Who doesn’t dream of getting an acceptance letter from Harvard University? After all, it was the alma mater of multiple U.S. presidents and Nobel laureates like T.S. Eliot and Al Gore, among others.
If you’re reading these lines, you must be one of those willing to try their chances at getting into Harvard. But you must also realize that the competition is cutthroat. Tens of thousands apply for this university, but only 4% of applicants get selected. Harvard has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the country!
Of course, you must know by now that your high school GPA and ACT or SAT score have to be impeccable to stand a chance at entering Harvard. (US News puts the minimum high school GPA at 3.9, ACT at 33-36, and SAT at 1480-1580.)
But there’s more to being a successful Harvard applicant than those numbers. You may need the help of a professional paper writer from essaypro to ace the selection, for one. And, you should take into account these seven ways to tilt the admission board’s opinion of you in your favor.
1. Be Active Outside of School Hours
Harvard application contains a section on your extracurricular activities. So, of course, you’ll need to have something to put in there.
These activities can include:
- Family responsibilities
- Community engagement
Keep in mind, though: it’s quality, not quantity, that matters here. So, if you have tons of activities you can add to the application, try narrowing down your selection to just several of them. How do you pick? List all activities and choose the ones that you care about the most – and spend most of your time on.
Your activities also don’t have to be unique or exotic. It can be something as simple as babysitting or lending a hand in your family business. These activities should demonstrate who you are to give the admission board an idea of whether you’re the right person for this university.
2. Develop Your Leadership Skills
Speaking of being the right person for Harvard. This university is looking for applicants with tremendous leadership potential. So, you need to show you have it – through your extracurricular activities, first and foremost.
What does it mean in practice? If successful applications are anything to go by, you can prove you have what it takes by:
- Joining the Model UN team or a debate club
- Participating in the Student Council
- Prioritizing extracurriculars that involve teamwork
- Seeking out leadership positions in your clubs and at school: you can run for president, become a secretary, etc.
3. Have Some Achievements to Show for Your Interests
While it’s important to demonstrate you have one or two well-developed interests, you also need to prove you’re already successful at what you do. Harvard is looking for emerging leaders, after all.
So, participate in contests, aim to win competitions, and, if applicable, prepare a knockout portfolio.
What achievements are enough for Harvard? Focus on the tournaments, contests, and competitions on the national or state level. However, becoming a student body president at your school also reflects well on your application. Or, if you had your poems published, this counts as an achievement, too.
4. Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer
Harvard isn’t looking exclusively for successful emerging leaders. Even if you don’t fit this bill, this university puts a bold emphasis on community engagement and volunteering. So, demonstrate you have already made a positive impact on the grassroots level.
When it comes to volunteering, there’s no one right way to do it. Here are just a few ways you can help make the world a better place – while improving your chances of getting into Harvard:
- Help out in a soup kitchen and local homeless shelter
- Join Habitat for Humanity
- Participate in a volunteering abroad program
- Lend a hand at a local charity organization
5. Perfect Your Personal Essay Writing Skills
Your personal essay, as the name suggests, is where you demonstrate who you are, beyond the grades and test scores. Your aim should be to persuade the admission board you’re the right person for the university – without being too pushy, of course.
If you want to ace this part of the application, it’s best to start practicing early on. Take every prompt suggested on the university’s application and write a personal essay using it. Then, you’ll have several essays among which you can choose the best. Remember to:
- Be concise and clear
- Proofread your essay (you can use certain software tools to streamline this process)
- Let your draft sit for a day or two before rereading and editing it
- Avoid coming off as too brash or arrogant in your essay
- Ask someone you trust to read your essays and give you some feedback
6. Don’t Hesitate to Explain Your Grades
Perhaps, a disability or an illness affected your studying, preventing you from getting a perfect GPA. You may also come from an underprivileged background, which represents a challenge both in and outside of school.
Don’t get discouraged: you can still try your chances at getting into Harvard. There’s an Additional Information field in the application where you can explain those circumstances. But keep in mind: you should strike a fine balance between justifying your grades and not sounding desperate.
7. Prepare for the Interview
Acing the application, while crucial, doesn’t mean you can lean back and relax. If your application corresponds to what Harvard is looking for, you may get invited to an in-person interview with an alum. And how you carry yourself through it can help your acceptance chances.
Here are a few quick tips for acing that interview:
- Don’t miss out on basic politeness and courtesy during the interview
- Prepare your own questions to demonstrate your interest in studying at Harvard
- Be truthful in your answers and remain authentic
- Avoid the jitters by going through a relaxing routine before the interview
Harvard is among the most selective universities not just in the United States, but in the whole world. After all, a Harvard degree can set you up for lifelong success – and help you become a stellar expert in your field.
So, once you decide to try securing a spot at this prestigious university, you’ll have a long way to go to prepare yourself for it. It’s best to start working towards a knockout application in your freshman year. This will show your commitment to extracurriculars, for one. Worrying about your grades is also something you shouldn’t put off until your senior year. Good luck!