Ivy League allures CHS students, but doesn’t admit them

Liam Umbs and Rebecca Heath

Legend (and Naviance) has it that not one CHS student has ever gotten into Yale. Ever. That, however, did not stop senior Vaugh Battista of Tinton Falls from applying to the Ivy League school in Connecticut. The result? Battista was deferred, joining the large number of CHS students who have been denied acceptance to these prestigious and notoriously selective institutions. 

The Ivy League, which consists of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale, is an NCAA Division I sports conference that, by definition, has nothing to do with academic prestige. Many know these member schools, however, for their academic excellence, competitive natures and incredibly low admission rates. According to the Harvard College Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, only 2,009 of the 43,330 Harvard applicants were offered admissions in 2019, giving it a 4.6% acceptance rate, the lowest out of all the Ivy League schools. 

Though they may have low acceptance rates, the Ivy League schools offer many resources that students would not be able to find elsewhere. But aside from having top-notch professors, countless areas of study and excellent sports teams, one of the main factors that draws students to the Ivy League is their prestige. CHS Guidance Counselor Melanie Sambataro said that their name recognition is often a main factor in why students apply to prestigious schools.

“Obviously, it’s a name. Everybody knows about Harvard. Not everybody knows about TCNJ, for example,” Sambataro said. “You could go anywhere in the country and people would know that when you’re talking about Harvard it’s a great school. It’s just nice for people to recognize right away that you’re going somewhere that is prestigious.”

Unfortunately for CHS students, gaining admissions to Ivy League schools seems to be more difficult here than for other MCVSD schools, especially Biotechnology High School and High Technology High School. Though no one can pinpoint the exact reason why this is so, students and teachers all have come up with their own beliefs on why CHS seems to be less lucky in Ivy League admissions. 

Senior Grace Quakenbush of Wall, who was deferred from Princeton, said she believes that CHS’s small size and lack of AP classes are reasons why going to CHS could be detrimental in the admissions process.

“Obviously going to a vocational school looks good, but if I went to my home school then I would have been in AP classes, my class rank would be higher, and I might have had more opportunities solely because it’s a larger school,” Quakenbush said.

Yet for CHS Guidance Counselor Sandra Gidos, the lack of AP classes is not a contributing factor for the low Ivy League acceptance rates at CHS. 

“There’s a misconception, that because we only have two AP classes, that students are not getting into the Ivies because we only have two AP classes, and I will say that that is not true, we’ve had students who have gotten into the Ivies who didn’t even take one of our two AP classes,” Gidos said. 

Senior Neil Estrada of Middletown’s Early Decision acceptance to the School of Engineering at Cornell University marks the first acceptance to an Ivy League from CHS since 2017.  

“I definitely did not expect to get in,” Estrada said. “To anyone who’s thinking about applying to a school they think they’re not going to get into… I would say shoot for the stars, who knows, and make sure you have your safeties as well, but don’t shy away from a few schools that you might not otherwise have a shot at.”