High schoolers who get into every Ivy League college have surprisingly simple advice

“What, like it’s hard?”
“What, like it’s hard?”
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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Come spring every year, the same giddy headlines flash through the news: “Local high school senior is accepted by all eight Ivies.” “Genius student lands a spot at every one of the US’s most prestigious universities.”

As challenging as elite college admissions are these days, kids don’t actually have to be world-class athletes or high-ranking chess champions to make the grade. Often, they just have to be extraordinarily hard workers.

“I worked practically every day on college applications from September to December,” Vincent Viego a senior at Skaneateles High School in New York who was accepted this year to all eight Ivies as well as 14 other universities, said in an interview. Viego said he spent roughly 10 hours a week filling out and revising his applications, with most of that time devoted to his personal essays, which described his identity as a Cuban-American and his enthusiasm for bioengineering.

The same diligent work ethic is echoed by many other all-Ivy acceptees. Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, a senior at Elmont Memorial High School in New York, told WABC that she “struggled with numerous classes in the past, but … what allowed me to be successful ultimately in those classes, at the end, is my persistence and my tenacity.” Other high schoolers tell similar tales of perseverance, whether it’s self-taught or instilled by hard-working parents.

Dedication alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee success; high test scores, stellar leadership roles, and other achievements also show up in most of these students’ track records. But the common pattern suggests that regardless of how brilliant you are, it pays to put in the extra time.

(And a quirky personal story or two can’t hurt.)