Wondering what it Takes to get into a Hyper-Selective College?


Wondering what it Takes to get into a Hyper-Selective College?

With an increasing number of colleges and universities entering the realm of 4%-15% acceptance rate (or 96%-85% rejection rate), we are often asked, “Who actually gets into these schools anymore?”

Keep in mind that there are hundreds and hundreds of fantastic colleges and universities that are not hyper-selective (and many that can be attended at a steep discount). It is also important to realize that these less selective schools may not only be more realistic in terms of admissions but also a better match.

But for those wondering who has a shot at being accepted by a hyper-selective school, here is a list of the common qualities among admitted students:

--They have taken the most rigorous curriculum available and have perfect or near perfect grades, multiple 5s on AP tests, and SAT/ACT scores at or above 1500/34

--They have a strong inner drive to accomplish and are confident, mature, compassionate, and involved

--Participation, leadership and/or recognition in their activity at the state or national level

--A high degree of independence, with accomplishments that involve little parental pressure or involvement

--Genuine passion; they are not preoccupied with “what will look good to colleges”

In other words, these students have both the stats and the fire.

Students considering hyper-selective schools must exhibit a genuine passion for learning

Below are some examples of actual students who fit the bill. How do we know that? Each of these students has won the Cameron Impact Scholarship, a highly competitive, full-tuition college scholarship offered to less than 15 high school seniors per year (to learn more about the Cameron Impact Scholarship--and to read about more past winners--click here). We can safely assume that anyone capable of winning this scholarship has a realistic shot at a hyper-selective college.

Nikita B.

Since her freshman year of high school, Nikita has led her own 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Girl STEMpowerment. The mission of Girl STEMpowerment is to increase young girls' interest in STEM through hands-on educational experiences which also help them develop creativity, cooperative learning, enhanced minds, and critical thinking skills. Girl STEMpowerment has hosted numerous workshops, large-scale events, and community projects impacting girls from across the world. Nikita is also passionate about enhancing agricultural literacy and environmental science opportunities for youth through building food technology, in which she helps lead large-scale projects such as Food Tech for the Future: Growing Digital Farmers and Sow It Forward in partnership with the nonprofit, Arizona Sustainability Alliance. She expanded this interest by interning on a computational climate research project with NASA and UT Austin’s Center for Space Research (CSR) in the summer of 2020.

With a strong passion for advocacy and government, Nikita also helps lead the youth organization, Arizona Youth Climate Coalition (AZYCC), a climate justice group led entirely by youth focused on ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all Arizonans through environmental policy and community efforts, and she is the Chairwoman of her city’s Mayor’s Youth Commission. In school, she enjoys acting as Co-President of Basha’s Science is Fun, hosting interactive scientific demonstrations for people around Arizona, and serving as President of Basha Green People’s Society. Nikita is a HERLead Fellow, TEDx Speaker, and Presidential Environmental Youth Award recipient, amongst other accolades.

Christian G.

Since his sophomore year, Christian has worked for a variety of organizations dedicated to social justice. As State Chair for High School Democrats of Mississippi, he has overseen chapter expansion, calling over thousands of people, and registering thousands of voters. As State Chair, he also wrote, was awarded and executed a grant by Blue Future to organize in the State of Mississippi. He has also previously served as National Policy and Political Action Director for Generation Ratify: a youth-led organization to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Christian was also chosen as a 4-H Youth ambassador representing Mississippi in Washington D.C. During his time there, he and two other team members won a grant to build a community garden, called The People’s Pantry, for individuals who don’t have access to healthy food. He was also chosen to be a delegate to The Black National Convention.

At his school, Christian is the President of the Speech and Debate team. On the Speech and Debate Team, Christian has made it to the round of 32 at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament in Policy Debate and the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in World Schools Debate, respectively, for the past two years. He was also awarded Academic All-American by the National Speech and Debate Association. At Madison Central High School, Christian also served as Sophomore SGA Class President, a board member of the Minority Student’s Union and a National Honor Society member. Christian also is passionate about writing and has won two National Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key awards and 2 Silver Key Awards. Christian will be attending Harvard College in the Fall of 2021.

Ethan W.

In addition to his strong academics, Ethan is devoted to bridging our society with our environment through business and economics. Having witnessed the BP oil spill at age eight, Ethan sought to use his education to remedy such disasters through engineering blockchain-based aquatic tracking chips. Founding The Xenia Project (www.thexeniaproject.org), Ethan implemented these microchips to conserve three highly- endangered fish species in Arizona: the Apache trout, the Colorado pikeminnow, and the Gila chub, tracing their migrational patterns to eliminate the factors driving their extinction. With recent institutional funding, Ethan is now bringing his blockchain-based technologies to Australia to recover the waning populations of the Southern bluefin tuna.

On land, Ethan furthers his environmental work by researching sustainable economics with Professor Yuri Tserlukevich at Arizona State University. Having co-authored a working paper on mergers and acquisitions with Professor Tserlukevich, Ethan aims to harness the academic principles of business to optimize his own sustainability ventures. Additionally, recognizing the versatility of his blockchain-based innovations earlier this year, Ethan began using his technology to predict the spread of COVID-19 with four peers from his school, together forming the initiative Remidi-19 (www.remidi19.org) and 3D-printing medical supplies for at-risk hospitals. Finally, Ethan seeks to spread his environmental messages through serving as the captain of the boys' varsity track and field team at his school, crafting environmental PSAs for his ventures, and writing for his school's newspaper whenever possible.

In addition to his strong academics, Bridger has a passion for innovation, agriculture, and community service. Bridger is an active leader in Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and his school's Student Council and Debate clubs. He is dedicated to serving his community in rural South Dakota. Bridger has served as a correspondent for local and regional newspapers (like the Meade Co. Times-Tribune, Bear Butte Breezes, and Rapid City Journal). Bridger has spent countless hours volunteering in his community through educating the students and public about the importance of agriculture, while also spearheading the creation of the Teens Teach Technology program to help the senior citizen community connect with their family and friends through technology.

Pablo R.

Alongside his interest in healthcare policy, Pablo is passionate about addressing public health inequities through social activism. After volunteering in 2018 at Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP), a summer camp for those with special needs, Pablo was motivated to found the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization The Invisible Project, Inc. to advocate for the marginalized members of his community – particularly those with disabilities and the impoverished. In February 2019, Pablo created a photographic exhibition raising over $30,000 to sponsor special-needs individuals from the Rio Grande Valley to attend CAMP. In 2020, he focused on addressing the healthcare deficit in his community, funding a $75,000 COVID-19 and diabetes mobile medical clinic for indigent care facility El Milagro Clinic. He plans to intern with the clinic in the spring of 2021, providing healthcare outreach through the mobile unit.

Pablo has led an initiative addressing food insecurity, co-founding the Rio Grande Valley’s first series of school and Boys and Girls Club food pantries named the Energy Bar. He spread this platform statewide as a Health Ambassador for a Ready Texas and was recognized by national wellness agency Salud America as one of four “Latino Leaders Eliminating Food Insecurity in Texas.” As Student Council President, he created an adapted, to-go Energy Bar for students during the pandemic.

Pablo has also been involved in the McAllen Mayor’s Wellness Council, developing solutions to local public health issues alongside community stakeholders. In the summer of 2020, Pablo attended Texas Boys State, a summer program focusing on state government, and was elected out of over 700 students to the statewide positions of Whip and Commissioner of Agriculture. Additionally, Pablo has been an active student researcher, conducting neuro-reproductive endocrinology studies analyzing MCF-7 breast cancer cells and an in-patient study on the connection between opioid abuse and elective procedures. Pablo was nationally recognized as a DHL Global Youth Fellow, Gold Presidential Service Award recipient, and has received various grants supporting his endeavors. Pablo will be attending Stanford University in the Fall of 2021.

Emma O.

Inspired by her childhood love for Pennsylvania’s woods and creeks, Emma is fiercely devoted to creating progressive environmental legislation promoting wildlife and fisheries management, forestry, and outdoor recreation.

Emma served as President of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation, dedicating herself to passing state bills, providing testimony on controversial issues to State Agencies, writing letters to legislators, filming public service announcements on safe hunting and fishing with the PA Game and PA Fish and Boat Commissions, and promoting outreach information to her peers on the round goby, an invasive species. Her proudest moment includes helping to pass Senate Bill 147, which allowed Sunday Hunting in PA, promoting diversity in state wildlife management and reducing the prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in white-tailed deer. In her Sophomore year of high school, Emma founded an organization called the Community Conservation Corps. As its President, she has led students in many volunteer projects, such as cleaning up local streams and instituting composting in her school’s cafeteria. Emma has published several scientific wildlife articles since her Freshman year of high school, including features in the Natural History, Ruffed Grouse Society, and Pennsylvania Wildlife Magazines. Emma has participated in several leadership programs, such as the Keystone Girls’ State and the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminars, but she has been most involved with the Wildlife Leadership Academy (WLA), an intensive summer program focused on environmental stewardship. She has completed more than 100 hours of volunteer/outreach work for the WLA each school year (e.g. educational presentations, field volunteer activities, and conservation artwork), and has supported the program in a leadership role every summer after her first.

Between balancing rigorous academics, extracurricular passions, and part-time work, Emma spends her free time creek wading, reading horror novels, and camping. She will be attending Bowdoin College in the Fall of 2021, where she will focus on Environmental, Arctic, and Government/Legal Studies--when she is not hiking along the rocky coasts and pine forests of Maine.

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