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Harvard University Admissions

ivy league harvard admissions

Get Into Harvard

Harvard University ranks at #2 in US News and World Report rankings of National Universities. Founded in 1636, it is both the oldest and most competitive of the Ivy League schools, admitting just 4.5% of applicants for the Class of 2023. Today, approximately 6,700 undergraduate students attend classes on Harvard’s urban campus in Cambridge, MA.

 

Almost all Harvard undergraduates (97%) live in on-campus housing throughout their college careers. All first-year students live with other freshmen in shared suites on Harvard Yard, allowing them to form strong bonds with each other. At the end of freshman year, students are welcomed into one of twelve residential Houses, each of which offers students a close-knit community within the larger college. Houses present students with a variety of educational and recreational opportunities, ranging from seminars and film screenings to intramural sports teams.

 

Harvard offers students many other extracurricular opportunities, including over 450 student organizations and 125 community service programs through the Phillips Brooks House Association. Harvard also holds multiple arts festivals each year — including Cultural Rhythms, ARTSFirst, and Yardfest — while Harvard’s extensive library system houses the oldest collection in the United States and the largest private collection in the world. In addition, Harvard students have the opportunity to participate in or cheer on Harvard’s athletic teams, which compete in the NCAA Division I Ivy League.

 

Academically, Harvard offers students the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of subjects. Undergraduates at Harvard University can choose from more than 50 concentrations, as well as a range of secondary fields, many of which offer interdisciplinary study. (As of 2017, the most popular majors were economics, government, and computer science.) Undergraduate students at Harvard also have the ability to cross-register at most of Harvard’s 10 graduate schools and at MIT. For musicians, Harvard offers dual-degree programs with the New England Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music, allowing students to earn both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Music degree simultaneously.

 

One of the most exciting opportunities for a Harvard undergraduate is the ability to conduct high-impact research with world-renowned faculty. Over the past few years, students have received more than $7 million in research support from more than 60 organizations, ranging from academic departments to scientific research initiatives.

 

Applying to Harvard

 

Students can apply to Harvard in either the early or regular rounds. For students who choose to apply early, Harvard offers a Restrictive Early Action option (REA), with an application deadline of November 1. The regular application deadline is January 1.

 

REA is non-binding, meaning that admitted students do not have to attend Harvard. Students applying to Harvard REA may also apply to public or foreign schools in the early round. However, students applying REA are not allowed to apply to any other private schools under either Early Action or Early Decision programs. In other words, a student applying REA to Harvard could also apply early to Penn State (public) and St. Andrews (foreign), but he or she would not be able to apply Early Decision to Brown or Early Action to Georgetown.

 

Students can apply to Harvard using the Common Application, Universal Application, or Coalition Application. Harvard requires all applicants to complete the SAT or ACT (with or without writing). Students can self-report test scores on their applications, although admitted students will be required to submit official score reports. Harvard also recommends that students submit two SAT Subject Tests, except in cases where the cost of test-taking would be a financial hardship. (Based on our experience working with applicants for the past 20+ years, we know that most successful Harvard applicants submit at least four Subject Tests.) Harvard particularly recommends that international students consider submitting Subject Tests, as these students “are unlikely to be admitted on the basis of SAT or ACT alone.” (For more, see Harvard’s notes about Subject Tests here.)

Applicants will typically have the opportunity to carry out an in-person interview, usually after their application is submitted. In the U.S., students can generally hold interviews either on campus or with a regional Harvard representative in or near their community. International students may be able to carry out an interview with a local representative, although students’ candidacy will not be negatively affected if no interviews are available in their country. Applicants should check Harvard’s informational page on interviews to see if interviews are available in their area.

Class of 2023

Harvard received a record 43,330 applications for the Class of 2023, setting a new record for the fifth year in a row. 6,958 these applications were submitted in the early round, marking a 4% increase over last year’s REA applications. In fact, this early application cycle saw the highest number of applicants since Harvard reinstated early action admissions in 2011. 36,372 applicants applied during the regular round, which was — once again — an increase over previous years.

 

Overall, Harvard had a 4.5% admit rate, a record low for the college. The school accepted a significantly higher percentage of applicants (13.4%) in the early round than it did in the regular round (2.79%). Keep in mind, however, that both rounds were incredibly selective: Harvard admitted only 935 students in the early round (1.1% fewer students than were admitted the year before) and 1,015 students in the regular round. The REA admit rate was also the lowest since 2011.

 

Of these admitted students, 25.3% identified as Asian American, 12.2% as Latino, 14.3% as African American, and 1.8% as Native Americans and Native Hawaiians. The largest number (24.5%) of admitted students expressed an interest in the social sciences, while 18.4% were interested in biological sciences, 15.7% in the humanities, and 12.3% in engineering. 8.3% of successful applicants expressed an interest in computer science, 7.4% in the physical sciences, and 7.1% in math. Only 6.4% of admitted students were undecided about their expected college concentration. The lesson here for future applicants: as we’ve noted before, it’s a good idea to apply to Harvard (and to all other colleges) with a clear academic focus.

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:

“Once again, I am so impressed with your program. I am amazed at the sheer 
amount B. accomplished in four days! Equally as important, she feels
 really great about her essays. She loved working with each of you as well as 
A. (a great pairing for her!).  

I know how hard each of you worked this week; I hope you get to enjoy some
 well-deserved R&R!” –N.G., Application Boot Camp parent
"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
"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
"On behalf of S, I am pleased to share that she has been accepted to Dartmouth!  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
“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

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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