Getting Into Harvard

Yes one of these. It is the $64 million question, the holy grail for any student who wants to go to college.

So what do I know about getting into Harvard? After all, I don’t go to Harvard or any fancy schmancy Ivy League school.

Well, it’s a thing called research. Something I’m good at being a Journalism major. For those of you hoping for a guide to how to get into Harvard for Christmas, your wish has come true.

Grades

Average GPA for those who got into Harvard – 4.0. So basically, if you want to get into Harvard, take as many AP/honors classes as possible and study hard for each and every one of them.

You may not have a much of life in high school, but getting into Harvard is worth it!

Test Scores

Test scores, test scores, test scores. I can’t stress this enough. Here were the average SAT scores of those who got admitted:

  • SAT Critical Reading: 690 / 790
  • SAT Math: 700 / 800
  • SAT Writing: 690 / 790

And ACT scores:

  • ACT Composite: 31 / 35
  • ACT English: 32 / 35
  • ACT Math: 31 / 35
  • ACT Writing: 8 / 10

Not exactly easy scores to get. My SAT/ACT scores weren’t exactly spectacular (2000/28, respectively). For some of you, you just naturally do well on these types of tests. Lucky you.

I obviously wasn’t one of them, so generally I just recommend that you take SAT/ACT classes and study hard. Choose the SAT if you like figuring out tests, choose the ACT if you prefer standardized tests. Or you could just take both.

 Extracurricular Activities

Yes between all the studying to get all your A’s in those AP classes and getting those super high SAT/ACT scores, you still need to find time for Extracurricular Activities. Get involved with clubs at school, volunteer work for the community, etc.

Essays

Yep those dreaded college essays! To get into Harvard you have to write essays that will rock Harvard’s socks off. The best way to do this is to take whatever topic they give you, and find ways to use it to write about something that you’re passionate about.

What makes college essays hard is that it’s very easy to write it as if you’re writing a resume. That’s not what colleges look for. They look for how you explain certain aspects of your life, rather than just a list of achievements. Be sure to talk about your strong character, energy, leadership and discipline – Harvard likes that.

Recommendation Letter

You will need two letters of recommendation from your teachers. Again, Harvard like seeing strong character, energy, leadership and discipline – make sure the letters of recommendation reflect that.

Interview

The interview is not required to get into Harvard, but it definitely helps. Seeing as I’ve never had to do an interview to get into college, I’m not exactly the best person to get advice from, so I found some tips from a Harvard graduate:

  • Ask questions (and make sure you prepare a few ahead of time)

  • Let the conversation flow naturally—don’t come in with an agenda of topics you want to discuss. On the other hand, you may want to…

  • … Use the opportunity to explain weak spots in your application

  • Dress well—but make sure you’re comfortable

  • Learn about the college ahead of time

  • Have an on-campus interview, if you’re given the option. Not only will the admissions officer you speak to be a pro—and so probably better at steering the conversation—but this is your shot to personally impress the person who’s in charge of letting you in. Always a good thing

  • Be enthusiastic about the college. Your interviewer loves this college, guaranteed. Make it clear you love it, too. (Which means finding something you sincerely love about the college before the interview, because your interviewer will know if you’re faking)

  • Share what you are passionate about… rather than guess what you think they want to hear. Most of these interviews are boring. Let your excitement shine through, and be the applicant they remember

  • Most important of all: Be prepared. This doesn’t mean memorizing a series of stock answers. This means being ready to answer questions about why you’ve made the choices that you have. Interviewers love students who can articulate the thought-process behind their decisions, students who know what they want and why they want it. So make sure you know why you chose to join club X over club Y, or ran for office A over office B, or are applying to colleges J, K, and L, but not M. If you sound like you know yourself, you’ll sound like someone the interviewer wants to know, too.

Private Schools

Yes I know they’re expensive. But let’s face it – if you go to a private school you’re in a much better position to get into Harvard. There are two reasons for this.

The first reason is the counselors. Private school college counselors tend to have many connections to college admissions offices. For instance:

Jon Reider, director of college counseling at San Francisco University High School, is a former senior associate admissions director at Stanford University. Mr. Reider says his former colleagues are no longer working at the university — he left seven years ago — but he still thinks having worked in an admissions office gives him an edge. “Because I’ve been on the other side of the desk, I have some idea how an application reads and what goes through an admissions officer’s mind when they read it,” he says. Last year, he says, Stanford admitted 11 of his students — more than any year since he took the high-school job.

If you go to a private school and have a college counselor with ties to Harvard, it definitely helps your chances.

The second reason is that chances are, if you’re going to a private school, you also have a lot of money. Harvard likes those who have a lot of money.

Hopefully this helps for those you who are ambitious enough to try for Harvard.

Good luck!

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Aaron Bandler

Aaron Bandler

Aaron Bandler is a sophomore at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo pursuing a Journalism major and an Economics minor. Aaron's main passion is politics. As a staunch conservative Republican, he advocates for conservatism every day of his life. Aaron is also an avid sports fan who passionately follows the San Francisco Giants and 49ers. Outside of sports and politics, Aaron enjoys playing guitar and listening to classic rock music like The Who and Led Zeppelin as well as hanging out with family and friends.
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