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Am I qualified for Ivy League colleges?

QUESTION: I am a senior and plan on applying to a few rigorous colleges. I scored 1460 (730 each on the math and critical reading sections) on the SAT and 34 on the ACT. Because I earned 223 on the PSAT, I am a candidate for a National Merit Scholarship. I take the hardest available classes in my school, all honors and AP, and will have a 5.0 GPA by the end of my senior year. I am in National Honor Society and have been a member of Science Olympiad for the past three years, with a first place in my state for one event. I have been a competitive figure skater for the past 11 years but have not won any state awards. I did win a regional award for playing the flute and have been a member of a community orchestra for the past two years. I don't have much community service but have participated in church and NHS activities. I show commitment and leadership as the captain of Science Olympiad, but will that be enough? Signed, High Ambitions

Dear High Ambitions: You seem to have a good understanding of what it takes to get into selective colleges. In addition to a strong academic record, it also takes a commitment to an activity or talent.

Academically, you seem to be doing everything that you can. You have challenged yourself with honors and AP classes and have scored highly on standardized tests. Selective colleges will also consider your class rank, how heavy your courseload is compared to other students and your scores on SAT Subject Tests and AP tests. We’re guessing that with your track record so far you will also be strong in these areas.

Your activities are pretty strong with the state award in the Science Olympiad and regional flute award. Focus on these two areas and any other activities in which you think you can gain recognition or make a significant contribution. Focus on the quality of your contributions and not the quantity.

Remember that colleges will consider other factors, including teacher recommendations, essays and interviews. Dedicate yourself to making sure that you build the strongest application materials possible. You can get tips on getting strong teacher recommendations, writing your essay with our five-step essay workshop and interview questions you are likely to be asked in <I>Get Into Any College</I>.

You are on the right track. Study for the standardized tests you have left, continue to dedicate yourself to a few activities and commit yourself to creating powerful applications.

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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.