Do you need to start a club to get into Ivy League universities or Stanford?

By Maxine Seya

Do you need to start a club to get into Ivy League universities or Stanford?

– anonymous

No. This is a big misunderstanding that students have to start a club to get into the Ivy League. You could start 18 successful clubs and still not get into Yale.

Starting clubs in and of itself isn’t something top schools are specifically looking for. The Ivy League isn’t there to train professional club-starters.

Being the founder of a club just hints to the admissions officer that you have taken initiative in something or care about something outside of your personal life — traits they look for.

But once you understand the traits they’re looking for, you’ll realize that starting a club is not the only way to prove you have what it takes.

So what exactly does starting a club mean to an admissions officer?

Here’s what Justin, a former admissions director at Northwestern, told SocratesPost about leadership and what elite colleges are really looking for.

“We want people who are stewards of community, who are leaders. You don’t have to be a leader in the prototypical stereotypical sense, you don’t have to be the captain of the lacrosse team, you don’t have to be the president of Honor Society. Leadership has many different ways that it expresses itself, but the one coming out of leadership is impact.

Hi there.

No one spotlights the human stories of college admissions like we do.

But we're independent journalists who need support from readers like you.

Your subscription keeps us going -- completely ad-free.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.