Welcome back to our blog series, Six Secrets to Ivy League Acceptances!
For today’s post, we’re going to be discussing secret #3. Ready for it?
Aspiration beats achievement.
So what does that mean? It means that your past matters; but the way you communicate the past matters way more than what you’ve actually done.
The way we see it, there are two ways that you can apply to graduate school. Let’s say you spend years and years doing everything perfectly. You got a 3.8 GPA even though it meant sacrificing your social life. You landed internships at all the most prestigious companies, even though you hated the work you were doing. You studied for months on end to get the perfect score on the test. You’ve kept in touch with every person you’ve ever known in hopes of getting the best recommendation letter possible. And by doing all of these things to this level of perfection, you’re hoping that it’ll be enough to get you admitted into your dream school. We like to call this a cross your fingers application strategy.
There is however, a new way to complete your applications.
It combines a few different things: passion, persistence, performance, potential, personality, and perspective. A brilliant application to an Ivy League graduate school is going to combine evidence of your academic preparedness for the Ivy League classroom as well as communicate the diverse and impactful experiences you’ve had at work and in your life. You are going to submit letters of recommendation that are congruent with your essays, interview, and every other part of your application. Of course, you are going to submit outstanding essays and successfully convey how you both stand out from all the other people applying, and that you’ll also fit in with the students on campus once you get there.
Our secret weapon for getting this done is called the wounded warrior strategy (boxing gloves starting to make more sense?).
We encourage you to live your life, do your best, and make the decision that now is the time to go to your dream school. Then when it’s time to apply, come as you are, scars and all, showing the real flawed warrior of life that you are. Frame your past as exactly what you needed to get where you are today, regardless of GPA, work experience, age, race, etc. Your imperfect past is what has made you the courageous, resilient person that you are, and that person is 100% ready to make the most of an Ivy League education. That wounded warrior actually needs an Ivy League education and the opportunities that come with that more than someone who did everything perfectly.
So here’s an example of what we mean. We once had a client from Mexico that came to us with a 2.0 undergraduate GPA. And although most people would never even dream of applying to graduate school with that low of a GPA, especially an Ivy League, we saw potential in him and taught him the wounded warrior secret. We worked with him to write about his past in a way that made his low college GPA not a liability to his candidacy, but the exact reason he was now ready to make the most of an Ivy League education. We worked together on his application and he was admitted to his dream school of Columbia with a 2.0 GPA!
So what we’ve found is that even if you didn’t do everything perfectly in the past, you shouldn’t let that hold you back from pursuing your dreams. As long as you apply the secret of focusing more on the future than on the past, you will be well positioned to submit outstanding applications to your dream schools.
Be sure to check back next week as we reveal Secret #4!