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Harvard University 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 will be attending The Johns Hopkins University this fall!! . . . It was one of my top choices, and I cannot explain how ecstatic I am to join JHU!! Once again, thank you so much for your help. I do not think I could've done it without your guidance. I feel like I have found the perfect school for me." --U.R., Application Boot Camp student
Such exciting news - I found out I was accepted ED to Columbia yesterday!!! I just wanted to let you know and I also wanted to thank you for your help at Application Boot Camp. I believe that your guidance and support there really helped make my application complete, and helped me steer my essays and overall application in the right direction!
"I can't believe the quality of instruction and work I produced at Boot Camp. My brother will be there in 2 years due to my positive experiences." - Application Boot Camp student
"I wrote the best possible essays I could write at ABC. The staff helped me cut down my essays to make them fit the word limits while still keeping them interesting. The most beneficial element was constant feedback on my essays." - Application Boot Camp student

I wanted to let you know that I have been accepted by my first-choice school — the College of William & Mary! Thank you for your guidance in this process. I couldn’t be happier! – M.J., Application Boot Camp student

College of William & Mary, Class of 2023
Learning how admissions officers perceive and view my essays and applications has been so valuable.
Boot Camp 2014 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
Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you and the Top Tier Admissions Team! I'm still in between UPenn and Georgetown, but I will make sure to visit both. –S.I., Application Boot Camp student
I cannot imagine anyone being able to successfully complete a good, well-rounded application without help. ABC does does that: help. There is literally no time for procrastination at Boot Camp. Instead of stressing myself out waiting until the last minute to do my essays and the Common App 5, I literally HAD to just write. I loved that.
"R got accepted to Dartmouth! We are overjoyed. Thank you for all your guidance and prepping." – Application Boot Camp parent, Dartmouth Class of 2022
"M. is the BEST editor! Thanks for a great week! It is so great to have editing help and get most of my essay done." - E.W., Application Boot Camp student
"My number one choice was UVA and I was accepted regular admission!" --R.E., Boot Camp student
Boot Camp was the most incredible experience. It made me push myself into thinking about my future and prepared me to send in all my applications. I am so thankful that I got the help I needed at Boot Camp because it made my application process effortless once I had completed my essays. I think that the colleges were able to clearly see my goals and ambitions through the writing of my essays. I believe this helped me have a very successful application process. –P.K., Application Boot Camp student
Barnard Class of 2022
"This is to let you know that H. was accepted at Cornell!!  Cornell was her early decision school, and we learned that she got in this week. Thanks again to M., M., K., M., and the amazing Top Tier team! We very much appreciate all your help and support." – Application Boot Camp parent
"We are thrilled! Duke is absolutely fantastic and is the exact right fit for K. Application Boot Camp definitely helped her get into Duke during their most selective year in history, a year in which they turned away well over 2,000 Valedictorians. Thank you!" -Y.R., parent of ABC student accepted to 9 top-tier colleges
Y.R.
I am emailing you to let you both know that I have been accepted to the University of Miami and will be attending there in the fall! It's been a dream of mine for a long time and I couldn't be happier about it. I wanted to thank you again so much for your help and guidance. I really don't think I could have done this without you guys and I will be forever grateful. Your program is truly amazing and I am lucky I attended. Thank you again. –P.T., Application Boot Camp student
University of Miami Class of 2023
I would like to thank ABC for kickstarting my college app season! It felt fantastic to leave 4 intense days in August with several essays, edited with wonderful feedback. Although I wrote and revised a few more essays at home, Boot Camp got me in the right mindset to do work that many of my peers are still feverishly completing. Now that I have been admitted to MIT, this holiday season will be the most relaxed in years! Thanks again!! - E.B. - Application Boot Camp Student
"I truly believe ABC made a dramatic difference in T's application/outcomes (and will continue to do so as the season unfolds). We were all shocked to learn on Saturday that not only had Tulane accepted him, but were offering almost full tuition, unsolicited, in merit aid with a four year guarantee. Just wanted to say "thanks" and holy cow. You guys really enabled him to put his best foot forward. Thanks again for all you guys did to help him through a confusing, challenging process for teens!" --W.P., Application Boot Camp parent
"My daughter can't stop talking about all of the things she learned and how helpful the camp was. Thank you very much!" -O.P., Boot Camp parent
I just wanted to say thank you for all the help that I received during Boot Camp! I was able to do so much work and gain so much knowledge about the procedure of applying to college. I am so blessed to have had you as my best resources. I will definitely keep you posted when I start hearing from schools and thank you very much for all your help and feedback once again.” – L.L, Application Boot Camp student

Ready to Apply? Try one these Top Tier options!

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