I'm an international student from France and I'm into the application process for a few months now and I'd like to know if people from harvard who review our applications know about our school system ?
We do not (almost) have time for extracurriculars in France, I have excellent results ( 17,5/20 in12th grade atm) but my application is quite poor in extracurriculars :(
I won't submit my SAT scores
If my essays are really good, do I still have a chance to get in ?
AP classes aren't available in my country, I've already a part of my exams results ( French subject: 16/20 and 20/20 which both mean A+)
I explained my situation in the Additional section:
"As a French student I feel like I need to talk about my global study environment: French school system do not give us a lot of free time. In fact, I have class from Monday to Saturday (usually from 8am to 5pm except on Wednesdays and Saturdays). I live in a small village which is almost 1 hour away, by bus, from my school. I only have one way to go to school/ come back, it’s the bus and there are not a lot of them, which always makes me go home late. Trying to find a balance between school and personal life is a whole process which takes time, and sometimes gets on your mental health. I feel lucky enough to be as comfortable as I can with this school system, even if it’s a rhythm which is hard to follow. In this balance, the place taken by extracurriculars is restricted, so I managed to get involved in things I love from home. I can’t go to a reading club? I’ll meet people online and share all my opinions about all the books I read. The resources to learn a new language aren’t available around me ? I will learn online with my friends. (that’s how I got better in English, Italian, learned Spanish and basis of Swedish) My restricted time didn’t stop me to learn and discover new things. "
Thanks by advance !
Excellent question. Harvard AOs know a lot about school systems in other countries. They will be able to understand your grades, they'll know you don't have access to AP courses, and they'll understand that extracurriculars are not so emphasized in France.
Of course, if you want to absolutely make sure that you're on the same page, you can always explain these things in your Additional Information section on the CommonApp. If you do so, be careful to not make it sound like you're complaining that you're so busy with school you don't have time to do anything else. You also might consider having a school counselor or one of your other recommenders explain the situation for you.
I'm curious about SAT scores! Was it not possible to take the exams in France during the past year due to COVID? Taking the test and submitting a score would definitely improve your chances, even though Harvard is test optional.
Hi! I applied to Harvard EA this year and first of all, Harvard's admission officers contain staff and alumni from the college itself, and most of them have a thorough knowledge of the education system in different countries(mostly education majors). I confirmed this from a Harvard grad because I was in the same place as you.
And when it comes to extracurriculars, I had a few as well because academics in my country are emphasized more so once again, in the same place as you. The best thing to do is to use the Additional Info section to explain your circumstances, give a precise number of hours you spent in school, tuitions/classes and other activities. Only facts. Don't worry, you can do it! All the best <3
Your application can be good. You just have to maybe explain in your additional essay that ap classes weren't done in your school. Then your gpa should be high. What makes up your gpa is your academics not your extracurriculars. So if your academics are good then it will reflect on your gpa. You can add extra curriculars such as the sports or clubs you joined. Try making your profile and at the end you may b surprised of how good it looks. Good luck!
If you don't have a lot of extracurricular in high school then, you should take your own initiative like think what you are passionate about anything related to your major. Then do that, and create an impact with it. Like starting a business by your own website or write blogs. If your are interested in youtube, create youtube channel about your business or anything related to your major, Make a community of your own on particular topic, Create some project for you and do that (related to major) like publishing a book, do some internship nearby company or do some employment activities, publish your article in newspaper, and many more. You have a lot of opportunity. Go for it.
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