This is part of a series of posts providing advice you can use when completing The Common Application for 2011. You can find the entire series, includng tips for the Common App’s required essays and advice on completing the activities section at https://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-common-application-tips.
As one of the most selective colleges in the country, many students apply to Harvard, yet only a small percentage receive an offer of admission. Harvard College could admit an entire class of students with 4.0 GPAs and 2400 SAT scores. They don’t. Yes, their admitted students present outstanding academic qualifications. They are well-rounded extracurricularly, or they are, in the words of Harvard “well-lopsided.” Either way, students at Harvard are actively engaged in something, whether it is many things, or one thing.
Here are a few tips for completing your Harvard application:
- The suggested deadline is December 1 for all candidates. Try to meet it, rather than the final deadline of January 1. While you might want to consider utilizing the December or January test dates to finish your testing (Harvard will accept them), having the bulk of your application submitted will allow more time for scheduling your alumni interview, and for you to tie up any missing recommendations.
- Harvard requires the ACT with writing or the SAT exam. They also require 2 SAT II subject tests in different subjects, and encourage the submission of additional scores. If you have strong scores in additional subject tests, or on AP or IB exams, add that information to your application. For many students, scores on the SAT or ACT increase if you have taken the test for a second time. With score choice, you can try a second time without adversely affecting your application. Take the test a second time. A tenth time? Unless something has changed dramatically that will improve your scores, spend your time on other pursuits.
- The Harvard supplement does not require an additional essay, however, you may choose to submit one on the topic of your choice. Before you feel compelled to fill blank space, be certain that you will enhance your application by adding additional information. For instance, they mention that you might include a list of books that you have read in the last 12 months. If you spend substantial time reading for pleasure or intellectual engagement, this might prove compelling insight on your application. If your list outside of AP English includes only a few bestsellers and a Chicken Soup for the Soul, consider the reader of your application. One extra page, times 30,000 applicants, means you best have something meaningful to say.
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