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What is the

impressiveness trap?

In order to impress future admissions officers, many ambitious teens push themselves to become the most impressive student in the school.


This is exhausting and often unhealthy, but even if you are successful, and become the most impressive student in your school, your application may still be boring.

because there are over 30,000 high schools, each with a most impressive student, and

a valedictorian


a debate team champion


and a top athlete or team captain.

In your effort to stand out to colleges, don't get stuck in the impressiveness trap.


Let me show you a better way.

There's a more effective way to prepare for college. 

and you don't have to sacrifice fun, friends, and sleep for it.


Here's how:


Take the Quiz

Answer 13 questions honestly to generate a college prep guide tailored to you.

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Access the Guide

Read the tailored guide to avoid common college prep mistakes and clarify your strategy. 


Use the Guide

Gain an advantage in future college admissions. 

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Your healthy college prep journey begins here.  Take the first step.

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Read what your peers experienced...

"I completely recommend the Ivy League Challenge, I only wish I would have done this sooner. My life is so much better after I learned these things about myself. There is no better way to live life than the way the Ivy League Challenge teaches."

Ata Alic
– UC Berkley Student

"You will NOT believe what I’m about to tell you! I got into both Harvard and Princeton! I’ve been feeling so dizzy the past two days..."

Xiao Yu
– Attended Harvard

"The Ivy League Challenge allowed me to have the foundation to succeed...Instead of constant pressure and insecurity–always feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, no matter how much I did–I learned to take my time back and developed a healthy and sustainable schedule for myself. "

Asfi Tias
– Cornell Student

Meet the students

From the parents:

"[My son] walked away with such a clear idea of how to figure out his core values...honestly, every session was fantastic. He really and truly loved it, and it changed him. It was phenomenal! Honestly, he always says to me, "Mom, this changed my life."

Dr. Robyn Blair
– Proud Parent 

"My daughter attended the program over three years ago, and looking back I see how that training helped her conquer her challenges. Because of your program, she knows what she wants in life and how to get it. She is living her life fully and I find I never have to worry about her success anymore, she is rocking life! Thank you."

Regina McGraph
– Proud Parent 

"Her (my daughter's) growth mindset is so palpable in her writings and I am so thankful to you that you have brought that out of her."

Janice Kim
– Proud Parent 
Meet the parents


Nice to meet you!

I'm Steve Gardner,  founder of the Ivy League Challenge. A Harvard alumnus myself, I use my over 15 years of experience in education, business, communication, and personal development to help teens develop the skills they need to thrive throughout high school and college, and create meaningful impact in their communities.

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Other resources

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Your best college prep resource. New episode every Monday!

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