How to Get Into Harvard: Requirements, Acceptance Rate, and Tips (2023)

Harvard is the oldest college in the United States and is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Named after the scholar John Harvard, the college is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has produced many notable alumni, including Presidents, Academy Award-winning actors, and Fortune 500 CEOs. If you’re wondering how to get into Harvard, this is the article for you.

In it, we break down everything you need to know about how to get accepted into Harvard University. You will learn about the Harvard requirements for acceptance, acceptance rate, total enrollment, and you’ll get tips on how to apply and make a great first impression on the admissions office during the admissions process.

How to Get Into Harvard: Requirements, Acceptance Rate, and Tips (1)

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All About Harvard Admissions

Students who seek to attend Harvard someday must have a solid foundation of academic and extracurricular achievements made throughout their time in high school. They must also have a good understanding of the school they seek to attend and the major they wish to study. The sections below help you understand what to expect when applying to Harvard, including your chances of acceptance.

Harvard Acceptance Rate

The admissions rate of Harvard University is very low in comparison to every other school in North America. According to admissions statistics found on Harvard’s website, only 2,320 students gained admission out of an applicant pool of 57,786. Going by this, Harvard’s acceptance rate can be calculated to be around four percent. Make sure you keep this in mind during the admissions process.

Harvard GPA

Harvard acknowledges that different factors such as student body size, grading policies, and academic programs cause variance in GPA calculations among schools. For this reason, the school does not have a rigid grade requirement or cutoff score. Applicants, however, must have undergone the most rigorous high school curriculum available to them.

Applicants must rank among the top 10th to 15th percentile of their class as Harvard constantly seeks students with high-level achievements. Not only will you be competing with students from the US, but you’ll also be competing with international students. The school doesn’t have a score cutoff but know that you need to be amongst the best of the best if you want a real chance of getting in.

Harvard Total Enrollment

According to the latest information on the website of Harvard University, the school currently has a total of 7,103 students admitted to its facility. The school website states that approximately 80 percent of its students are involved in the university’s sports teams. There is a fair amount of student body diversity, and a quick look at the school’s admission statistics reveals that only 45 percent of the school’s population are white students.

Harvard Requirements

  • School Report. If you’re still a student, your school transcript may contain only a few or even no senior year courses. In this case, a midyear school report is required so your performance can be reviewed. Upon completion, your school counselor must send your transcript, if you’re offered admission, before July 1 of the current school year. If you are already done with high school before application, you only need to send a final school report without a midyear report.
  • Recommendation Letters. You will need a recommendation from teachers. Two teachers who are very familiar with you must complete the teacher evaluation forms. You can submit an additional letter of recommendation if you wish after this, but it must be done after submitting your application. You will find a personalized link for the teachers recommending you in your application confirmation email.
  • Essays. Harvard University requires candidates to send a personal essay. Put in extra effort to ensure that your essay is unique so you can be a competitive applicant. This is a great place to talk about your passions, mention any leadership position you may have occupied, such as team captain of a club, and explain how your life experience has led you to seek a degree at Harvard.
  • Standardized Test Scores. If you want to submit standardized tests, both the SAT and ACT are okay and can be submitted with or without the writing component. In recent years, standardized subject tests are no longer required to apply to Harvard but if you do, only tests taken within the last five years are accepted.
  • Application Fee. Every Harvard University candidate is expected to pay an application fee of $75. Students can, however, request a waiver of this fee in consideration of their financial situation.
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Is It Hard to Get Into Harvard?

Yes, Harvard University is one of the most selective schools in the country and it is hard to get into. With an admission rate of around four percent, becoming a Harvard University student is no piece of cake. The higher your class rank, the better your chances of admission.

The undergraduate admission process at Harvard is tough, using a holistic approach when assessing potential students. Personal character, academic potential, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation are thoroughly scrutinized by the admissions officers.

How to Prepare for a Harvard Interview

Interviews at Harvard are very important. If you want to get admitted as a student, preparation must not be taken lightly. First, you must look professional. Ensure you’re dressed well, as appearing shabby can leave a bad impression. Know what to say when asked a question. This is where practice comes in. Expect regular questions such as “What can you tell me about yourself?” and prepare a great answer that shows you off in a positive light.

Keep in mind that making a great impression doesn’t mean bragging. Being genuine and down-to-earth will go a long way. As long as you allow your star personality to shine you’re good. Prepare some good questions to ask your interviewer, they will like this. It can be nerve-wracking in an interview but try to be as comfortable as possible. Try practicing some common college interview questions with your parents or friends. Lastly, be respectful and thankful to your interviewer.

Harvard Interview Questions

  • Why are you interested in attending Harvard?
  • What can you tell me about yourself?
  • What are your academic goals?
  • What do you do outside of the classroom?
  • How did you decide on your area of study?

10 Tips for Getting Into Harvard

Getting into Harvard requires proper planning and putting concerted efforts in different areas. You should also know what to do and what not to do in certain situations to bolster your chances of getting accepted. We have listed and briefly explained 10 application tips below that can help you increase your chances of admission at Harvard.

1. Understand the Requirements and Non-Requirements

You should first know what is and what isn’t required during your application process. Harvard provides ample information on its admission requirements to prospective students on its website. Browsing through each category in this section of the website can help you get a better understanding of the documents you need to put together while applying for admission.

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You should also understand that some practices which are common when applying to other schools may not actually count for Harvard. An example is showing “demonstrated interest” in the institution. It would be better to double your efforts on what matters and cut back on or totally avoid what will not affect your admission application in any positive way.

2. Prepare for Interviews

Harvard University involves more than 10,000 alumni in the admission process to help sift through the many applicants and find the most qualified candidates. Due to the pandemic, the majority of these conversations will be held online. You must prepare well for this interview as it plays a critical role in the final admissions decision process. Preparing your own questions will show that you hold genuine interest and that you’re the type of student that Harvard needs.

3. Get Great Letters of Recommendation

Harvard applicants must get two letters of recommendation, one from a high school counselor and one from a teacher. You may not have much choice when it comes to the counselor’s letter, as you’ll be assigned one automatically, but you can choose which teacher writes your recommendation letter. Pick a teacher that you’ve enjoyed most, with whom you have a good personal relationship, and in whose classes you have had your best grades.

4. Stand Out with Your Supplemental Essays

The Harvard supplemental essay requirement is separate from your standard application. The additional essays are designed to make the admission staff understand you better and what you seek to bring to Harvard. Do some research on how to write a strong personal statement to help you get started.

You can work with a college admissions counselor if you need some help in perfecting your Harvard supplemental essays and always check every essay for grammar and punctuation errors. If you’ve had any unusual circumstances that others would find interesting, this is the time to write about them.

5. Get Good Grades

Your academic achievement is very important. Harvard University only accepts the best candidates. Grades and test scores may not be the only factors considered during the admissions process, but you can be sure that they are one of the most important factors. Your grades provide an insight into what the school can expect from you academically. Good grades in high school can indicate that you’ll have a good college GPA and increase your post-grad prospects.

6. Apply Early

Prospective Harvard candidates can apply under a Restrictive Early Action program, meaning eager students can choose their college options ahead of Regular Decision applicants. Early birds are expected to fill out and submit their applications by November 1. Early application can show you if your admissions chances are high and let you know if this is the school you should pursue.

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7. Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination won’t do you any good. To put yourself in a great position to be admitted, you should start your application process as soon as you can. This will give you ample time to request all necessary documents from your school. You will also be able to find people to help you accurately fill out your forms and also help with your recommendation letters.

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8. Manage Your Online Presence

Many of the officers involved in the admission process check students’ social media presence to learn more about them. They may also be on the lookout for red flags that might make them decline your application. Ensure that your Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other social media accounts are devoid of content that you wouldn’t want any potential admissions officer to see. Also, search for your name on Google to see what turns up and make sure it’s clean.

9. Have Impressive Extracurricular Activities

Having impressive extracurricular activities can show that you can excel both inside and outside the classroom, which is great for your application. You can demonstrate excellence by joining a club that interests you, joining your school band, or participating in sports. You can also do some volunteer work in your community to show your capabilities outside the classroom.

10. Double Check Everything Before Submitting Your Application

Ensure that you complete all your application materials before sending your application. If you skip even just a single item, you will miss out on the admissions cycle of that year. It is advisable to keep a checklist of the application requirements before sending yours in the mail or submitting it online. If you can, have someone you trust look everything over with you before sending everything in.

What Does It Take to Get Into Harvard?

Harvard gives careful personal attention to every application. To get into Harvard, you must have great potential for success, academic growth, and personal development. The school is constantly looking for well-rounded students that will challenge and improve those around them.

A prospective student must be able to excel in a leadership role and inspire those around them both during and after their college years. Extracurricular activities are also important as Harvard seeks to grant admittance to students who can demonstrate academic excellence with a very challenging course load, while still making a difference in their community.

How to Get Into Harvard FAQ

Can I use previous coursework to fulfill Harvard’s academic requirements?

No, you can’t. Harvard will not accept credits for any previous coursework. The college has canceled applications for advanced standing since the fall of 2020. You will find more information about this on the official website.

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Are my chances of getting admission better if a relative has attended Harvard?

Yes. Although the application is the same for every candidate, the daughters and sons of Harvard alumni among a group of similarly distinguished applicants may receive additional consideration.

As a Harvard student, must I reside on campus?

During your first year, yes. Every Harvard student must live on campus during their first year at college. It’s a good idea to start thinking of some things you’ll want your future college roommate to know about you. Some students choose to live outside the campus in the following years, but the percentage is small.

What is the average salary for a Harvard graduate?

According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a Havard graduate is $95,000.

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