Dr. Leddo’s Blog

A Recipe for Getting into an Elite College

By Dr. John Leddo

Graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, owner of MyEdMaster, a tutoring company.

A Recipe for Getting into an Elite College

When I talk to parents for the first time, I typically ask them about the goals they have for their kids.  A typical response is “I would like my kid to go to an elite college like an Ivy League school.”  While this is an admirable goal, it is also one that is hard to achieve.  There are 8 Ivy League schools.  The freshmen class sizes range from about 1200 for Dartmouth to 3200 for Cornell (Harvard’s is about 1600).  There are over 42,000 high schools in the US (counting both public and private).  This means that even if you are the valedictorian (the top student) of your high school, you still have less than a 50% chance of attending an Ivy League college.  This may lead a student to ask, “What more can I do than being the best student in my school?”

In a previous blog, I wrote that in order to gain acceptance into an elite college, a student must stand out and achieve things that other students normally don’t achieve.  While true, this advice may be somewhat vague.  What does it mean “to stand out”?  Somethings are obvious.  A former student of mine (who studied SAT with me and got a perfect score) won a national science competition and $150,000 in scholarship money and is now attending Stanford (he got accepted to a number of Ivy League schools as well).  When I played chess on the Yale chess team, our number one player was ranked #2 in the entire country.

These types of accomplishments are not available to everyone.  There can be only one national science fair winner and only a few students can be in the top of the overall national chess rankings.  Because of this, I wanted to create a strategy that would be open to all students who want to get into top colleges.  As a result, I created two programs at MyEdMaster:  the AI-based educational software project and the research publication program.  In the first project, students work with me and other professionals to create AI and machine learning-based educational software.  In the research publication program, students do research projects with me and we publish our results in professional scientific journals.  Often the two programs are related as many of our publications relate to our successes with the educational software.

The results of these programs have been astounding.  Our research program has resulted in over 100 students successfully publishing scientific papers, some as many as five publications by the time they graduate high school.  These papers have been read by over 40,000 scientists from around the world.  The results of the educational technology project are even more impressive.  To date, students using our software have performed 80% higher than those using Khan Academy’s (the “name” in online educational software), 300% higher than those using Pearson Education’s electronic textbook (Pearson is the world’s largest educational publisher), and 37% higher than those taught by human teachers (I know of no other software product that’s ever attempted to compare itself to human teachers).  All of these results have been peer reviewed by the scientific community and published in scientific journals.  As a result, we’ve been hired by a local company to use our technology in the training programs it sells to the Federal government.  Our latest technology is a program that accepts a topic to learn about from a user, enters that topic in Google, copies the information from a website Google returns, locates the relevant information inside the website, reads it, learns it and then can answer questions about what it read, solve problems given to it by the user and even check and correct the step-by-step work of a user doing problems related to that topic.  In other words, the software does what a human would do if you gave him or her a topic to learn.  S/he would search the Internet, retrieve websites, read them and then be able to answer questions or solve problems based on what s/he learned.  To date, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft don’t have this type of technology, but our students created it!

It is these types of accomplishments that get students into elite schools.  In recent years, I’ve seen many of our students get into elite schools, often with substantial scholarships.  Based on this, I can offer the closest thing I can think of to a “recipe” for getting into an elite school.  I call this a recipe instead of a strategy because strategies often don’t work, but if you follow a recipe step-by-step, you get the result you intended to achieve.

Consider the following recent success stories:

One student studied SAT with me, scored in the 1500’s, worked on the technology project (she was one of the students who created the software that reads content from websites and learns from it), and had 5 publications with me.  She was accepted to Harvard this year.

Another student did the technology project and published four papers with me, and had a conference presentation.  He is now attending Yale.

Another student studied SAT with me, scored in the 1500’s, worked on the technology project and published a scientific paper with me.  He is now attending Harvard.

Another student studied SAT with me, scored in the 1500’s, worked on the technology project, and published a scientific paper with me.  He is now attending the University of Chicago (ranked number 6 in the US)

Another student studied SAT with me, scored in the 1500’s, worked on the technology project, published 4 papers with me and had a conference presentation.  He was accepted to the engineering program at Berkeley (ranked #3 after MIT and Stanford).

Another student studied SAT with me, scored in the 1500’s, worked on the technology project.  He is now studying at the University of Pennsylvania’s (Ivy League) Wharton School of Business (ranked number 1 in the US).

Another student worked on the technology project, published two papers and is now studying at Cornell University (Ivy League).

If we look at these students’ achievements, there is a pattern that emerges.  All had high GPAs.  All had SAT scores in at least the 1500s.  All worked on MyEdMaster’s technology project and all had scientific publications with me.  The ones with the most publications wound up at the higher ranked schools.  So if your child gets a GPA well above 4.0, gets an SAT score in the 1500’s, works on our technology project and publishes 4 or 5 scientific papers, that seems to be a recipe for getting into an elite college.  After working in education for over 30 years, I believe I finally have the recipe for getting kids into elite schools.  Let me be your child’s mentor and we can build a success story together.  Feel free to email me at john@myedmaster.com or call me at 571-242-6986.