Admission to Harvard - the most famous Ivy League school, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, created in 1636 - is a complex process. The legal way to enter Harvard is similar to the traditional way to enter all other prestigious US universities. What should be done? Get high scores at school, have excellent knowledge of English, engage in active social, sports or creative activities, write a strong resume and submit documents on time. Simply? SMAPSE experts don’t think so.
Harvard is the most selective university in the United States, and perhaps the world: the admission rate is only 4.6%. It is widely believed that the way to Harvard is open to students from wealthy families who for decades donated large sums to the university for the construction of sports facilities and libraries. And if you do not belong to this privileged group, but are willing to pay? Are there any sidings, "side" detours for those who are willing to "donate" funds to specific people? Is there corruption in US universities (spoiler: alas, exists), and for which parents are willing to pay from 5 million $?
What happened at Harvard?
As shown by the results of a recent FBI investigation, there are “sidings” for admission to elite US higher schools. The country was shocked by Operation Varsity Blues, an overgrown college scandal that is being considered by the Boston federal court. It turned out that mega-rich parents and Hollywood celebrities paid a California college consultant for falsifying resumes and test results so that their children were accepted into top universities. This fraud story did not affect Harvard, but another incident occurred there. Harvard fencing trainer Peter Brand facilitated the entry of two young people, giving them the necessary recommendations as outstanding athletes - at the same time, the father of these students buys the coach’s house at an obviously high price.
According to director of athletics Robert L. Skalis, in connection with the scandals upon admission, Harvard has introduced a new policy requiring coaches to provide evidence of candidates' athletic abilities to prevent fraud. Harvard coaches have historically provided forms for evaluating potential student athletes to Harvard admissions. Now they evaluate the athletic abilities of the athlete, provide information to a commission of 40 people who carefully consider each candidate. “Harvard Athletics is committed to maintaining the integrity of our athletics program,” said the sports director after Brand’s dismissal, but Harvard’s reputation has already been noticeably damaged.
Even after the Varsity Blues scandal, the legalized option to enter prestigious US higher schools “for money” will not go anywhere: selective schools have for years been giving priority to donors, athletes and heirs to large fortunes, turning Ivy League universities into unattainable closed clubs for people with millions of bank accounts. And although the lawsuits recognized the admission process to Harvard as not ideal, but consistent with the constitution, American society brought to the top the discussion of social discrimination when entering the country's best universities. How this will affect the real state of affairs will show reception statistics in subsequent years.
Lawful admission to Harvard: official information, life hacks and student experience
In short, the recipe for admission to Harvard is simple: you have to be the best of the best. Harvard undergraduate studies for about 6,700 students annually: they come from more than eighty countries that are attracted by historical excellence, exceptional resources and the experience of university professors. The average SAT among candidates for admission to Harvard is 1460-1580; ACT - 33-35. 94% of successful candidates entered the top 10% of graduates of their high school, the average mark of certificates is 4.18. The annual tuition fee is 47,774 $ - this is sometimes cheaper than other Ivy League universities, and in addition, the university provides extensive financial assistance: 160 million $, 60% of undergraduate students.
Harvard is looking for young people who have become the best of the best in a particular field (or who have the potential to become one). They are less interested in wagons - Harvard is looking for future professionals. The list of famous graduates allows you to understand who the university is looking for: a new generation of politicians, writers, award-winning, scientists, intellectuals, actors, musicians, technical geniuses whose inventions are changing the world.
What is the application process? Harvard offers students to fill out a standard online form, make a registration fee, provide a list of documents:
- A transcript with few or no high school marks.
- A high school report to be completed by a school counselor or other official. IB or A-level students submit predicted grades based on current work and the results of any internal exams.
- ACT or SAT results.
- TOEFL is not required, but can be useful information about knowing the English language, so be sure to submit a certificate if English is not your native language.
- Additional materials: musical recordings, works of art or individual samples of academic work. These materials are optional.
- The Activities section provides an opportunity to talk about who you are and what you do outside the classroom. You will have the opportunity to list up to 10 classes in which you have excelled.
Harvard University accepts an additional essay - you yourself determine the topic of the essay or choose one of the following:
- Unusual circumstances of life
- Travel or life experience in other countries
- What would you like your future college neighbor to know about you
- Intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, article, poetry or research topic in the field of technology, mathematics, science or other research methods) that was of the greatest importance
- How do you plan to use higher education
- List of books you read in the last 12 months
- Harvard's mission is to educate future citizens, community leaders. What would you do to contribute to the life of classmates to advance this mission?
Essay Writing Tips
If you are going to Harvard to study the humanities (journalism, creative writing or English), then list extra-curricular activities that testify to your writing skills: participating in a school newspaper, and Creative Writing lessons. If colleges see that you are interested in learning about writing and still receive a poorly written essay, they will be confused - and may wonder if you have defined your strengths well.
If your attention is focused on subjects for which creative work is not so important - natural sciences or mathematics - then the selection committee will judge the essay less strictly. But it will be more reliable to present a well-written, carefully thought-out work. If you know that writing is not your superpower, ask teachers, counselors, friends and family members to read the text and help with advice.
In the event of an ambiguous decision, an impressive essay will help change the mindset of the commission.
Some more tips for Harvard applicants
When planning to join the world's strongest academic community, consider the following:
- Harvard receives 40,000 applications annually and refuses more than 38,000 people. Submit an application if you are firmly convinced that only this college is suitable for the realization of your goals. Reflect in the essay why Harvard suits you, why you fit it. In the United States there are many academically strong higher education institutions that will allow you to get an excellent education and acquire social connections, and applying to Harvard without an obvious chance of success, applicants only fan the myth of the impregnability of this university. Think about whether you want to be one of them.
- The college does not take into account the "interest shown", therefore, the selection committee will not count the fact of visiting the campus, etc.
- Make sure to devote enough time and effort to an additional essay, answers to short questions.
List of short questions:
- Briefly describe extracurricular activities or work experience (50-150 words)
- List additional intellectual activities not previously mentioned: independent projects, experience of studying outside the school, online courses, summer academic, research programs (150 words).