How to Get into an Ivy League Using “The Hedgehog Concept”

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IvyZen, a bespoke college admissions consultancy, shares its secret strategies and Success Stories on a newly-designed site, chock full of free content.

For 11+ years, IvyZen has helped 300+ students gain admissions to the Ivy Leagues

"In one informative article about “The Hedgehog Concept,” IvyZen Executive Director, Mark Lee, takes a controversial stance denouncing the ubiquitous “well-balanced” approach..."

High-achieving students are always looking to improve their chances of getting into Ivy League colleges. While there are plenty of people to give them advice on the perfect college essay, the perfect test score, and the perfect extracurricular activities to gain admission to top colleges, few offer a comprehensive plan for how to present the most effective college application. On IvyZen’s revamped site, students and parents can learn about The Hedgehog Concept, which consists of crafting unique and compelling Themes to make one’s college application stand out from the rest.

In one informative article about “The Hedgehog Concept,” IvyZen Executive Director, Mark Lee, takes a controversial stance denouncing the ubiquitous “well-balanced” approach:

"In the hyper-competitive world of college admissions, being the Hedgehog is key. Unfortunately, many students attempt to out-fox the admissions committee with a quantity of impressive tricks: fairy tale-like essays, myriad small extracurricular activities, recommendations from famous people, and “life-changing” 10-day trips to exotic locales. But ultimately, the Hedgehogs are the ones who are admitted, with their singular, unwavering focus.

Acting as the Fox with the well-rounded approach is not an unusual strategy, and is in fact recommended by counselors, teachers, and parents of students applying to the top schools, e.g. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Columbia, UChicago. It has long been the conception that with a 4.0 GPA, a perfect SAT score, and appealing extracurricular activities, a student can prove himself a worthy candidate for admission. But recently, the Ivy Leagues have been rejecting up to 95% of candidates, most of whom are the Foxes of the world. Those who are admitted have proven themselves to be very interested in—and talented at—a single thing, much like the Hedgehog."

The rest of the article is a thorough and helpful guide for creating one’s own unique Theme. IvyZen walks through the main steps for readers starting with the four main areas used to create a Theme:

1.         Academics
2.         Extracurricular Activities- Leadership
3.         Extracurricular Activities- Scholarship
4.         Competitions/Achievements

Potential Ivy Leaguers can also find many unique, effective sample Themes on the site. Examples include political activism, encryption, big data and social entrepreneurship – big ideas that can help tie all the activities and accomplishments of high-achieving students into one compelling whole. Of special note are the Success Stories of IvyZen students who were accepted to the top US colleges, including MIT, Stanford, Princeton and Caltech.

About IvyZen
IvyZen provides leading-edge college admissions consulting services to the very brightest. IvyZen mentors focus solely on the top US colleges: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, UChicago and Columbia. For more than 11 years, IvyZen has been mentor to over 300 students, helping them gain acceptance to these most selective institutions.

For more information, please contact Mark Lee, Executive Director of IvyZen, at

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Mark Lee
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