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Harvard Admissions

ivy league harvard admissions

Get Into Harvard

Harvard University is ranked #2 in US News and World Report rankings of National Universities. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 6,700, its setting is urban (Cambridge, MA), and the campus size is 5,076 acres.

Harvard’s extensive library system houses the oldest collection in the United States and the largest private collection in the world.

Athletically, Harvard’s teams compete in the NCAA Division 1 Ivy League. At Harvard, on-campus residential housing is an integral part of student life. Freshmen live around the Harvard Yard at the center of campus, after which they are placed in one of 12 undergraduate houses for their remaining three years.

Undergraduates at Harvard University can choose from more than 45 concentrations as well as a range of secondary fields, many of which offer interdisciplinary study. The median class size is 12 and undergraduates have ability to cross-register at most of Harvard’s 10 graduate schools.

One of the most exciting opportunities for a Harvard undergraduate is the ability to conduct high-impact research with world-renowned faculty. In recent years, students have received more than $7 million in research support from more than 60 sources, including a variety of international centers, specialized science initiatives, and academic departmental resources.

Harvard offers a restrictive early action option for admissions, with the application deadline of November 1. This is non-binding, but the policy states that an applicant cannot apply to any other early plan (early action or early decision) except those schools that have an early non-binding plan with an early deadline for a scholarship or special academic program. If you apply to Harvard under their Early Action program, you may also apply at the same time to any public college/university or to foreign universities but you are restricted from applying to other private universities’ Early Action and Early Decision programs. So a student could apply restrictive early action to Harvard and rolling to Penn State, St. Andrews (Scotland) and University of Wisconsin, among other schools.

Harvard requires all applicants to complete the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT Test with Writing and will accept both the current and the redesigned SAT scores for the foreseeable future.  They also normally require two SAT Subject Tests. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is better to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. We tell our students to take Math II and not Math I. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful. You should submit scores from tests taken in the past three years. Again, Harvard may say they only require two Subject Tests, but top candidates submit many more taken throughout high school.

Domestic students will typically have the opportunity to have an in-person interview with a regional Harvard representative in or near their community. Harvard also offers a limited number of on-campus interviews from September through November. Arrangements for these meetings usually occur sometime after your application is submitted.

ivy league college early admissions class 2021

Harvard’s Class of 2021 SCEA accepted students represent only 14.5% of the 6,473 early applicants, marking the lowest early acceptance rate since Harvard reinstated their EA program in 2011. While the pool of students marks a 5% increase over last year, the acceptance rate actually fell .3%, with only 938 students receiving offers. These 938 early acceptance students represent a ‘significant nucleus of next year’s class’ according to William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Of these 6,473 early applicants, 8.7% of those admitted early are first-generation students or the first in their families to attend college.

For the Regular Decision round, Harvard College received 39,506 applications to its Class of 2021, setting a new record for the third year in a row and surpassing last year’s total by 450 applications (1.2 percent). 2,056 of these students were invited to join the Class of 2021. There were small application increases across several groups: 21.8 percent of applicants identified as Asian American, 12.6 percent as Latino, 10.5 percent as African American, and 2.3 percent as Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. The number of women applying to the College increased by 2.5 percent, comprising 49.9 percent of the total applicants.

The Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, for the second year in a row, has shown a marked increase in applicants. The humanities and social sciences have also shown an increase in applicants, in part due to a new concentration in Theater, Dance & Media.

What was Harvard Admissions looking for out of this group of 6,473 early applicants?

There are 4 main categories Harvard Admissions considers when reviewing applications outside of your grades and test scores; below are just a couple from each category. You can find the full list here.

  1. Growth and Potential
  • Where will you be in one, five, or 25 years? Will you contribute something to those around you?
  • What sort of human being are you now? What sort of human being will you be in the future?
  1. Interests and Activities
  • Do you care deeply about anything—intellectual? Extracurricular? Personal?
  • What is the quality of your activities? Do you appear to have a genuine commitment or leadership role?
  1. Character and Personality
  • Are you a late bloomer?
  • How open are you to new ideas and people?
  1. Contribution to the Harvard Community
  • Will you contribute something to Harvard and to your classmates?
  • Will you benefit from your Harvard experience?

Get Into Harvard – The Student Perspective

Inspire

Here at Top Tier Admissions, we’re fortunate to work with some amazing families and even more spectacular students. Their hard work, focus, determination and dedication to following our proposed roadmap and application strategy helped these students make the cut at Harvard and become a part of the Class of 2020. Like notable alums President Barack Obama, President John F. Kennedy and Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard’s Class of 2020 is poised to inspire and uniquely influence their peers and professors alike.

Here is some advice from a couple of our students most recently accepted to Harvard:

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Top Tier Admissions for their assistance in formulating and executing my application strategy! I learned that it is important for applicants to not be deterred from applying to top schools by fear or insecurity, as the most selective are often the least predictable, and to know that very well-crafted essays, which always take a seemingly unreasonable amount of time and revision to finish, can make a meaningful difference in the quality of an application.”

– J.A., Application Boot Camp 2015 (Harvard, Class of 2020)

“Don’t be deterred from reaching for your top schools. I was told by every counselor I met that it was ‘foolishness’ to apply to Harvard, and instead to Early Decision to a school that I didn’t like. By all means work your hardest, and then reach for the stars.”

– C.C., Application Boot Camp 2015 (Harvard, Class of 2020)

Top Tier Admissions Can Help:

“You and your entire team are awesome! You were invaluable in helping P get on the right path! Great news today! P was accepted at Yale, Penn, Villanova, Wesleyan, Williams, Tulane, and the University of Virginia. Thank you for all you do to help these kids achieve their dreams! She is over the moon and will choose in short order! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” --L.D., Application Boot Camp parent
“Thank you so much for your advice and help over the past couple of months. I am grateful that I could finish everything in such a short amount of time. My application would not be so polished without your editing and notes! I really appreciate all of your counsel.” --P.N., Application Boot Camp student
"Thank you for the amazing application bootcamp experience! I was accepted to Dartmouth!!! I couldn't have done it without you. Go big green!"– S.T., Boot Camp Student
“I just want to thank you guys so much for your help and guidance! I really couldn't have done it without you!” –Y.T., Application Boot Camp student
"M., your advice and guidance throughout this entire process has been essential, for which my family and I are very grateful." --D.C., Boot Camp student
“I got a lot done at Boot Camp and I came back very relieved, while all my friends were very stressed out trying to finish all their applications.” --F.N., Boot Camp student
"M. and M., your insight and advice about the application process is invaluable. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with you! K., thank you so much for helping me construct an application strategy and work through the common app. I greatly appreciate your straightforward advice." –E.K., Application Boot Camp Student
"ABC made writing college essays far less terrible than it otherwise would have been. The senior counselors really kept me on topic." - Application Boot Camp student
Boot Camp 2014 student
"J.'s in at his first choice school!  Thanks so much for all the help and support.  The admissions person said that his essay was among the first she read and it became the "bar" for all the others.  He is beyond thrilled!" - W.D., Application Boot Camp parent
“My wife just texted me that R’s essays are fantastic! Thank you for all the great advice.” –A.F., parent of Application Boot Camp Student
"The report I received right after I registered showed me where my grades and scores placed me amongst my peers for the colleges I wanted to target. I appreciated the specific examples on how to improve my chances to get in at my top choice." -A.D., Boot Camp student
"The individual attention I received and the extent of resources was amazing. The Top Tier Admissions team really made an effort to know my story and help me develop great college essays." -C. C., Boot Camp student
"It was truly an amazing experience that clarified most, if not all, of my doubts on college application." -S. G., Boot Camp student
"My number one choice was UVA and I was accepted regular admission!" --R.E., Boot Camp student
"My senior counselor mentor had magical editing skills! He taught me how to be a more descriptive and creative writer. This was a fantastic essay writing camp!" - Application Boot Camp student
"M., you changed my life in ways I had no idea when we met all those years ago when I was a scared sophomore at my big public high school.  You got me to expand my vision and think outside the box with my interests and, honestly, now that I'm wrapping up my PhD at Harvard, I have to say I still use some of what you taught me about presenting myself and standing out.  Tell your students I'm living proof that getting into Harvard for undergrad and graduate school IS possible." --P.L., Application Boot Camp student
"I was just accepted into Dartmouth! I have yet to thank you for all the help with my application and support from this summer, so thank you so much!"– K.R., Boot Camp Student
"Boot Camp gave my essays life! Thank you for your advice!" - Application Boot Camp student
"I GOT IN ED to Dartmouth! I am so grateful for all your support and the amazing ABC you run. I hope that other ABC students got good news as well! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!! And a HUGE thanks all the TTA staff who helped guide me with my essays! I couldn't have done this without you guys! GO BIG GREEN!!!" - Application Boot Camp student, Dartmouth Class of 2022
“I am amazed at how much S. got done this week AND he was even smiling when we left!” –P.N., Parent of Application Boot Camp Student

Ready to Apply? Try one these Top Tier options!

Want to work one-on-one with the best? Try our flexible Personal Boot Camp.

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Private college admissions consulting starting as early as 8th grade for those students who want ongoing, personalized, unlimited-time access.

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The original Application Boot Camp®! Helping students prepare the best possible applications for the last 12 years.

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