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Ways For Everyone To Go To The Ivy League

Ways For Everyone To Go To The Ivy League

No matter what age you are, your educational background, or your money situation, obtaining a quality education shouldn’t be such a hassle. While friends, family, or the media may attempt to say that perhaps your goals are too lofty, or that you should focus on a goal that is more practical, it is not impossible to get into an ivy league school. You just have to have a specific strategy tailored toward yourself in order to brand yourself in the best way possible to make that dream a reality. Below, I’ve listed some ways to get you thinking about what strategy would work best for your unique situation.

Scenario One: High School Student

One advantage of being a high school student is being accustomed to modern day testing. Knowing that college is the end goal, preferably, an elite college, it is important to attempt to take quality classes and start preparing in freshman year for acceptance into a good university.

It is important to take SAT preparation courses in and outside of school, especially focusing on weaker subjects. A less popular exam is the ACT, but this test covers more subject areas and also covers more material meant to be taught in high school. Taking both is beneficial in analyzing ones strengths and weaknesses and determining which scores are more beneficial to send to universities.

For high school electives, focus on college preparatory curriculum and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Taking these classes shows a talent for the subject area, at the end of which an exam is administered for college credit.

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Keeping a high GPA (Grade Point Average) is very important, as well as joining a few school clubs or sports. It is important to show a passion for a topic or an activity.

During the summers, study independently for College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. Each exam allows a student to test out of a college course for a fraction of the cost. Taking several can prove to a panel of admissions counselors how serious a candidate is for gaining admission, and their ability to do the hard work associated with college.

Homeschooled students can use the same strategy.

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    Scenario Two: College Student

    Everyone talks about getting into an elite university in high school and those types of discussions typically wane when undergraduate school starts. Many people forget that they can transfer into a better university or get into a quality graduate school during or after their undergraduate years.

    For example, let’s say your high school years weren’t the best grade wise, and tests scores were average. It is still possible to get into an elite university. Understand, an undergraduate career means that you’re starting over. What you did in high school no longer matters, and high school activities should not be listed on any resumes. The strategy isn’t to shift focus, but to attempt to gain entry another way. One strategy is to transfer into an elite school from a lesser-known university. Ideally, focus on getting the best grades possible, engage in multiple on-campus activities, and on building work-experience.

    On-campus jobs are a good starting point, with the end-goal of transferring in for Junior and Senior year. If that doesn’t work, finishing one’s undergraduate degree with invaluable activities, work experience, and a high GPA will be important. The next best bet is to attempt to get into a graduate degree program at an elite school.

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      Scenario Three: Non-Traditional Adult

      The Non-Traditional Adult student can be a variety of things: a career student, someone with a bachelor’s degree looking for a master’s, someone with a family looking to increase their knowledge in a field, etc.

      For the Non-traditional adult without a degree, it’s important to gain the undergraduate degree first, and then aim for an ivy league graduate school. It is less likely for a school to accept someone for a bachelor’s program if they have been out of high school for a while. They cannot typically base admission on those old scores from 10-15 years ago. By taking CLEP tests, a student can lessen their time obtaining a bachelors degree.

      For the non-traditional adult with a degree looking for advanced options, timing can be an issue as family and work must take priority. By now, a solid work history and resume has been established. Try to find online degrees at elite schools. Harvard Extension School has great programs for online undergraduate and graduate degrees.

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        Strategies for All Groups:

        When applying to an elite university, the schools not only take into account grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, but also a personal essay and letters of recommendation. That’s why it is so important to get to know your profession and attempt to establish a friendship with those you admire. The personal essay can also help to take an average application and turn it into a “yes” application, so be sure to share an amazing story with the admissions department at the schools. Also review and/or purchase books depicting essays and application stats of people who applied to the schools you’re interested in before you. Learn what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to getting in.

        Students of all ages, whether they haven’t been in school for over ten years, or are just starting college, can benefit from CLEP tests to show schools how they can do rigorous college work, so take as many as you can.

        Do not discount online options. Some elite schools, such as Cornell University, offer online certificates at a lower cost than one semester of tuition. These are great add-ons to every resume, not just because of the name and prestige of the school, but because of what you have learned.

        Check out free online classes. There are now transcripts available from schools such as Yale  and MIT online at no cost to you. You won’t get credit for them, but at least you might learn something.

        Your library is your best friend. Whether it is your local library or school library, all the sources you’ll ever need on any topic will be available there. Use that resource as much as possible. It will be worth it.

        Ultimately, have faith in yourself and happy studying!

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        Last Updated on February 18, 2019

        How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

        How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

        These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

        58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

        Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

        “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

        So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

        Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

        1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

        The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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        Encourage Your Employees

        When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

        Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

        Offer Rewards

        Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

        The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

        Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

        Give Autonomy

        Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

        Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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        Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

        2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

        I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

        Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

        For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

        We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

        Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

        A To Do Scheduling System

        Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

        The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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        I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

        With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

        Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

        3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

        The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

        “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

        An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

        What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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        Ask If They like What They’re Doing

        If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

        There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

        “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

        The Bottom Line

        Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

        Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

        For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

        Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

        More Resources About Team Management

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

        Reference

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