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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:

"The environment in the Boot Camp meeting room was great and really encouraging. An intimidating process became much more user friendly and the senior mentors helped me overcome my writer's block." - Application Boot Camp student
“I believe the essay that you helped me craft was a major deciding factor in my admissions process and I am infinitely grateful. I believe Boot Camp also helped me to grow as a writer.” --S.W., Boot Camp student
“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'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
“The amazing support from your entire staff allowed me to write essays that I was extremely proud of. The advice along the way on how best to showcase my strengths and match that to an overall strategy of where and how to apply was invaluable!” --E.A., Boot Camp student
"It’s a great relief to have a specific game plan for college applications. There’s so much involved these days, I can’t imagine trying to figure it out on our own. For her to finish her common app and college specific essays with the help of such qualified and professional staff is a huge relief. She has friends that are jealous that she’s done!"-A.W., Boot Camp Parent
ABC helped me streamline my list of schools and my essays. Excellent program.
Boot Camp 2014 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.
"M. and M.--I’m happy (and proud) to relay the good news! P. got accepted to University of Virginia! We are over the moon! Thank you and your team for your support and patience throughout the process." --C.D., Application Boot Camp parent
ABC not only helped me get my stuff done early, but made sure I left with edited essays. While my friends will get their applicantions done late and have them edited by parents and high school English teachers, I left with essays proofread by PhDs, admissions officers and professional college counselors . . . which is awesome!
I feel SO prepared. There is no way I could have received this guidance anywhere else. ABC enabled me to be strategic about my plan going forward. Thank you!
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 the MIT Class of 2019, 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
"I was accepted into Brown early decision! I cannot thank you all enough for your guidance and support in my application process! Without question, you are the best in the business! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for everything!" - W.O., 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
"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. and M., I just found out that I have an unconditional offer from Oxford!" - T.Y., Application Boot Camp student
"To the entire staff of Application Boot Camp: A HUGE thank you for helping me navigate through the entire college process. The incredible support and encouragement from everyone there enabled me write insightful essays for the various colleges that I was applying to. I came back from Boot Camp every day feeling confident in myself and my ability to effectively communicate my ideas and thoughts into my essays and most of all, my entire application. I am so happy to say that I will be attending the University of Chicago this fall!!" --J.W., 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 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

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