How to deal with Ivy Day?

Admission is an imprecise process which leads to the most important bitter truth: failing to gain admission to an Ivy League school is not the end of the world. Here is article on how to deal with Ivy Day.

Updated by Smriti Singh on 23rd June 2020

What is an Ivy Day?

Ivy Day is the day when all Ivy League schools release their regular admissions decisions online, usually in late March. The eight Ivies i.e. Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University typically release their decisions at the same exact time.

Remember, just because you have perfect grades, test scores, etc Does not mean that you will be automatically admitted into an Ivy League school.

Acceptance or Rejection

Whether you get accepted or not really depends on how you present yourself on paper. All the blood, sweat and tears that you put into your extracurricular and leadership activities are meaningless if you don’t know how to capture that in the extracurricular section or the personal statement or the college application, in a meaningful manner. It also depends on how you present your personal qualities, leadership and commitment to your community through the application. This takes the form of personal statements, extracurricular activities, and recommendation letters that help the admissions officers determine whether to accept or reject you.

However, there is a not so bitter truth one must appreciate, about the Ivies that the top Ivies are not merely interested in students that do well in numbers i.e, SAT, GPA scores, etc. There are lots of such “perfect” students far more than the schools can accommodate but they want the students whom they believe best reflect their respective educational cultures.

So, if you are perfect but fail to get in, don’t take that rejection as an issue of student ranking, discrimination or other such reasons.. It is a matter of matching. And that matching policy can change from year to year, given the school’s strategy.

And the result is that the majority of admitted Ivy League students have a certain superlative quality that can only be described as exciting and amazing. Such people can’t sit still. They are exciting to behold and you just enjoy listening to them. They are more than just overachievers, they are pioneers within their own spaces. And they are inspiring. 

Look at the admissions process as an economic transaction between the university, on the behalf of its trustees and you. Realize that for all their talk about being non-profits and their charity, universities are essentially profit-driven, and it's not a bad thing. They are looking to maximize returns on the endowment for a group of people i.e. the trustees. So the admissions officer is on the front-line of this war to maximize returns on the endowment

They do this by selecting candidates who meet two standards:

They are more likely than not to be able to contribute to the university in the long-run.

These are people who are likely to give back either financially through donations later on, or financially through being good researchers or graduate assistants to bring in grants for the university. They are also people who are likely to attract more high-quality applicants, as the university will plaster their successful grads all over the material in one capacity or another.

They are more likely than not to be able to impress the current donors in the short-run.

The university loves to show-off its current students to alumni either through galas, newsletters, open houses, or whatever event that gets the alumni to be in front of current students and feel proud of the university for “producing such great young people.”

This means that, in order to reduce risk and find the best possible candidates who meet these requirements, the universities don’t select people that they think will get much out of school. They select those who will be great with or without the school and then will take at least partial credit for their later-on greatness.


The biggest mistake that the students make is not taking their application seriously enough. This tends to happen with overachievers, who believe that their grades, test scores, and even national academic awards are enough to get them in.

So yes, do pursue your passions and your interests, and work hard during your four years of high school. Just remember to capture and express all of your personal qualities in the college application itself, and write a genuine, notable personal statement that helps the admissions officers understand the qualities that define you.

Because at the end of the day, the bitter truth is that admissions to Ivy League schools is highly dependent on how well you present yourself on paper and draft your personal statement.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”

---Bo Bennett