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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:

"G is excited to go to her first choice, the University of Miami! She continues to say that Application Boot Camp was the best investment we ever made for her education." –R.J., Application Boot Camp parent
"I liked the process of having multiple people read my essays before finalizing a draft. This made me confident that my essays were clear and concise while also captivating to a diverse audience. Everyone was also patient and encouraging. Boot Camp took away so much stress coming into Senior Fall, allowing me to focus on my academics and earning my highest term average ever." –S.A., Application Boot Camp student
"I know first hand how you run your business.  Off the charts ethical! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Top Tier's Application Boot Camp."
-Parent of Application Boot Camp (Dartmouth) students
"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
"Clearly, Application Bootcamp and Top Tier took a lot of anxiety out of the whole situation. Our children know a number of kids who did not get into their top choice ED school, only to be devastated and stressed as they are without a plan for ED II and regular decision and have not worked on a range of essays for other schools. So while F & J’s EA-only strategy is not for everyone but made sense for them since they did not have a clear lead school when they were applying, being prepared made all the difference. The help Bootcamp provided in honing their voice and words into essays that reflect their intent was fantastic.In the end, it is all about having choices they are happy with, and I am happy to say they both have those now!"–F.A., parent of Application Boot Camp students
"E., I just wanted to let you know that I got into Barnard Early Decision! Thank you for everything you have done!!! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you did for me! Thank You!!" - H.L., Personal Boot Camp student
Barnard, Class of 2023
"I wanted to say thank you again for all your help! I got into UPenn, Cornell, Barnard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Tufts, University of Michigan, and Wake Forest, and am waiting to hear from Georgetown; I think I'm leaning towards UPenn. Thank  you so much for all your guidance; I don't think I could have done it without your help!" --I.R., Application Boot Camp student
"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.
"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
"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
"If there is any reference or feedback you ever want for a prospective client for Boot Camp, please send them my way. You and everyone handled the students so well - firmly, maturely, but with care and patience knowing this is a time of great pressure and anxiety for them. Having them finish with smiles, prepared for the next steps, and better yet - excited for the next chapter of their lives - is wonderful. I would tell anyone considering the program that for our children, they felt it was valuable, and for us, it delivers on what it promises - getting children ready, well-positioned, and less anxious for their application process." – S.P., parent of Application Boot Camp student
"I just wanted to send you a note of personal and heartfelt thanks for supporting B in Boot Camp. My wife was touched and very appreciative of your approach ('M. is a good soul.') and B left feeling challenged, but also confident, whole and supported. You probably figured out that she’s quite different from her brother! She talks about you warmly - you definitely made a fan and friend! Anyway, thanks for your personal, caring touch. She’s excited about what lies ahead." – J.T., parent of Application Boot Camp student
"I really truly cannot thank you enough for going the extra mile on the follow up call. B was mentally done and you somehow got her back on board! This mother of 3 is personally 'done' too!!! THANK YOU!" – F.K., parent of Application Boot Camp student
"I just wanted to let you know that I was accepted ED to Tulane!!  J, I want to thank you for all the time and effort you put in to working with me both in Boston as well as over the last few months.  M., I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go to Boot Camp. It was incredibly valuable. In fact, the head of college counseling at my high school said my 'Why Tulane' essay was the best she has ever seen!" – C.T., Application Boot Camp student
Tulane Class of 2023
"We are so happy to report that R was just accepted ED to Williams College!! Thank you so much for everything that you did to help her over the past year! She is thrilled!!" –T.S. & F.S., parents of Application Boot Camp student
Williams Class of 2023
"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
"Haverford's comment on 'awesome application and ...EASY to advocate for you' is due in no small part to you and the Top Tier BOOT CAMP and consulting. Yes, P did the work, but you guided us in the activities that she should spend her time on, and eliminate non 'core' activities that added little value as she became an upperclassman.She has punched above her weight, and because of K. and Top Tier she is on a path for a wonderful academic career.After we recover from the shock and celebrate, get ready for our next child to be a part of the Top Tier family!" – Parent of Private Counseling/Application Boot Camp student

"We want to let you know that S was accepted into Brown. We are thrilled for him and grateful for all your help and support! He also got into UT Austin!" – W.L., parent of Application Boot Camp student

Brown Class of 2023

"K applied ED to Franklin & Marshall and was admitted thanks to your help. They told his high school dean that they were very impressed by the quality of his application. Thanks for your help and all you've done for our family. P continues to thrive at Haverford as a junior." – A.K., parent of Application Boot Camp student(s)

"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
"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
"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
"R got accepted to Dartmouth! We are overjoyed. Thank you for all your guidance and prepping." – Application Boot Camp parent, Dartmouth Class of 2022
"P was accepted to Stanford (REA) last Friday! She attended ABC this summer as you know and couldn’t have done it without your team. Thank you so much for all your help. I have already referred my brother who has a 10th grader. Thanks again!" – Application Boot Camp parent, Stanford Class of 2022
"On behalf of S, I am pleased to share that she has been accepted to Dartmouth’s class of 2022!  THANK YOU, for all you and your colleagues at Top Tier did to assist S with this accomplishment. Your guidance and counsel is truly invaluable. S is extremely happy and very excited about her future at Dartmouth College! She is both honored and humbled. Top Tier played a big part in her success!" – Application Boot Camp parent, Dartmouth Class of 2022
“We would like to personally thank you for your help in preparing P. and S. in the college admissions process. Boot Camp provided invaluable guidance. Those four days were a very productive and extremely worthwhile time. We are thrilled they are starting senior year stress-free in terms of the college application process. Finally, thank you a ton for helping them both from the very beginning and we feel extremely fortunate to have worked with you.” –A.R., Parents of two Application Boot Camp Students
“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
“What a duo you are! Thanks again for your support, patience, and understanding this past week. C. is confident and rejuvenated but realistic. He will consider all that you have said when reaching his strategic decisions.” –T.A., Parent of Application Boot Camp Student
“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
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your help before and during Bootcamp. The experience was amazing and I learned so much, while also getting so much done.” –A.I., Application Boot Camp Student

Ready to Apply? Try one these Top Tier options!

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