Every year, high school students across the nation and around the world anxiously await Ivy Day. It’s the day Ivy League hopefuls learn whether they’ve been accepted to one (or more) of the renowned Ivy League colleges: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell.
In this post, we’ll share all the facts about Ivy Day, its history, and what you should do after hearing the big news.
What Is Ivy Day?
On Ivy Day, all eight Ivy League schools release their admissions decisions (for regular decision applicants) simultaneously. Early action and early decision applicants hear their results before Ivy Day, typically in December or January.
The Ivy League universities announce their decisions at the same time, usually 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET. Most non-Ivy schools release their decisions on other days, although there is sometimes overlap.
It’s an exciting day for Ivy League applicants, especially those who applied to multiple Ivies. For instance, if you apply regular decision to Columbia, Yale, and Cornell, you can find out the decisions of all three schools at the same time on Ivy Day.
Not surprisingly, Ivy Day often results in webpage crashes and long loading times. Thousands of applicants check their application status at once, so you may find that you don’t get your answer(s) at exactly 5 or 7 p.m. If you’re feeling stressed, take a walk, watch a favorite movie, or enjoy another activity for a while before trying to load your results again.
When Is Ivy Day?
Usually, Ivy Day occurs in late March. However, this year’s Ivy Day date is April 6. That’s because this year, the Ivy League universities received more applications than ever before. They need more time to evaluate applicants before announcing their decisions.
Harvard, for example, received a record-breaking number of applicants in 2021. About 16,700 more students applied to Harvard this year than last year. That’s a huge jump!
One possible explanation is that the Ivy League universities (and many others) adopted test-optional policies in response to the pandemic. This means that students can apply to Ivy League schools without sending ACT/SAT scores. Test-optional policies may have encouraged more students to aim for the Ivy League.
In previous years, admitted students had to accept or decline their Ivy League spot by May 1st. This year, students have until 11:59 p.m. ET on May 3rd to notify schools of their decision. This gives you a little more time to compare schools and make the best choice for you.
History of Ivy Day
The term “Ivy League” was officially coined in 1954, when the NCAA Division I athletic conference was formed. Unlike schools in other conferences, the eight universities in the Ivy League initially agreed not to offer athletic scholarships. They wanted their athletes to be academically qualified students with athletic talents, rather than professionals recruited mostly for their success in sports.
Over the years, the relationship between the Ivy League universities grew. Representatives from the eight schools began meeting regularly to discuss topics including athletics, academics, admissions procedures, and educational philosophy.
Today, the term “Ivy League” is about much more than sports. It represents ideals and practices shared by some of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious universities. For schools who share such similar educational philosophies, it makes sense to share an admissions decision day too.
“Ivy Day” is also a term for an annual ceremony held at northeastern schools with long histories, particularly the Ivy League universities. On the “other” Ivy Day, an ivy stone is placed on an academic building or the college grounds to represent academic excellence. The stones are usually decorated with the graduation date and a symbol representing that year’s class, sometimes an engraving of a prominent member of the class.
In short, the history of Ivy Day is steeped in a tradition of academic excellence, and it’s an honor to be part of it!
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What to Do After Ivy Admissions Day
No matter what results you get on Ivy Day, you’ll be left with one especially pressing question: What do I do next?
Below, we’ll take a closer look at several Ivy Day scenarios and provide expert advice to help you navigate the next steps.
What to Do If You’re Accepted
If you’re accepted to your first choice Ivy, congratulations! Now, your decision appears fairly simple.
But don’t accept your offer right away. You should still take the time to evaluate your financial aid awards and consider other offers. If you’re not 100% certain this is the school for you, wait to hear from the other schools you applied to, whether Ivy League or not. Think about what you hope to gain from your college experience and do some more research. Make a pro/con list for the schools that accepted you. Talk to your parents about how you’ll pay for school (if you haven’t already).
If, after following these steps, you’re certain that your first-choice Ivy is the school for you, the next step is to formally accept their offer. Then, you’ll need to decline offers from other schools.
Follow a similar process if you’re accepted to multiple Ivies that you like. Research classes, professors, opportunities, activities, student life, and any other topic that’s important to you. If possible, reach out to current or former students and ask about their likes and dislikes. Even better, visit any schools you haven’t visited yet. Take a tour and spend time on campus, and you’ll likely know which university is the place for you.
What to Do If You’re Waitlisted
Here’s a trickier scenario: You’re waitlisted by your top choice college. You’re not exactly thrilled, but you aren’t out of the game yet either. You could still get accepted. So, what do you do next?
If you’re certain this school is the place for you—and you’re willing to wait out the waitlist—then it’s essential to accept your waitlist invitation ASAP. Accepting the invitation notifies the university that you want to stay in consideration for potential spots opening.
Write a LOCI
Another next step is writing a letter of continued interest (LOCI). If the school is your first choice, say so in your LOCI. Keep a positive tone and express your gratitude for being considered. Briefly give specific reasons you’re passionate about attending the school, along with reasons you believe you’d be successful there. If anything has changed since you applied, like raising your GPA, winning an award, or earning a new honor, mention it in your letter. Close the letter by reiterating that the school is your first choice and thanking them for their time and consideration.
Limit your LOCI to one page, and be sure not to imply that the admissions committee made a mistake in their decision. Similarly, avoid repeating information that was already included in your application.
Some schools have a submission form for LOCIs, while others have a place in the application portal to upload new information. If the school has neither, send your LOCI to the admissions office via email (attached as a PDF), mail, or fax. If you’re feeling unsure about how/where to send the letter, call the admissions office and ask.
There’s no guarantee that a LOCI will get you off the waitlist and into your dream school. Still, a well-written LOCI can certainly help your chances. It signals that if admitted, you will definitely accept your offer, which can make you a stronger candidate than a waitlisted student who doesn’t write a LOCI.
Consider Other Schools
Here’s another reason waitlist limbo is tricky: You most likely won’t receive your waitlist decision until after the college decision deadline. In some cases, you might receive the decision right before fall semester begins.
For this reason, you can’t gamble on being accepted. Put down a “just in case” deposit at your second-choice school. Even if you don’t make it off the waitlist, you’ll have a confirmed spot at another school you really like.
If you do get accepted by your first choice and decide to attend, this means you’ll lose your deposit. On the plus side, you’ll get to attend your dream Ivy League university, and that’s some pretty great news.
What to Do If You’re Rejected
Maybe you didn’t get the news you were hoping for on Ivy Day, and you received a rejection letter(s). Dealing with college rejection is hard. You might feel disappointed, sad, hopeless, or angry. However you feel, it’s normal and acceptable. But you can’t wallow forever—you need to take action.
If You’re Rejected from Your First Choice Ivy League School
Give yourself time to process your feelings. Talk to people you love, commiserate with other students who received rejection letters, relax, do activities you enjoy, and allow yourself a few days to simply feel whatever you’re feeling.
Then, remember that there are plenty of other collegiate fish in the sea. Ivy League schools are extremely selective. And this year, admissions were more competitive than ever! At Stanford, for example, only about 4% of applicants are admitted. That means 96% are rejected. You certainly aren’t alone, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a stellar student with a bright future.
Turn your attention to the schools that did accept you. Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. You were selected over many other qualified applicants, and that’s an honor. Start researching the schools that accepted you. Get excited about all the new possibilities. Read up on extracurricular activities, things to do on campus and in the surrounding area, and cool courses. Maybe a door or two closed, but look at the doors that have opened.
If you got into your second-choice Ivy and you’re sure you want to attend, accept the offer. If you’re still uncertain, wait until you hear back from every school. Then do your research, weigh your options, and take a few college tours. If touring in person isn’t an option, most schools have virtual tours too.
If You’re Rejected from All the Ivy League Schools
The same advice applies in this scenario. Rejection is disappointing and hard, but it’s definitely not the end of your hopes for the future. There are many excellent universities that aren’t in the Ivy League. Some of them are just as good, or even better. If you think not attending the Ivy League limits your future opportunities, you’re wrong. You don’t need an Ivy League university on your resume to succeed.
Again, do some in-depth research. Take college tours. Talk to current or former students about why they love the school(s). Find opportunities, classes, activities, and aspects of student life that excite you. Not getting into the Ivy League is far less meaningful than you think. Your future is still bright, and it’s just beginning.
You’re still going to love your college experience. You might love it so much that one day, you’ll look back and feel grateful that the Ivy League didn’t accept you. The rejection letters that hurt right now might lead you to better places, people, memories, and opportunities than you ever imagined.
After weighing your options, including tuition costs and financial aid awards, choose the college that’s right for you. Accept your offer and decline offers from other schools. You’ll know you’ve found “the one” if it’s a place where you’ll grow intellectually while also having fun, if you can picture yourself thriving on campus, if it’s in a location you love, and if you start to feel enthusiastic and optimistic about calling it home for the next four years. It doesn’t have to be an Ivy League school to propel you to the career and the life you want.
Final Thoughts: Ivy Day
On Ivy Day, all eight Ivy League school announce their admissions decisions at the exact same time. It’s an anxiously anticipated day for thousands of students worldwide. Some of these students finish Ivy Day feeling elated, while others feel deeply disappointed.
But no matter what happens on Ivy Day, there are steps you can take to ensure a fun, positive, and productive college experience. If you got into your first-choice Ivy League school, that’s amazing! If you didn’t, you still have other exciting opportunities, and that’s amazing too.
College will likely be one of the best times of your life. You’ll learn, grow, achieve, and take the first steps toward your future career. And guess what? You can make that happen wherever you go, even if it isn’t the Ivy League.
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