What should I do to prepare for Harvard?Answered
Hi, I'm a ninth grader and planning on attending Harvard. I've been doing research on Harvard and what students need to have to get accepted into Harvard. I'm looking for advice on how to make these years in high school count. For example, how many AP courses should I take? How can I get my GPA higher than 4.0? What can I do to make sure I get the best SAT scores possible? etc.
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High school junior here. Probably one of the most important things you can do is to talk to your school counselor. He/she can point you in the right direction and give you some pointers as to what you can do to prepare. Another good idea is to start studying for and taking both the SAT and ACT. As a freshman, you might not be able to take the actual SAT, but you should be able to take the PSAT, which is very similar. As far as the ACT goes, you’ll likely take the PreACT your sophomore year, though you can schedule to take the ACT at any time. Keep in mind that most states value the SAT more, except for a few oddball states (like Louisiana, where I’m from).
Like I said, your school counselor is one of your best resources, but don’t undermine the value of talking to your parent(s) as well. They can have valuable insight that you may not think they have, because at one point, they’ve been through this too. It’s important to work out how you’re going to pay for something like this, and get as much help with scholarships as possible. Ask about how much they can contribute and try to fill in the gap with scholarship money.
One of the best things that you can do at this stage, however, is extracurricular activities. Join some clubs. Play a sport or in the band. Make a habit of doing community service. If you can, maybe even try to make your own club about something meaningful. Who knows, it might take off. Harvard wants people who are involved in their communities, not just good test takers.
Good luck with your goal, and remember that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
Hey @Dali, this is a great question, and it's good that you're setting goals for yourself so early. First of all, if your school offers a large variety of AP courses, you'll want to aim to have taken around 8-12 of them by the time you graduate. If your school doesn't offer so many, you'll want to take the ones it does offer and then consider supplementing your course schedule with dual enrollment courses or possibly taking online classes or self-studying for AP exams, though these latter methods aren't as effective. As long as you're taking the most challenging courses available to you and doing well in them, you'll be on the right track.
With regard to your GPA, 4.0 should be the highest unweighted GPA you can achieve. Your school may weight your GPA (granting more points for more difficult classes, and thus enabling you to score above a 4.0). However, college admissions officers will essentially only look at your unweighted GPA.
The average SAT scores of accepted students at Harvard last year ranged from 1460 to 1580, so you'll want to shoot for this as you prepare to apply. For tips on how best to prepare for the tests, you should check out our relevant blog posts here: https://blog.collegevine.com/category/standardized-tests/sat/. In general, getting a review book and taking some practice tests is a good way to start! I wouldn't feel any pressure to seriously begin studying before 10th grade, but it can always be good to get a head start. Remember also that the ACT is just as effective as the SAT.
One other main thing to consider at this point is your extracurricular resume. You'll want to try to develop a spike (a specific area in which you've done a number of activities and in which you've achieved significant things) and also make sure you have at least a couple activities related to your intended college major. You'll want to shoot for leadership positions and/or take the initiative to start clubs or complete your own projects. For more advice on building a strong extracurricular portfolio, you should check out our video on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30evW.
In general, your preparation for an acceptance at Harvard should look like your preparation for any elite college. While nothing can really guarantee an acceptance, a rigorous course schedule, good grades, high standardized test scores, impressive extracurriculars, and beautiful essays (you can worry about these later), will make one a lot more likely. For our overall guide to elite admissions check out our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qML2UQOx10k.
Hi! I'm a ninth grader too. I'm working towards a high GPA by doing homework ahead of time and scheduling my studying for the week using a productivity app called Notion. It's also important to at least explore many extracurriculars this year to figure out what you'd like to focus on in the coming years. Based on helpful YouTube videos and articles, I think the sweet spot for AP classes is maybe 7-10. Also for SAT prep, schedule which days you'll study different information and aim for at least an hour of studying every day. This is sorta the plan I'm setting for myself. Good luck to you!
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