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What should I do to get into an Ivy League school?

QUESTION: I am a ninth grader. My future and what I can make of myself is probably one of the most important things to me. When I was about 13, I visited the Harvard University Web site for the first time. After that point I purchased books and visited Web sites to help fulfill my dream of attending an incredible university. I work hard and do very well in school. I guess it makes me unique to feel so strongly at my age. One thing that I expect is to be accepted into an Ivy League school. I would appreciate if you could give me your best advice possible so one day perhaps I can write back telling you that I have just enrolled into Harvard. Signed, Worker Bee

Dear Worker Bee: Nothing would make us happier than for you to tell us you got into your dream school. That is what we try to help you and everyone else do.

We are guessing you have already read our book, Get Into Any College. In it you will find more information than we could possibly have online about how to get into a selective college. Pay particular attention to the Stories From Real Life, which are entertaining and also convey some real examples of what has worked as well as what has failed for students in the past.

Since you are starting so early, pay particular attention to Chapter 13 on what you can do before your senior year to prepare. We wrote it with students like you in mind.

One point which we cannot stress often enough is that in addition to excelling academically, you need to focus on an aspect that will help you stand out. Often this is an activity or talent. So while you are young, explore and try a variety of things and find a few that excite you the most. For the remainder of your high school years, work at excelling in these areas. Look for opportunities to gain regional and state level recognition. Go beyond what typical students do who are involved in the same activities. This is something that is very hard to do in your senior year. It is really something that you have to do over a period of time so the sooner you start the better. Remember that when it comes to activities, schools like Harvard are looking for quality not quantity.

It also goes without saying that you need to do well in your classes and take the most challenging course load in your school. The guiding principle is when faced with a choice, take the most difficult route. Also, take your standardized tests early to find out if you need to spend some time studying for them. Don't wait until your senior year to take the SAT Reasoning Test and SAT Subject Tests.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.