Get Smart, then
Friday, June 20, 2008
This was projected to be one of the hardest years ever to
gain admission to Ivy League schools, thanks to a large class
of 2008 and changes in admissions policies.
Tell that to the handful of North Jersey students who beat
the odds by getting into not just one Ivy League school but
two, three or even five.
Paul Robalino was the first graduate in recent memory at
New Milford High School to be accepted at more than one
He will attend Yale, having given thumbs down to Harvard
The son of Ecuadorean immigrants, Robalino is
valedictorian, president of the French Honor Society, editor
of the school newspaper and active in peer leadership
"I was just hugging my mom for so long. I couldn't believe
it," Robalino said about finding out he got into Yale.
Steven Sloane, valedictorian at Northern Valley Regional's
Old Tappan campus, chose Princeton over Harvard, Brown, Yale
and the University of Pennsylvania.
Sloane was captain of the soccer and lacrosse teams this
year, worked with handicapped children and served as the
president of the Technology Students' Association.
"I was far from confident about getting in," Sloane said of
Princeton. "You heard that all the rules were changed, and you
had to make sure you had really solid safeties, because you
really could end up with nothing."
But even for the overachievers, the odds were tougher.
First, a population bubble made for a large graduating
Changes in the admission policy at Harvard and Princeton
also made things more difficult, said Robert Shaw, owner of
IvySuccess, a consulting firm that helps kids apply to Ivy
Both schools cut their early admissions program, which Shaw
said put more stress on the regular admissions pool.
"Kids who would have been taken off the market in the early
admissions process, those kids are competing in the regular
pool," Shaw said. "If they are qualified enough for Harvard or
Princeton, it's just as likely that they're qualified for the
In North Jersey, students with perfect grades, SAT scores
and extracurricular resumes abound. Guidance counselors often
don't know why some talented students get into multiple Ivies,
while others get into none.
"People believe there is a formula, and if you do A, B and
C, you'll get into Brown, Harvard and Yale," said Margaret
Loonam, Ridgewood High School's assistant principal for
guidance and instruction. "I have been at this 15 years, and I
have to tell you I can't make much rhyme or reason out of
Counselors say that college admissions officers tell them
they are trying to admit a wide range of students. Depending
on the applicant pool in a particular year, a tuba player
could round out an incoming class one year, while North Dakota
residents could be the most sought-after group the following
"They're looking to build a community," said Daniel Jaye,
principal of Bergen County Academies, where 13 students were
admitted to multiple Ivies. "When our children apply to
college, we just hope they fit."
School officials also pointed out that admission to
multiple Ivy League schools is not the ultimate measure of
Some students got into schools through early decision
programs and withdrew applications to other places. Other
colleges, including Massachussetts Institute of Technology and
Stanford University, rival the Ivies in prestige.
Most Ivy League universities would not comment on the
multiple admissions. Gila Reinstein, associate director of the
Office of Public Affairs at Yale, said that the answer was
"These are extraordinarily talented, capable, interesting
young people," Reinstein said.
The notion of what he has achieved is still sinking in for
"You always hear these stories about brilliant people
getting in, who are inventors or started their own company,"
he said. "Being around all these accomplished people, these
future leaders ... that's sort of intimidating to