good application essay and extracurriculars to stand out in the process.

When you start Year 12, I would highly highly recommend applying to join the Sutton Trust US Programme. The programme will pay your testing fees, provide you with test prep, individual application support, and general guidance. You'll also benefit from a free 1-week residential at an Ivy or top US uni in the summer between Y12 and Y13. Just being on the programme in itself is usually enough to grab the attention of admissions staff because they know the calibre of students that the programme produces.

Good luck!
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Doones
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(Original post by maiacatherine)
Do I need to take 3 or 4? I know to apply to places like Trinity Dublin you need 4
That's not entirely correct:

"Recognising that only 1 in 8 students in Northern Ireland do 4 A-Levels, Trinity has developed a feasibility study for A-Level admissions, which will continue for students from Northern Ireland seeking admission in 2018. The results will be shared with the other Irish colleges, to see if it could be used as a possible mechanism to admit all A-Level applicants from within the EU.

"Students applying to Trinity from Northern Ireland in 2018 will be eligible for all of the places that will be filled in the normal way through the CAO system. However, a set number of places (maximum 3 per course) will be set aside for the purposes of the feasibility study, which will allow students to access any course* with only 3 A-Levels. Students taking 4 A-Levels are also eligible for places offered through the Feasibility Study - their best three subjects will be considered for places offered in the study.
"* Medicine is not included due to HPAT requirements"

https://www.tcd.ie/study/country/n-ireland/
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bant_bus
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(Original post by maiacatherine)
hi all! Thanks so much for your advice. Found out that most universities treat me the same as US born and raised students as I'm a citizen- this means I could potentially get more aid BUT makes it more competitive.
Hi, I'm a UK A-level student that got into an Ivy League uni. Being a US citizen will NEVER hurt you in the process ever - it will always help you. This can be through being eligible to literally 10-50 times more scholarships than international students and having a higher acceptance rate because of you're not subject to the self-imposed international student quota. Take MIT for example which has a 7.9% acceptance rate overall - for internationals, it's a horrible 2.8%..... that's why any international, non-US Citizen who get into places like MIT are pretty much superhumans, sigh. Schools like Vanderbilt, Columbia and Yale have these quotas too but hey aren't as low as MIT's.

Good luck!
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Ivymaybe
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I am the mum of a current Harvard Freshman. What nobody here seems to have mentioned is that most Ivy acceptances are to students who have, in addition to almost all A grades at GCSE (I think you need to work a bit harder there, there is still time), have some high quality extra- curricular activities. In my daughter’s year from the U.K. (acceptance rate about 5% in line with US acceptance rate), there are a couple of National Youth Orchestra musicians, nationally rated sports people in everything from rock climbing to soccer and hockey, maths Olympiad finalists but also someone who has done amazing community work through girl guides for years, a journalist and a model United Nations leader. Almost everyone my daughter knows has some sort of additional activity they did a lot and for years (unless they are nearly genius level); basically they seem to be looking for people who make the most of all their opportunities as well as academic and who cope being super busy.Sutton Trust will really help if your family don’t have a high income, but I have to say that I am a single parent teacher and we didn’t qualify - we did everything through looking at the College Board and Harvard websites. Financial aid is amazing - my daughter will have no debt at the end of this, and she is really glad she has gone there as she is an all round academic student- I don’t think it is as good for anybody who is very focussed on their subject. She applied because she really didn’t know what to study at UK university.Hope that helps
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angelinahx
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(Original post by rickyrossman)
if you can get one, great. if you can't, think about other uni's like oxford, cambridge, imperial, work for a few years, then go do a masters at an ivy when you can afford it.
This. No point in going bankrupt for an undergrad regardless of where it's from when you can go to Oxbridge and subsequently do a masters at one of the Ivies.
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bant_bus
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(Original post by angelinahx)
This. No point in going bankrupt for an undergrad regardless of where it's from when you can go to Oxbridge and subsequently do a masters at one of the Ivies.
Read what M451 said about financial aid, maybe?
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bant_bus
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(Original post by Ivymaybe)
I am the mum of a current Harvard Freshman. What nobody here seems to have mentioned is that most Ivy acceptances are to students who have, in addition to almost all A grades at GCSE (I think you need to work a bit harder there, there is still time), have some high quality extra- curricular activities. In my daughter’s year from the U.K. (acceptance rate about 5% in line with US acceptance rate), there are a couple of National Youth Orchestra musicians, nationally rated sports people in everything from rock climbing to soccer and hockey, maths Olympiad finalists but also someone who has done amazing community work through girl guides for years, a journalist and a model United Nations leader. Almost everyone my daughter knows has some sort of additional activity they did a lot and for years (unless they are nearly genius level); basically they seem to be looking for people who make the most of all their opportunities as well as academic and who cope being super busy.Sutton Trust will really help if your family don’t have a high income, but I have to say that I am a single parent teacher and we didn’t qualify - we did everything through looking at the College Board and Harvard websites. Financial aid is amazing - my daughter will have no debt at the end of this, and she is really glad she has gone there as she is an all round academic student- I don’t think it is as good for anybody who is very focussed on their subject. She applied because she really didn’t know what to study at UK university. Hope that helps
100% true. The eye-popping grades plus the seemingly super-human extra-curricular activities. This very reflective of all the the top half(ish) of the Ivies and UChic, MIT and Stanford..
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bant_bus
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(Original post by rickyrossman)
I'm not a US student but I think the biggest problem you'll have is the funding. Ivies like Princeton and Columbia charge $45,000 a year for tuition. I've never heard of them offering scholarships to international students.
*$61,000. coming from someone who got 99% aid as an international student, I find this to be rather untrue
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angelinahx
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(Original post by bant_bus)
Did you not read what people like M451 said about financial aid?
Nope, I didn't. I stand corrected. Having this said, going to an Ivy League on a full-ride scholarship with 3 A*'s, 3A's and 3B's isn't very likely. Straight A students and US valedictorians are rejected on a regular basis.
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bant_bus
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(Original post by angelinahx)
Nope, I didn't. I stand corrected. Having this said, going to an Ivy League on a full-ride scholarship with 3 A*'s, 3A's and 3B's isn't very likely. Straight A students and US valedictorians are rejected on a regular basis.
Yeah, you're right. Even recruited athletes at Ivies, who tend to get more scholarship money, have at least 5A*s at GCSE. You'd have to get like 4As at AS, be predicted all A*s at A-level and have an amazing story to explain the low GCSEs to even have a chance of being accepted.

Schools like Harvey Mudd, Caltech, Columbia and Harvard can fill up a whole separate group of admits (~1,600) of rejected applicants that got perfect 36s and 2400s in the ACTs and SATs.
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angelinahx
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(Original post by bant_bus)
Yeah, you're right. Even recruited athletes at Ivies, who tend to get more scholarship money, have at least 5A*s at GCSE. You'd have to get like 4As at AS, be predicted all A*s at A-level and have an amazing story to explain the low GCSEs to even have a chance of being accepted.

Schools like Harvey Mudd, Caltech, Columbia and Harvard can fill up a whole separate group of admits (~1,600) of rejected applicants that got perfect 36s and 2400s in the ACTs and SATs.
Exactly - so say OP does amazing at A-levels and gets predicted A*A*A*A*, scores 2400 on the SAT+ SAT II scores, has good extracurricular activities/volunteer work, but due to "low" (not really low, they're good grades after all, just not Ivy material) GCSE results gets rejected from Princeton and Harvard, but does get an offer from Northwestern/UCLA/Duke/Carnegie Mellon, OP will go bankrupt (unless OP is v rich, if so then OP can do whatever OP wants) as these unis don't offer extensive scholarships/financial aid for international students. This is also true even if OP is a US citizen if OP is applying to a college out-of-state (which OP will do, regardless of what university OP applies to).
When OP could apply with the same results to Oxbridge ranked higher than most Ivy Leagues and above Harvard in some rankings, get in, do well and end up with no bankruptcy, save money for a couple years and then do a masters in the US at an Ivy League with financial aid.
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