Here’s how top US boarding schools get you into the Ivy League

By The Edge Learning Center


Amid intense competition for places at Ivy League schools, there are certain boarding schools that still reliably send 10+ students every year to household names like Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Princeton. Wow! How do Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, and others do this?? Read on.


The aforementioned boarding schools are some of the most prestigious in the country, with teaching methods that align with Ivy League schools. For example, Phillips Exeter Academy pioneered the Harkness method, which eschews lectures and traditional classroom layouts in favor of student-driven, discussion-based learning around one table. Instead of receiving heavy-handed instructions, students are encouraged to discuss the concepts of the day with their peers and drive their learning.

Learning via methods like Harkness matters to the Ivy League – because that’s exactly how many of their undergraduate classes work. Students under this approach emerge with more confidence in the material, refine their communication and discussion skills, and evolve into proactive, independent learners that will excel amidst the academic freedom granted at the U.S. undergraduate level.

Cultivating and Building a Person 

Important development happens away from the classroom as well. Boarding school athletics and arts groups build collaboration and leadership skills within a tight-knit environment. Each of the dormitories’ traditions inspire loyalty from their students, with older members of the dorms becoming prefects to practice their leadership skills. Dorm members may even wear dorm-branded clothing out of a sense of pride. For the environmentally minded, many of these top schools have on-campus sustainability initiatives, whether it’s green roofs, community gardens, or even beehives to pollinate the campus surroundings and keep the flora happy and healthy.

We often advise families thinking about boarding schools to consider what it is that’s missing from their current school life before committing to applications. The answer could well be features like the ones described above, which arise from the unique environment of boarding schools and cannot be replicated elsewhere.

College Counseling 

All this preparation would count for nothing if the top U.S. universities don’t take notice. Enter the college counseling departments: stocked full of counselors, often with previous experience as university admission officers, these men and women bring their connections and prior knowledge with them, not only to help the students but also to maintain the established channels of communication that exist between prestigious universities and the equally prestigious boarding schools.

What is the impact of this? An admission officer is faced with two applicants – both with excellent grades, extracurricular passions, international-level awards, and recommendations – but one student goes to a top US boarding school while the other student does not. The admission officer will instinctively feel more confident about considering the top boarding school student over the relatively unknown quantity that the latter student represents. This is due to the stream of previous excellent applicants from this school and the resulting strong history between the two schools.

Getting into the Ivy League is harder than ever, so why turn down the unparalleled help and inside track afforded by a top US boarding school?

If you are still uncertain how to choose a good boarding school for your child, simply give us a ring or contact us today to book an initial meeting

About The Edge

Established in 2008, The Edge Learning Center has grown into a premier one-stop provider of educational services for Grade 7 through Grade 12, targeting students who intend to pursue overseas education. Our three departments – Academic Tutoring, Test Preparation, and Admissions Consulting – offer a broad range of educational services spanning from SAT and IB Test Prep to colleges and boarding schools application counseling. The Edge Learning Center operates in multiple regions including Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.