How To Get Accepted To Harvard Without Perfect Grades!
Harvard College is probably the most recognized and prestigious school in the entire world. Their academics are top notch and a degree from such a well respected college can be a real difference-maker in landing you a lucrative job once you graduate. But what does it really take to get accepted to Harvard College?
In our previous article series, we showed you the Top 5 Ways To Look Good To Colleges. In this article, we are going to take it a step further and cover some of the lesser-known aspects on how to get accepted to Harvard. But before we begin, let’s get a few things cleared up with regard to academics and what the prestigious schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale look for in their prospective students.
Academics Are Not Everything
When parents and students think of the Ivy League schools and other elite universities, immediately they think grades and test scores. Now, we are not going to tell you that you’ll gain admission to those high caliber schools without stellar grades because it’s not realistic. Yes, the Ivy League schools are looking for the top students academically, but that is not to say you have to be a valedictorian and have straight A’s since birth.
The reality is that these elite institutions see thousands of applications each year from some of the top students in the world. So, your high ACT/SAT scores along with your great grades can only go so far due to the extremely tough competition you are up against. You have to show them something in addition to your outstanding academic achievement. These “other factors” are what we are going to cover here…
How To Get Accepted To Harvard
You will need more than just grades to set you apart or help you to stand out to the admissions officers. Knowing what they look for and prefer in their applicants can really up your chances of getting noticed and making a lasting and positive impression on them. With that in mind, let’s cover 3 different areas that you can knock the socks off those admission reps. And, they have nothing to do with grades or test scores!
Involvement is key in competitive college admissions. Ivy League schools such as Harvard College want their students to be involved and have a well-rounded high school experience. In other words, they will be turned off by the applicants that have focused solely on academics and had no social life or involvement in extra-curricular activities. But be careful. There is a common myth out there that more is better when it comes to activities. This is not true! Our advice to you would be to get involved in clubs or activities that interest you, not just the ones that “look good”. Once you join a few, you need to take it a step further.
Sure, involvement in a few clubs or volunteer programs is great but colleges like Harvard are looking for students that have held leadership positions within those clubs. You can be involved in 10 different things during high school, but if you were not in a position of leadership you may be wasting your time! Less competitive schools may love your level of involvement and admit you. Congrats! But, we are talking about Harvard here and they are looking for community leaders as many of their graduates continue to be leaders in society.
As a quick example, running for President or Vice President of the club you are involved in is something you should consider. Also, being a student tutor for underclassmen can be a great example of leadership and also display your ability to work with others in more of an instructional environment. The bottom line is that if you plan on getting involved, make sure your goal is to take on some form of leadership within the club or activity that you choose.
Next, we need to explain what we like to call Initiative. This one can really have that WOW factor with the college admission reps and will set you apart from other applicants. Initiative can be simply described as: starting your own club, activity or community service project.
Let’s say that you are interested in computer repair. You are knowledgeable about computers, and have a few friends that are as well. The very first thing you should do is approach your school Principal, Counselor or Activities Director to inquire about how to start a new club. Once you’ve gathered your information, begin to write up a proposal for this new club and give it a name. Make sure you do a great job and make it look as professional as possible.
Why??? Because when you are applying to get accepted to Harvard, you can tell them that you started up your own club! We’ll talk a little more about this in a minute….
Another example would be starting up your own community service project. A simple project would be setting something up with a local Animal Shelter or Humaine Society where you and a handful of friends spend a couple hours playing with/walking some dogs. Again, make sure you contact the Animal Shelter ahead of time and also write up a proposal about your community service project.
These “start ups” don’t have to be complex or take up enormous amounts of time, but they can be a huge plus in helping you get accepted to Harvard. They just have to show initiative to the college reps and also that you are not afraid to go off on your own and give back to your school or community! If and when at all possible, try to develop a club or project that directly relates to your area of interest or college major. That will tie in nicely when you for your college interview. Speaking of interview…
Not all colleges will have the time or resources to interview you face to face. Harvard College will, so you need to be prepared. Prior to your interview, keep in mind that they’ve probably seen thousands of students with the same scores as you academically. Your job here is to set yourself apart by talking about what you’ve done outside the classroom, and also complimenting them, their school and their reputation for academic excellence.
But that isn’t enough. Remember, it’s Harvard! They know they are great, so you will need to come up with a few specific things that you love about them. Here’s a tip: when you take your campus tour and research the school, take note of a few things that you can talk about in the interview. These specifics should be positive attributes that you can compliment them on and also use as answers when they ask you what interests you most about Harvard.
Also, have 2 or 3 questions on hand so that when they ask you if you have questions, you can ask them! They love it when students show genuine interest, so make sure it is just that…GENUINE. Don’t just ask a question for the sake of asking because they’ve seen and heard it all. They’ll know when you are genuinely intersted, and when you aren’t.
Remember earlier when we told you to write up a proposal about your new club or community service project? Here is where you can really show it off and WOW the Harvard reps! During the interview, present them with a copy of your proposal so that they have a great example of what exactly you developed and how you put your plan into place! The vast majority of interviewees will not have anything like that, thus giving you an edge over the competition. Again, make sure it is comprehensive, professional looking, has a unique name so that you can refer to it as that, and also make sure you have multiple copies in case you have more than one interviewer.
The Bottom Line To Getting Into Harvard
Getting accepted to Harvard College isn’t as unattainable as many parents and students think. Sure, you have to have top grades and test scores to put yourself in the best possible position, but it goes beyond that due to the intense level of competition. If you have the grades, make sure you get involved, become a leader, start a community service project and above all else….ENJOY your high school experience!
ATTENTION: Students without straight A’s
First of all, don’t panic! It’s not too late for you to get accepted to Harvard, but NOW is the time to turn things around! Take a look at Hopeless To Harvard. Here’s a great example and story of a student who had a B+ average, and still managed to get himself accepted to Harvard! His name is John Chang and he was like many students out there who are right on the fence of getting accepted, and getting waitlisted…only he managed to pull it off because he knows what carries the most weight with admissions reps. Here are a few more examples of how he was less than perfect, but still got in…
- 3.4 overall GPA
- Officer in both French and Science Clubs
- 1360 SAT score
- Accepted to Harvard, Stanford and Yale!
Also, once he was accepted and enrolled, he worked in admissions and has seen literally 1000′s of applications. What he’s seen, positive and negative, can work for you! Take a look at his website: Hopeless To Harvard
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