Tagged: Ivy League

Why Do Ivy Colleges Not Accept APs For Credit?

Why do Ivy League schools not accept APs?

Rosemary Ward Laberee

Rosemary Ward Laberee, Gig Education Expert – 21 years and still counting.Updated 10h ago

Posted on Quora 4/16/19

They have their reasons.

A few years ago Dartmouth did a study. They gave incoming students (who had taken AP psychology and got a 5 on the exam) a test to see how much they knew. At the same time they gave students who did not have AP psychology the same test. The students who had taken AP psychology and who had done quite well on the AP exam did no better on this assessment than the students who did not take AP Psychology.

They stopped accepting AP courses for college credit. Most elite universities are skeptical in this realm. They like to see their applicants have some AP course work because then they know that the student is prepared for college level work. But they prefer their students to take the basic courses at their college. Giving away Courses does them no favors and offers them no advantage. They do not need to negotiate this so usually they don’t.

Two of my own kids had taken AP micro and macro and did well on the exams. Their Ivy League college had no interest in awarding credit for this coursework, but, more importantly, according to my kids, that was a very good thing. Most of what they learned in these AP classes in high school was covered in the first six weeks of their college class. After that, the material was new. What they learned in the AP courses in high school was very inadequate when compared to what was covered in their actual college course for this subject.

Hope this helps –

Note added: This answer assumes the questioner wants to know why elite universities do not accept APs for credit, allowing the student to take fewer courses and pay less tuition. They don’t care very much about saving you money and they strongly prefer that you take the courses at their school. You might get to skip a class (without any tuition adjustment) and this may or may not be advisable.

Quora: How To Get Onto An Ivy Grad School

Sasha Carter
Sasha Carter, Freelance Admissions Essay Consultant at New Field International (2018-present)

In my personal experience, I started with a plan.


  1. Ace my courses. Do terribly in math and adjust this plan to acing the courses in my major, which I did.
  2. Build relationships with my professors and department heads. This actually worked because all my recommendation letters were from department heads or the most published faculty in my department. How can you do this? Tutor, be a TA, work closely with professors, learn how they think and be an asset to them. This makes it easier to get a recommendation letter.
  3. Get advice from Ivy League alumni at my school. This was by far the biggest help. Their advice was crucial in helping me put together my application. People who have already gotten in, know how to get in.
  4. Join organizations that I actually care about. For me, I wanted to be a writer and writing is big on community. We’re a solitary bunch so we take our human contact where we can. That means poetry slams, readings, and fostering literacy in the community.
  5. Audit graduate courses. I did this for funsies but I ended up presenting myself as a more serious candidate by doing so.
  6. Research. A lot of it. Buckets of it. Do your eyes feel fine? Then you didn’t do enough. I researched each Ivy’s motto, their acceptance rate, their faculty, said faculty’s published work, and I worked all this knowledge into my application essays.
  7. Pray. I’m not kidding. Light a candle at your church. Sacrifice a chicken. Get extra prayer power from your pastor. I’m not saying prayer was a factor but it doesn’t hurt. Also if you’re too busy focused on visualizing that acceptance letter, you’re not quietly freaking about not hearing anything.

Those were my steps. That was the plan I executed and I got in. I hope this helps and good luck.


What Were You Least Prepared For At An Ivy?

From Quora

What Were You Least Prepared For When You Entered An Ivy League School

Answered by Wes Lai, retired teacher of 34 years

“I did not attend an Ivy League school. My son did, and he graduated #1 in his class of 480 at a public high school. The one thing he said that blew him away was how students from private prep and boarding schools were so well prepared for college. The other thing was how everybody was just as smart as he was, or smarter. Culture shock.”

This answer explains why admission to Tier One colleges is competitive.  The outstanding student in any high school is just average in the pool of applicants to selective colleges.  All of the candidates have stellar grades in a rigorous curriculum.  Most will have nearly perfect scores.  Admission depends on the interests, passions and accomplishments outside of school.   Overcoming challenges, solving real world problems, and having done something that benefits others gain traction in the admissions office.

Lai’s response highlights the epidemic of depression and anxiety experienced on college campuses.  Discovering that you aren’t the smartest person in the room when your parents, teachers and accomplishments have told you just that, is difficult for many students to accept.  They believe that less than perfect grades or not having the answer to a difficult question shows them to be  weak and failing.

As parents, we need to emphasize that the quest is more important than the badge of achievement.  A goal should be to grow, become better at the tasks we undertake, to focus our  education on how to use knowledge and experience to help others. Most of all we need to treat failure as a part of moving forward: it teaches persistence, humility and spurs determination.  Sometimes it opens doors to new thinking.

As I’ve told countless students,  when you get to college you will meet people who have had different experiences than you have, learned bits of information that diverge from what you are familiar with,  connect the dots in a different pattern.  That doesn’t make one of you smarter or a better student: its another opportunity to apply critical thinking.

When you’re ready to talk about a college list, or ways in which college might surprise you, I’ll be waiting to hear from you. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.



How Can I Stand Out On An Ivy Application?

Cindy Greatrex
Cindy Greatrex, Associate Medical Officer

A friend of mine was in Admissions at Columbia for many years and had some good advice. So I assume you have the baseline excellent grades and test scores. But how to stand out? Look at what is missing at the school.

My friend said she read through thousands of applications every year where the applicant was a violinist. Problem? Orchestras need only so many violinists. What was desperately needed was a French horn player. Orchestral music scores almost always have the French horn. But she almost never received an application from a French horn player!

Sane is true for Fencing and Squash. Ivies tend to need more fencers and squash players than they have applications from.

Also look at niche majors. Cornell has a fantastic Forestry major but not a ton of Applicants.

Lastly look at what you can Create. Ivies look fondly on inventions, trademarks, patents, something that you felt passionate about and created. The Ivies get tons of Applications from people who worked with the homeless, or in a clinic, or in a food pantry, or off to Africa for the summer to assist in vaccination programs. All outstanding things, obviously.

But show Admissions what you Created, not just what you Joined.

Readers: this advice is solid and highlights one of the difficulties in gaining admission to selective colleges: qualified applicants are a dime a dozen but finding the few who have something unusual is difficult.  Fill a niche and you increase the chances of success.  Lets talk about your unique opportunities. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Why Elite Colleges Struggle With Admissions

Why is Carnegie Mellon’s admissions yield so low?
George Anders for Quora
George Anders, long-ago econ major, dabbled in everything from Dostoevsky to statistics.


Yields at many elite schools such as Carnegie-Mellon, Reed, Mt. Holyoke, etc. are falling because of what amounts to a queueing theory nightmare at the super-elite schools (Harvard, Stanford, etc.)

Let’s take a moment to review the overall U.S. college admissions landscape right now. There are perhaps 40,000 students a year who have SAT composites of 2180 or better, and then another 40,000 whose life stories, GPAs, etc. are so compelling that they are clearly worthy contenders for slots at the super elite (SE) schools

When the SE schools had admissions rates of 16% to 25%, it was a rational strategy for worthy contenders to apply to two or three super-elite schools that they really liked, and then to round out their application portfolios with two or three schools that were deemed safer choices.

But then a variety of changes made it easier to apply to a lot of schools, even as family pressure to get into an SE school intensified. So prime candidates began applying to 10 schools or more. This boom in applications actually did not make the system work better. It made everything worse … in a variant of the problems that arise when too many cars stream through the on-ramps of a major freeway and create super-saturation of the available driving lanes.

Now we’ve got schools such as Harvard and Stanford getting 40,000 applications plus … and offering acceptance letters to only 5% to 6% of applicants. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lo… Admissions officers acknowledge that the top 5,000 to 10,000 applicants all are amazing students who would be fine additions to the campus. Alas, there aren’t enough slots for everyone. So the final sifting of candidates is agonizing for the admissions office — and an utter mystery to outsiders.

What students and their parents can see is that the odds of admission to any particular SE school are getting worse every year. Applicants deal with this by doing something that’s individually rational but collectively awful. They start applying to even more schools! The result: schools like Carnegie-Mellon become the sixth choice — or 17th choice — of many great students who ordinarily wouldn’t apply to CMU, because it isn’t a perfect match for what they want to study.

chance-717501_640Because the very best applicants are anxious to get into SOME elite school, they widen their efforts to a grotesque degree. The admissions offices at CMU and its kin are in the awkward position of needing to move first to resolve this impasse. So they courageously offer admission to the high-school superstars with 20 applications in play, inviting the artificially low yield ratios that will ensue.

Medical residency programs suffered from a similar problem years ago, with med-school graduates bombarding too many programs with too many applications because everyone’s application-dispersing strategy was making it harder for anyone to target their primary choices with much hope of success. Eventually this was resolved with a clever matching system that has since been refined by economist Alvin Roth. Here’s a nice Wikipedia entry on his work: Alvin E. Roth. Note that he ended up getting a Nobel Prize for his efforts.

We aren’t quite at the same stage of needing a matching system for elite college applications, but it’s getting close.

Looking for a rational way to choose selective private colleges and public Ivies?  Do You want to increase the chances of admission to any of the colleges of your choice?  Call/text 610-212-6679 or email Stephanie at Access College and Career Consultants, stephanie@accessguidance.com

Three Truths About Harvard

John Harvard
John Harvard

The most frequently asked question about higher education is “How can I get into Harvard/Yale/Princeton/Stanford?” Here are Three Truths about top universities that you should consider before setting your sights on one of the giants.

Truth#1 The professors upon whom the reputation of these institutions is built and continues to grow are known for developing new knowledge and wisdom rather than their classroom performance. Primarily, they teach graduate students and rarely interact with undergrads. Most teach because it is required of them to keep the funds for research and publication flowing. While some professors are born to share what they know in a classroom, many aren’t as good at teaching as your high school math teacher; others resent the time they are forced to spend away from their real passion.

Truth #2 Employers are interested in how you will serve the mission of the company and improve the bottom line. Candidates show that by the quality of their internships and the work they have produced for their internship hosts. Having a degree from a prestigious university may get you a first interview but the name of the granting institution alone isn’t going to get you beyond first base. After your first job, with very few exceptions, employers or hiring managers aren’t going to care where your degree comes from: they only want to see your accomplishments in previous positions.

Truth #3 If you really, really, really, want a degree from a top tier university, do your undergraduate work anywhere you can succeed, stretch yourself, acquire good training, find opportunities and create networks. Apply to Harvard, et al, for your terminal degree* where you will have access to fine minds and collaboration with renowned professors. Many of the graduate schools of the universities on your wish list don’t admit their own undergrads, preferring to bring in different perspectives among the graduate school students. A terminal degree from Harvard or Stanford is far more impressive and the effect lasts a whole lot longer than a BA or BS from either one.

*A terminal degree is the highest degree awarded in a field of study or practice.  JD in law; PsyD or PhD in psychology; PhD in biology; MD or DO in medicine, are examples.


Are you wondering which universities excel in teaching undergraduates in your field?  Text or call Stephanie 610-212-6679.


This article also appeared on LinkedIn Pulse 5/13/16

In Praise of Non-Ivy Universities and Colleges

I write this for all college bound students in any grade but especially for those who are waiting to hear their fate from the colleges to which you have applied.

Many of you have worked for years to achieve the statistics that certain prestigious colleges expect.  Others have carefully created a yellow brick road to much desired outcome that begins with college admission.

College is not a destination, its a tool.

The name of the institution you attend will not determine your future.  You do that by what you accomplish and what you learn.  At the bottom of this post is a link to Frank Bruni’s article, How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.

Many  of you will not get into your first choice but will lead successful, fulfilled lives anyway.

“For every person whose contentment comes from faithfully executing a predetermined script, there are at least 10 if not 100 who had to rearrange the pages and play a part they hadn’t expected to, in a theater they hadn’t envisioned. Besides, life is defined by setbacks, and success is determined by the ability to rebound from them. And there’s no single juncture, no one crossroads, on which everything hinges.”

Bruni looked up the CEOs of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies.  Only one attended an Ivy League or Tier 1 university as an undergraduate.

“{T]he nature of a student’s college experience — the work that he or she puts into it, the self-examination that’s undertaken, the resourcefulness that’s honed — matters more than the name of the institution attended.”

Seniors, I wish you the best of luck in your acceptances and in your college career.  May you have the good fortune to attend a university that  will stimulate you and push you to succeed.

College is a tool.  Juniors and younger, I hope that you will appreciate the value of knowing how to make the most of its benefits.  Consider the cost in terms of debt as well as your self-worth when building a list of colleges to apply to.  Most students end up in the right place even if it isn’t where they thought they were going.

Here’s what Bruni has to say: