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What does it take to get into an Ivy League? Admission is more competitive than ever before.




What does it take to get into an Ivy League? Admission is more competitive than ever before.

This past week, every Ivy League school released their Early Action and Early Decision results. As expected, the acceptance rates were crazy low. At Yale, for example, 800 students out of a pool of 7,288 were offered admission, while 31% of early applicants were deferred and 57% were rejected, according to the Yale Daily News

In Yale’s case, the 2021 Early Action application pool was the second largest in its history, after last year’s record-breaking number of 7,939 applicants when it adopted a test-optional policy due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Most students think that applying early is a surefire way to increase their chances of admission.

But it doesn’t necessarily equate to higher chances of admission. If a student has below average grades or test scores for their intended school, they shouldn’t fall for the trap that applying early will help negate a weaker profile. In fact, they will most likely stand out less in the early round, given that it tends to be a more qualified pool of applicants than the Regular Decision round. 

Highly qualified applicants are rejected by the thousands every year at top schools. If students with high GPAs and perfect test scores are being rejected, then what exactly are Ivy League schools looking for?

Photo Credit: Roberta Seiler

The answer is anything but straightforward. To get your foot in the door for top schools, competitive GPAs and test scores are the “foundation” of a strong application. But the less concrete, more qualitative aspects of an application – what an applicant has done outside of school – often mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. 

Extracurricular profiles are made up of qualitative elements including intellectual curiosity and exploration, authentic and demonstrated passions, community leadership, and how a student has made the most of the resources available to them. Has a student demonstrated an authentic passion for a subject or cause? Have they put time and energy into building something impactful out of their passions? Have they made a difference in their communities? These are the questions that admissions officers at top schools consider when filtering through thousands of qualified applicants. 

To give a better sense of what exactly a successful application looks like, here are three examples of students who have successfully worked with Command Education, an elite college consulting firm based in NYC and Miami, to achieve admission to their dream school. Names and details have been changed to protect student privacy.

Their emphasis on extracurricular development was how Command Education was able to have a 100% admit rate for all of its Harvard early applicants this year.

  1. Michelle came to Command Education as a sophomore at a top private school in Connecticut. She was an academically competitive student with a rigorous course load, but had a couple of B’s on her transcript. She also played on her school’s lacrosse team and had several volunteering experiences in her hometown. Her academic interests were in history and politics, and she wanted help developing and expanding these interests outside of school. With the guidance of her Command Education mentor, and after much consideration and personal experiences with the issue, Michelle decided to dedicate her focus to the Syrian refugee crisis. She developed a non-profit organization that raised money to support the dreams of refugees who had fled their home country, using the funds to support several refugee families. She continued developing her project through her junior and senior years and even produced a short film about the refugee issue over the summer before her senior year. She was ultimately admitted to her dream school, Yale University. 
  2. Arjun was an international student who began working with Command Education in his junior year of boarding school. He was an excellent student, at the top of his class, with a 4.0 GPA and a passion for business and finance. His dream schools were Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania or NYU Stern. With his mentor, he began by brainstorming ways to impact his community through his passion for finance. After some consideration, Arjun decided to launch a financial literacy project to educate young people on the importance of understanding how to handle money. His project ended up partnering with dozens of schools across the country, and helped educate hundreds of students on financial literacy. Academically, Arjun continued to gain top grades at his high school, and ultimately graduated as valedictorian. He received early admission to Wharton. 
  3. Maggie was a freshman at a competitive school in Los Angeles when she began working with Command Education. She loved to surf, was interested in marine biology, and had a passion for environmental awareness. With the guidance of her mentor, she started an organization dedicated to educating teens about climate change and environmental damage, and organized events in her community such as beach cleanups. She was ultimately able to expand her organization to five chapters nationwide, culminating in a promotional video featuring members of her organization encouraging teens worldwide to take action. Last year, she was admitted Early Decision to Brown University. 

Although they all have very different profiles, the students above all demonstrated compelling “qualitative” components on their applications. Most importantly, none of these students participated in activities they were not interested in. They all joined clubs they liked and started projects on topics they were passionate about, rather than focusing on activities they thought admissions officers would like. This is the key differentiating factor between successful and unsuccessful applications to top schools — Ivy League admissions officers have fine-tuned radars for falsified or inauthentic profiles. The best way to ensure that an application doesn’t get flagged is simple: students should dedicate their time and energy to the topics that actually interest them. It takes a lot of work to build a successful project and make a real impact on a community. To follow through with these endeavors, students need to actually be passionate and care about the work they are doing. Couple this with strong GPAs and test scores, and students can dramatically increase their chances of seeing that sought-after “Congratulations!” on their admissions decision. 

Learn more at Command Education.


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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