How to Get into Harvard University

Mar 23, 2021

Harvard is one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in the US. Founded back in 1936, this university has an acceptance rate of 4.6 percent only. This means that only a handful of applicants get to move in on admission day. It’s not impossible to get into Harvard. Keep reading to learn more on how to write and perfect your Harvard application.

A quick review on applying to Harvard

There are three ways that you can use to apply to Harvard. And they are university college applications, common applications, and coalition applications. The common application and the university college application will increase your chances of getting into the university. When applying always remember to send:

  • The university’s general application
  • Complete supplemental essays
  • High school transcript
  • A midyear report
  • Two recommendation letters from teachers
  • SAT subject tests
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • Fee waiver or $75 application fee
  • Your school report and a recommendation letter from the counselor
  • IB, AP, or any standardized exams that you’ve taken (While this is optional, we highly recommend)

Visiting undergraduates and transfer applicants have different requirements and deadlines. Therefore, it’s always important to confirm everything on Harvard’s Requirements page before submitting your documents.

How difficult is it to get admitted?

As we said earlier, Harvard’s admission rate stands at 4.6 percent. And this makes it one of the most selective learning institutions not only in America but also in the world. Last year, close to 44000 students applied to study here. However, only 2009 were admitted. In the end, only 1650 students chose to attend the university. 4.6 percent sounds intimidating. However, you need to keep in mind that the strength of your profile largely determines the likelihood of being accepted. 

There are a lot of people who go around sharing their tips on how to get into this prestigious university. However, only a few are completely honest. Some of their tips might reduce your chances of getting accepted. To increase your chances of getting accepted, you should consider consulting people who have been admitted to Harvard successfully.

How do you get into Harvard?

There are several core values that Harvard uses to evaluate student applications. We’ll talk about them in a few. But the main quality that the board of admission looks for in your application is a zeal for life and learning.

Growth and potential

You shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that a huge part of your potential is determined by your past academic performance. The majority of freshmen who were admitted in the last cycle earned STA scores that ranged between 1470 – 1570. As for the ACT, the numbers were between 33 and 35. Admitted students had an average GPA of 4.18.

However, there is much more to growth than academic success. Harvard wants to ensure that you are on the path of continuous self-development and improvement. Your letters of recommendation, essays, and a positive grade trend demonstrate that you are ready and willing to improve.

Interests and activities

Harvard does not have an opinion on what you are passionate about. All they want is to have self-driven applicants who want to make an impact in the domain that they are passionate about. The officers evaluating your application will want to know what you did with the time and resources that you had. Therefore, lead when a chance presents itself. And always be on the lookout for impactful opportunities in your area of specialization. Always focus on things that you need to be done but no one is willing or interested in taking action.

Character and personality

Fortunately, there is no specific character that you have to show on your application. However, it’s essential to demonstrate initiative while avoiding negative signaling. Above all, you need to be specific. Doing some soul searching and asking loved ones to help you understand yourself will help in bringing out your character and personality clearly and uniquely.

Contribution to the university’s community

A substantial portion of this is beyond your control. Every year has a diverse class in terms of background and interests. Bringing an under-represented personal history can increase the likelihood of securing favorable decisions. However, this value is largely determined by what you do on campus than who you’ll become. Therefore, take time to help your admissions officers cast a vision. How can you improve the lives of your professors, classmates, and the entire Harvard fraternity?

Making your application stand out

The majority of students who want to get into Harvard have a hard time that they can stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee. In most cases, there is a lot you can do to persuade the committee that you have the drive and commitment to excel on campus.

Showcase your excellence

The best way to showcase your excellence is by addressing your greatest academic and extracurricular accomplishments in the most favorable way. This might sound like bragging. However, it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the university professionally. If possible, always consult assignment help uk to quantify and record your successes effectively e.g. created X videos to encourage environment preservation at school.

Write a good essay

The majority of Harvard applicants have stellar profiles. As a business law student, you need to seek law essay help to showcase a unique voice and character. If the admissions officer can’t seem to forget you, they are more likely to vouch for you when it comes to making difficult decisions between qualified candidates.

Discuss the application theme

To shoot for Harvard, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Your essay, grades, letter of recommendation, and test scores come together to paint a clear picture of your character and personality. Like an artist, you need to be in control of the entire project. There are specific aspects and compliments of your personality that your recommenders can share. Therefore, always communicate with them first about what you write in your letter.

Harvard setting and students

This section will help you have a clear idea of the location and culture and Harvard. This will help you determine whether it’s a good fit for you.


The prestigious university is nestled in Cambridge’s misty groves. It is quite a large school with 16000 staff members and 36000 students. However, within this group, the undergraduate class is small. Harvard is home to more than 6000 students each year. Class sizes are small with an average size of 12 students.


Students come from different countries around the world to make the most out of Harvard’s resources. Harvard has focused on increasing the admission percentage of minorities. In recent years, an increase in diversity has led to debates on discrimination against specific applicants, particularly Asians, to preserve its admission percentages.

Economic status

You should keep in mind that Harvard’s student body is wealthier than the majority of Americans. Seventy percent of the students come from the top 20 percent of the economy. And the one percent is around 15 percent of Harvard’s population.


In most cases, students reside on campus since there is a residential house system. Students living on campus should be prepared to pay $11K for housing every year. University studio apartments charge an average of $2000 per month.

Chances of acceptance

While the acceptance rate of Harvard University is low, your chances are determined by you. If you have a weak academic profile, the committee might not look at your application. However, if your test scores and grades are strong, and you participate in extracurricular activities, you’ll increase your chances of success.

There are lots of online admission calculators that will help you determine your chances of getting accepted. These calculators use test scores, grades, and extracurricular to determine the odds of acceptance and share with you the best tips on improving your profile.

Harvard cost

This section will help you understand how much it costs to get into Harvard. You should keep in mind that the cost of any college is determined by government aid, financial profile, and several other factors. The costs that we are going to cover here are for a single year:

  • Housing: $11364
  • Tuition: $49653
  • Health insurance: $3922
  • Meal plan $7025
  • Health fee: on-campus $1206 and $602 off-campus
  • Financial aid cost: $12000
  • Sum cost without financial aid: $72391

The Admission process

How do admissions at Harvard work? The admissions process is comprehensive. This means that Harvard focuses on evaluating applicants as individuals instead of a collection. Apart from being the best in the world of academics, they also want individuals with great personalities and high achievers. Here is a breakdown of Harvard’s admission process:

Breakdown and scores

The admission personnel look at your profile and quantify your achievements in different categories such as extracurricular, academics, personality, athletics, and what your recommendation letters say about you. You can score from 1 to 6 with one being top priority. Applicants who get a score of one are perceived as nationally ranked. Your interviewer will also rate you according to these numbers.

Committee vote

If you get an average of two across all the categories that we’ve discussed, you’ll likely be out. However, admissions make exceptions for some students from time to time. If you score an average of two, your application will be examined by the committee to determine whether you’ll proceed. If the committee votes “Yes”, you’ll be receiving an acceptance letter.

Harvard interviews

The alumni interview system is usually used to interview applicants for Harvard. After submitting your application, you’ll get the opportunity to sit down with an alumnus in your area of specialization. Due to the pandemic, your interview is going to be over a phone call or Zoom. If you live in the US, your interviewer will initiate contact and tell you more about the interview. You should visit the official website to get more information on this depending on where you live and your current circumstances.


You can be great at everything in high school and fail to get into Harvard University. You might also see other candidates with similar achievements to yours getting accepted. Yes, it can be a frustrating experience. But don’t fret if things don’t work out. Most of the time, it’s not your fault.

Harvard admissions process is exclusive thanks to the shortages and mass demand. What’s more, most of the factors might be out of your control. A rejection might be based on geography, personality, look, or sports.

  • You might not be an athlete – Athletes make up an average of ten percent of accepted students. And their chances of getting into the prestigious university are high. Studies have shown that being an athlete increases your chances of getting in by almost one thousand.
  • You might not be affluent: A study showed that 26 percent of successful applicants came from families earning an average of $500000 in annual income. Students coming from the East Coast have a higher chance of getting into Harvard than most qualified non-legacy applicants.   

If you get rejected

What if you do everything and you get rejected? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Not all applicants are guaranteed a slot at this prestigious university. Your talent, hard work, and creativity will guarantee similar opportunities to everyone else. Your life is your making.

There is no admissions appeal in Harvard due to the long list of qualified applicants on their list. You should not petition your decision. Some students transfer to Harvard. However, their admission rate is low and requires lots of extra work. Students who have good grades and an extracurricular profile will have a good chance of achieving their goals.


You can decide to reapply the following year. However, this is a riskier path. If you don’t get accepted, it’s always important to move on. Perhaps you’ll find another learning institution that will provide similar opportunities and resources. If you want to specialize, you can think of attending a good university that’s famous for that field.

Author Bio:

Jennifer Holland is a professional writer at Best Essay Tips  and paper writing service with 3 years of experience who has been writing about education and student life for several years. She helps students get their dream job by offering them her excellent writing skills and knowledge.


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