How to Deal with Ivy Day: Dates, Deadlines, and Advice

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The Ivy League schools hold a unique place in American society – perhaps no other institutions of higher learning are as revered or idolized, even around the world. A pivotal moment in many high-achieving students’ lives is the one day a year – colloquially referred to as Ivy Day – on which all the Ivy League schools release their Regular Decision admissions decisions at around 5 PM EST.


Ivy Day can result in a wide range of emotions, from jubilance to frustration, worry, uncertainty, and sadness. Even if you do receive that coveted acceptance letter, you might still feel some anxiety about financing your education or deciding whether an Ivy truly is the place for you. Keep reading to learn about the history of Ivy Day and get advice on how to handle this potentially stressful day.


The History of Ivy Day


A group of eight schools renowned for their academic excellence, the Ivies include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. Typically held in late March or early April, Ivy Day refers to the day when all the schools in the Ivy League release their Regular Admissions decisions. 


However, the name might also stem from an annual celebration practiced at some Northeastern colleges. Each year, schools would place an ivy stone on a residential or administrative building to honor academic excellence. In the 1800s, this was known as planting the ivy.


What to Expect for Ivy Day 2021


For 2021, Ivy Day is set to take place on April 6. The date is later than the usual April 1, in part because the Ivies received a record number of applications this year. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic may also have led to delays in schools making admissions’ decisions. 


Because applications are up, students should expect that the acceptance rate will be lower than in previous years. In fact, Harvard received more than 57,000 applications this year, representing an increase of 42 percent over last year’s numbers. 


Naturally, the high number of applications will also lead to an increase in web traffic. The Ivies send admissions notifications at the same time, and students are likely to experience longer loading times and an increase in page crashes as they try to access their letters. 


What to Do If You’re Accepted, Waitlisted, or Rejected


Just because students have been waiting eagerly for Ivy Day doesn’t mean they’re always prepared for the reality of receiving their letters. Regardless of whether you were accepted, waitlisted, or rejected from a school, you might be wondering what happens now. Keep reading for some suggestions on how to handle the process and what to do next. 




Of course, being accepted by one or more schools is the best possible outcome on Ivy Day. However, that doesn’t mean students who received acceptance letters can rest easy. On the contrary, some students may feel pressure to attend an Ivy even if they feel it’s not the best possible fit. 


It’s important to choose a college that provides the best environment for you to grow academically and socially. If you don’t feel happy about attending an Ivy League school, you probably shouldn’t let its prestige sway your decision.


Even if you do want to attend an Ivy, getting in doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to afford tuition. In some cases, students turn down Ivies because of a lack of financial aid. The good news is that competitive applicants can often negotiate better aid packages. This is especially true for applicants who get into multiple Ivy League institutions. Luckily, we at CollegeVine have some tips on negotiating successfully


If you do want to attend an Ivy, and you receive an acceptance letter on Ivy Day, be sure to send in your deposit on time. Typically, deposits are due by May 1. However, for 2021 Harvard’s acceptance date is May 3. Check with your specific institution to confirm the date your acceptance is due. 

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Being waitlisted by your dream school might be the most frustrating outcome on Ivy Day. After all, if you’re rejected, you can move on and make plans to attend your second-choice school. However, waitlisted students sometimes feel like they’re living in limbo. 


If you wind up on the waitlist at your top-choice college, the first step is to accept the invitation. Doing this lets admissions officials know that you’re interested and keeps you in the running for a spot, should one open up. Then the waiting begins.


Students often want to know how they can better their chances of getting off the waitlist and receiving an admissions offer. Unfortunately, many competitive colleges admit only a handful of waitlisted students each application cycle — or even none at all.


While getting off the waitlist is a challenge, writing a letter of continued interest may help increase your odds. Experts recommend addressing the letter to their specific regional admissions officer rather than the admissions committee in general. Additionally, students may boost their chances by focusing on how they’ll contribute to the community rather than simply restating their grades and qualifications. For example, you could talk about how you contribute in high school and share the ways you’ll do the same in college.




Rejection is painful for everyone, and students who receive a ‘no’ on Ivy Day may feel particularly devastated because of the pressure they experience during the application process. It’s important to remember that Ivy League schools admit only a fraction of the students who apply. In other words, the vast majority of applicants are in the same boat you are. Remember that admissions decisions are very subjective and try to avoid letting the opinion of one admissions committee affect your self-esteem. 


Additionally, students who received a rejection letter should remember that they don’t have to attend an Ivy to achieve success in their chosen careers or to lead happy lives. Although students sometimes wonder if they should take a gap year and reapply, or transfer into an Ivy later, there’s no guarantee that these plans will lead to the desired outcome. Instead, students are usually better off going with their second-choice school. 


As you continue through the application process, it’s important to remember that college is about a lot more than the school name on your diploma. In fact, many students wind up having incredible experiences at schools that weren’t their first choice. Moreover, students often discover academic interests, passions, and friends they wouldn’t have found if they went to the school they initially intended. 


At CollegeVine, we’re committed to helping students navigate the admissions process and gain acceptance to their dream schools. Do you have more questions about Ivy League admissions or another topic? Check out our free Q&A forum for advice from admissions experts and peers. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals.

Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.

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