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On episode 150, Alexis Avila brings on repeat guest Jessica Yeager, CEO & founder of Impress the Ivies and founder of Dream College Summit. Jessica is a graduate of Harvard and MIT. As a senior in high school, she gained acceptance to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia. Her students have gotten into elite schools, like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.

On Today’s episode Jessica tells us her amazing journey through the college application process and how she got into SIX ivy league schools!  You will learn what it really takes to get into Harvard and other ivy league schools.

Did you know? Jessica got into Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, and MIT (rejected from Princeton)

What makes a Harvard student special? Their DRIVE

Want to get into Harvard? Pursue your passion to the max (i.e., if you like to write, publish your work

Jessica recommends: Showing interest in a school by visiting w their college rep and show in your essays that you did your research

Do you need a perfect score to get in to an Ivy? NO. Once you get a 33 ACT or 1450, then you have a chance to get into Harvard but the rest of your college application is what needs to stand out!

If Ivy League schools are not an option? Then pursue a school with excellent programs in the area you want to pursue

Jessica’s advice for teens? You are the reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. So hang out with DRIVEN friends.

For Prepped & Polished listeners only, you can access Jessica’s Ultimate Guide to the Commmon App!

For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #90 with Elizabeth Dankoski: How a Perfect SAT Score can Backfire on You

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.


Scott: Hey guys. This is Scott Johnston producer for the “Prepped and Polished” podcast. I just wanted to take a few minutes and wish all of you a healthy and happy new year and thank you for listening to the “Prepped and Polished” podcast last year, also wanted to let you guys know that you can vote for “Prepped and Polished” as part of a contest with “Boston” magazine. They’re looking for the best of Boston. All of the information is in the show notes. So if you would be willing to support “Prepped and Polished” in that contest, we would really appreciate it. Thanks so much. Now, on with the show.

Announcer: Welcome to the “Prepped and Polished” podcast, the podcast that empowers you to take control of your education featuring weekly interviews with influencers in the world of education as well as tutoring tips, lessons, and updates. And now here’s your host Alexis Avila.

Alexis: And welcome back to “Prepped and Polished” podcast. This is episode 150. This is your host Alexis Avila. And it’s been 150 episodes. All right. Be sure to join our community. You can find us on SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube. Just type Prepped and Polished and you’ll find us. Go to our site and sign up for our free email newsletter comes out monthly.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

I’m talking to Jessica Yeager, CEO and Founder of Impress the Ivies and founder of the Dream College Summit. Jessica is a graduate of Harvard and MIT, and she also got into another four Ivy League schools, pretty amazing to learn about that on this podcast today. As a senior in high school, she gained accepted to Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia and her students have gotten into elite schools like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon.

On today’s episode, Jessica talks to us about her amazing journey through the college and the application process and how she got into six Ivy League schools. And you’ll learn what it really takes to get into Harvard, what makes a Harvard student special and what it takes to get into other Ivy League schools.

So let’s get right to today’s guest. This is episode number 150 with Jessica Yeager. Jessica, thanks for coming back on the Prepped and Polished Podcast. How are you doing today?

Jessica: I’m doing great. How are you doing?

Alexis: I’m doing pretty well, pretty well. Can you remind our audience of your background and how you paved a career as a nationally known college coach?

Jessica: Absolutely. So I created Impress the Ivies to help high-achieving high school students get into their dream colleges. And this year I actually hosted the very first Dream College Summit, which, of course, you were on. It was just a really great event to hear about all things college applications.

The way I started this, I’ve been tutoring since I was in Middle School. So I always loved working one-on-one with students. And when I went to apply to colleges, I didn’t know a lot about what I was doing, and I ended up getting into some amazing colleges like Harvard and MIT and Stanford. And I ended up attending Harvard for environmental engineering, and then I went to MIT for my masters of engineering degree.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

And a few years ago, I was really looking at all the information out there for college admissions. And I felt like there’s a lot of uninformed people out there about what it takes to get into schools like Harvard and Stanford and MIT. And I wanted to share the information that I learned both getting into those schools and attending those schools.

Alexis: Definitely. When did you aspire to want to get into an Ivy League school? Were you groomed early to wanna get in?

Jessica: Not at all. It’s pretty funny actually. I remember the first time the thought even sort of entered my head. I was in eighth grade and my basketball coach and his daughter were talking and they were saying oh, Jessica’s…the daughter said, “Jessica’s gonna go to Harvard.” And I was like huh. And her dad was like, “No, she’s gonna go to MIT.” That idea had never even crossed my mind before that.

And when I was in high school, in fact, none of the people who graduated ahead of me while I was there had gone to Ivy League schools. So it wasn’t something that I had been thinking about and planning for. But I did things that really allowed me to put together an amazing application. And I did them because I wanted to do them. I did them because I loved doing them. And that really helped me stand out.

Alexis: Wow, that’s amazing, learn to love to do your college applications.

Jessica: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Alexis: So you got into six Ivy League schools. Is that correct?

Jessica: Yes, depends how you define Ivy but yeah.

Alexis: Okay. But which ones did you get into?

Jessica: So I got into Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, the official Ivy League and then I also got into Stanford and MIT, which most people would put right up there and I also got into Northwestern and Wash U in St. Louis.

Alexis: Okay. So which Ivy League schools rejected you?

Jessica: The one school that rejected me was Princeton. And it was interesting because I didn’t really have a good reason to apply to Princeton. The only reason I applied was because they had a really good financial aid program, which has only gotten better over the years. But they had these short answer questions instead of my personal statement that I spent months on. I had these four short answers that I probably did the day before I sent them in and lo and behold, I did not get in there. Yeah, that was my Princeton experience.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

Alexis: Okay. Now, tell us about some of the amazing classmates that you had at Harvard. What were their backgrounds? What did they accomplish? What did they have accomplished to get them where they got to Harvard?

Jessica: Right. I mean, I always tell people the biggest thing I got from Harvard, the most important reason I think to go there are the other students by far. I mean, my friends from Harvard are just doing incredible things. I have a friend who is a stand-up comedian and he’s been on Conan. He’s been on Last Comic Standing. He’s been on Craig Ferguson.

And it’s funny because he was on the lampoon at school but I mean, he was pretty shy and definitely not performing when we were in college. But now I see just how hard he works, how many hours he puts into this thing that he loves. And it’s really that drive that I found with the students that I went to college with. If they want something, they do everything they can to get there.

I have another friend who…she actually won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics. She was a foil fencer and she fenced for Harvard. She won in NCAAs, I wanna say two years. That was her. She had been doing that since she was in middle school. So that was a huge sort of x-factor she brought to her application and then continued on in at Harvard and beyond.

Alexis: That’s really important to hear that from you because that stereotype of just privileged Caucasian male rower or something is not necessarily a case. There’s something a little bit deeper than that. That’s a common trait…

Jessica: Absolutely.

Alexis: …of getting into these schools. So that’s amazing. So for a student who wants to get into an Ivy League school, what piece of advice do you have for him or her?

Jessica: Absolutely. I think the biggest thing you can do is really figure out what you love to do or what gets you really excited and do it to the max. So if you love writing, for example. Let’s say since you were in middle school, you’re always writing in your journal. When the teacher assigns a paper, you’re like, “Yes, not a test. I love that.” Go further with that. Write a novel. Self-publish it. It’s never been easier to self-publish a book, and it really shows that passion. It shows that commitment to doing something on an impactful level, so really going beyond the norm.

So, for example, what I did that was sort of beyond the norm, my school required community service to graduate. And most of the students just went to a local soup kitchen or a local nonprofit and volunteered their hours and they were done. That was their community service.

Alexis: They punched in and out.

Jessica: Yeah, punched in and out, exactly. And that’s fine to get by. That’s all that it was needed. But that didn’t really speak to me. I didn’t really feel inspired by that.

So I decided with a friend of mine that we wanted to do something a little more. So we created a resource fair for foster families and we partnered with a nonprofit that served foster families and worked with them to create this weekend-long resource fair and invited all of these different companies that sort of can serve and do foster families and invited foster families. And to be perfectly honest, in some ways, it wasn’t very successful.

We maybe had two foster families attend even though we did all of this marketing and all these things, but that doesn’t really matter because we…One, we learned a lot. We grow a lot. We were able to not only help the families that did come, but we were able to connect these different resources together so they could network and connect the families that they work with another resource. And it just really showed that we were able to sort of think outside the box, not just do what we’re told, not just do sort of the minimum but do something that really mattered to us and made a bigger impact.

Alexis: It’s amazing and again, it just kind of demonstrates your willingness to just kind of pursue a passion. It’s just a testament to the Harvard students. It’s what you were talking about, the ideal and really like appreciating the process. It’s not just necessarily the final result. Two people showed up, but you really didn’t make any excuses. You went ahead and you learn lessons good or bad.

Jessica: Right, absolutely.

Alexis: It’s amazing. So is there a difference in the college application approach for one who wants to get into say a Brown versus a Harvard.

Jessica: So I think the approach itself isn’t different but how you sort of execute it is. So it’s really important for these elite schools. They really, really care about their yield, which means all the students they accept they want as many as possible to say yes and come to that school. So if they don’t think that you are going to come there even if you get in, you might get wait-listed even if you are a stellar student. And that can obviously really disappointing and really disheartening because you think, “I applied to Brown, for example, and I have all these great things going for me and I got wait-listed.” But the way to sort of combat that is you want to show the school, the admissions committee that if you are accepted there, you’re gonna go. There’s lots of things you can do to do that.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

So sort of the easiest thing is to visit the campus or if you can’t visit the campus but they have admissions reps in your area, many of these schools do either group or just that school events regionally. So a lot of times, you can go to these events. Sign in or send them an e-mail, get on their Facebook page like anything you can do to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you’re interested in the school sort of outside the application is absolutely great.

And then the other thing that really goes into the application is when you are writing your supplemental essays or your sort of why U Penn or why Brown essays, you want to really show that you did your research and not just I skimmed the website for five minutes but you found specific programs that you are interested in, specific campus groups that you think you can contribute to, specific professors that you’re really interested in their research. And that will show them that okay, you are really interested in this school. You clearly have a plan if you were to get into this school. And wow, look at these things that you’re gonna bring to our campus if we accept you.

Alexis: Well, it’s awesome advice. Thank you. So remind our audience perfect SAT score. Everybody goes crazy about test prep getting the perfect score. How important is when applying to like a Harvard?

Jessica: Right. I get this all the time. I have students who are like, “Oh, I have a 34 or 35 like I can’t get into Harvard with that.” And that’s absolutely not true. I didn’t have a perfect score. The thing you need to remember is once you get to a 32, 33, you know, up in that realm, or for the SAT, once you’re getting to 1450, 1500, the change in the test score, so to bump that up a few points is going to be really, really hard. It’s gonna take a lot, a lot of hours. And you need to think about, well, can I spend that time doing something else that’s going to make me stand out? Because I’ll tell you, a 35 compared to a 33, that’s not gonna make you stand out. There’s always gonna be people who have a little bit better test scores, a little bit better grades than you. That’s not how they make these decisions.

Once you are sort of past that threshold where they believe that you can really excel at a place like Harvard, they’re looking for those unique students that are going to create this student body that they want, that are going to impact their community positively, and then are going to go on and impact the world positively.

Alexis: Amazing tips, wow. Now what are a few good schools to consider when Ivy League is not an option? Like, any that come to your mind personally?

Jessica: Absolutely. I mean there are tons of goods schools besides Ivy Leagues for sure. And honestly, I think it just really, really depends on the program you want to pursue. So the most important thing is to think about…There’s a few really important things…is to think about what you want to study and do after college. So for example, let’s say you really want to work at an oil company after college. Well, the truth is, Harvard might not be a good place for you because you want to go to a school that one, has programs that are specific to that industry, and two, where the companies in that industry recruit from. So you might be better off going to a school in Texas, for example because you’re gonna get a lot more recruitment there.
So it’s really key to look at what you want to do after college and see what makes sense from that.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

Another really important thing is financial aid. So let’s say you know you’re gonna go to med school or you’re gonna go to law school. Well you’re gonna have a lot of loans from med school and law school, right? So you can really look at the schools that you get the best financial aid packages from and think about, okay, if I go here and do really well, get amazing MCAT score, get amazing LCAT score, and then I got to Harvard Law or Harvard med, you know, what are my prospects gonna be? And they’re gonna be amazing is what they’re gonna be.

So, you know, it’s important to really factor in that financial aid as well. It can make a huge difference on the rest of your life, right?

Alexis: Absolutely. Perfect. Now, tell us about the Dream School Summit that you just finished. What is offered and how can we access it?

Jessica: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I interviewed 14 experts on all things college admissions, the essays, the holistic, college administration, studying, alumni interviews, everything. And so in addition to all of those video interviews and audio, we have a bunch of really generous discounts and bonuses from our speakers for this fall. And that can be accessed if you just go to

Alexis: Sweet. And how can we best get in touch with you?

Jessica: Absolutely. So you can get in touch with me by going to and my email’s on there. You can sign up for the newsletter and get some great freebies from me including the ultimate guide to the common app. Which I know it’s application season, so that can be really helpful. And that’s the best way.

Alexis: And any advice for any teens listening to us today?

Alexis: Yeah. I’m pretty sure this is my advice last time, but I really think it’s so important to recognize that, you know, as the saying goes, you are a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. So if you have friends who are really pushing themselves, who are driven. Like I was saying, my favorite thing from Harvard are really the people I met. If you are surrounding yourself with people who care about school, who want to get into their dream college, who want to do great things, it’s gonna help you so much in achieving what you want to achieve. Whereas, if you have negative people surrounding you, if you have people who don’t care about school, who just aren’t encouraging, it’s gonna be really hard for you to embrace what you wanna do and excel at school and do all those things that you absolutely can. So that’s just so important to recognize who you’re spending your time with and make sure that they’re people who encourage you and not people who are negative.

Alexis: Terrific. Well Jessica, thanks for coming back on the show, and I know we’ll see you again. Appreciate your time.

Jessica: Absolutely.

Alexis: And this wraps up our show today. This was Episode 150 with Jessica Yeager of Impress the Ivies and Dream College Summit. Episode 151 is coming soon, our next tutoring tips episode. And for another related conversation, make sure to go back to podcast Episode 90 with Elizabeth Dankoski. The title of that podcast is “How a Perfect SAT Score can Backfire on You.” And to access today’s Episode 150 as well as Episode 90 with Elizabeth Dankoski and all of our podcast episodes, head over to, or you can go to Thank you for joining us on the “Prepped and Polished” podcast. Now go out there and take control of your education.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to the “Prepped and Polished” podcast. For more information, check out Also, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for listening. Class dismissed.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.


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