When it comes to post-secondary institutions, those belonging to the prestigious Ivy League are customarily seen as the best in the world. For many students, getting into an Ivy League school is the ultimate dream - even in this day and age, having any of them listed on a résumé is still universally considered as a one-way ticket to a secure future.
Canada doesn't have any Ivy League universities. McGill and UBC have claimed themselves as northern versions of such, but the bitter reality is that they really aren't the same; as renowned and accomplished as they are. The "Harvard of Canada" is still Harvard. The "Yale of Canada" is still Yale.
But this is not to say that the eight Ivy League universities are better than Canadian universities. They just have a particular whimsy that often puts them in a separate class of their own.
So, if a Canadian wants to get into an Ivy League university, he or she is going to have to look to America and go through the same rigorous application process as everyone else. Obviously, having a burning ambition isn't enough to get in - the world's brightest minds will be competing for the coveted spots too, so it's going to take a lot of hard work and creativity to distinguish oneself from the crowd.
Of the Ivy League universities, Harvard sits at the very top, having been ranked the #1 academic institution in the world on multiple occasions. This year, the acceptance rate was a tight 5.2%, which means out of the 40,000 students that applied, only 2080 received offers of admission.
But it's not entirely impossible to get in - in fact, two students from Canada managed to snag offers of admission this year, one for Harvard law and the other for medicine. In both cases, the road to Harvard involved several intricate steps, all of which needed to be completed with near-perfect execution.
Here's what it takes to get accepted into Harvard:
First, applicants would need to take the SATs (or LSATs for law). According to Prep Scholar, To get a score that's competitive enough for Harvard, one would need a score of at least 1470, which is still generally considered as below average for their standards. A 1600 (a perfect score) would be the ideal, in combination with a GPA that is strictly 4.0.
Once an applicant lands a score that he or she is satisfied with, he or she would need to send in an impeccable application package, complete with personal statements, essays, reference letters, academic transcripts and test scores. If one's credentials are impressive enough, the applicant would be considered for an in-person interview with a recruiter.
The interview is of critical importance - it's the applicant's chance to demonstrate what makes him or her stand out from the competition, whether through one's personality, community involvement, experience and work ethic.
Emily Hunter, a Niagara Falls native who got admitted into Harvard earlier this year, showcased her involvement in tutoring, the mayor's youth advisory committee, and student and athletic councils. Her smoking gun, however, was her volunteering work at Brock University, where she was part of a team that conducted lung cancer research.
While the aforementioned steps are crucial, a lot of it is definitely just luck. It's about making sure your application is rock solid and leaving no breathing room for doubt or suspicion.
On a completely separate note, applicants should be financially prepared to cover the costs of attending, should they get into Harvard. The price tag for a Harvard education? $50,000.