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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:

"I'm done with all of my college applications. It's August 19th! How many people can say they finished THAT early?! Mimi, you are the GREATEST motivator!" - C.C., Application Boot Camp student
"We wanted to reach out to you and send a heartfelt thanks for guiding us through the college admissions process this past year.  Your direction was incredibly helpful! R. was admitted to Tufts Early Decision!!!  He is grateful for every minute you and your team spent with him and acknowledges the significant competitive edge gained by your insight and experience." --Y.W., Application Boot Camp parent
"M. and M. really helped me develop my academic niche!" -T.Y., Boot Camp student
Dear Mimi, Michele, Kristen, Hannah, and the rest of the ABC team, Thank you so much for an incredible four days at Boot Camp. Thank you for sitting and brainstorming with me, for helping me come up with a realistic application plan, for reading my essays over and over again until I thought they were perfect, and, most of all, for helping me come out with five essays that I am proud of and I know will help me in the application process. Your help was amazing, and I don't know what I would have done without it. - E.C.
"Just wanted tell you that I received my acceptance letter to Dartmouth today!! Thank you so much for all of your help this summer - I greatly appreciate it and it obviously paid off! Can't wait to be a 19!" - R.C., Application Boot Camp student
"The senior counselors were so talented and Mimi and Michele were so accessible!" -ABC Student
"ABC made the application process clear and taught me to optimize every chance I have in presenting myself in the best light to colleges." - Application Boot Camp Student
“At the start of this week I was petrified at the thought of college essays and differentiating myself from high school seniors across the nation. Thank you so much for streamlining this process and fine tuning my essays to perfection. I would not be able to keep on track without you! Thanks again!!” --R.Q., Application Boot Camp student
"Dear M., M. and your wonderful team, we are very happy to let you know that O. was accepted at Georgetown!!!! His “dream university." Thank you very much for all your help. We really appreciate it very much! You can imagine how proud we feel!." --P.Y., Application Boot Camp parent
"You ran an amazing, inspiring, productive and invaluable program. Thanks." - C.W., Application Boot Camp parent
“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
"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
"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
"The quick feedback on essays and writing style was key!" - Application Boot Camp student
"Boot Camp was an incredibly effective use of my time and dramatically cut my stress levels during the application process." -R.O., Boot Camp student
"Boot Camp was rewarding because my essays are done and I have confidence in my college applications." -Y.P., Boot Camp student
"We are so pleased with the work our son completed at Boot Camp! He was encouraged every step of the way. I can't believe ABC has gotten even better since you worked with our older children!" -I.O., Boot Camp parent
"It feels so good to have so many essays done before senior year. It helps to get so many different perspective on my essays." - Application Boot Camp student
"P. continues to thrive at Brown. She loves her classes, professors, and friends as well as her internship, teaching assistant and research opportunities. She feels very fortunate to be there and strives to take advantage of all that Brown has to offer. We are fortunate to have found you!" --E.V., Application Boot Camp parent
"I am writing to thank everyone at ABC for all the help with my essays and the Common Application. I really benefited from these past 4 days in Boston and I would be happy to recommend ABC to anyone that asks." --R.L. 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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