2 months ago
Admissions Advice

Can someone explain the Harvard Admissions Process?

-How does the Harvard admissions work based on the admissions case?

-How much would being a URM(black), a girl, Restrictive Early Action, good LORs, and good Personal Essays boost my chances?

Also, can you give me an example of rank 1, 2, and 3 for each subset(Athletics, Academic Index, Personal, Extracurricular) For example, what would be a 1, 2, and 3 for Extracurriculars?


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1 answer

2 months ago

-Since Harvard was completely exonerated from any wrong doing in recent lawsuits brought forth, they continue to use their scorecard system with over 200+ data points. Your application will be read most likely by (1) reader unless there is some "grey area" that needs another reader to weigh in or if you are a legacy applicant.

-Assume that everyone applying to Harvard has excellent LORs and stellar essays so the fact you think you have good ones really doesn't matter right? It just means you are showing up to the dance with the right outfit to pass muster. Being Black is a "hook" that improves your chances because Harvard like all Ivy's and Elites employs some sort of internal affirmative action policy. After visiting and researching all the Ivys, I found that Princeton is probably the most pro-active Ivy that has the most diversity on campus with 68% of the Class of 2025 identifying as a person of color. At Harvard it was 60.9% for the Class of 2025. Being Black doesn't give you as much as boost during REA as if you were a "ADLC" applicant which stands for Legacy, Recruited Athlete, Child of Harvard Employee, or Dean's list recruit (like a development candidate whose family donated $millions already to the school). Those 4 category applicants have a distinct advantage over someone with a race hook. Therefore, I would not bank on either of the 3 things you pointed out during the REA process. Over a 5-6 year period at Harvard, ADLC applicants who primarily apply during REA comprised only 5.6% of the applications however received 35.5% of the admissions. So if Harvard say admits 2000 students, then roughly 710 of them were ADLCs. Keep in mind that only 747 applicants were admitted during the last cycle. I'm not here to dissuade you from applying REA but you should know the facts.

-Here is rough outline of the numerical scores that Harvard readers mark their scorecard with. If you doubt their accuracy you can research the Harvard Lawsuit case which is several hundred pages long and has these values embedded in the discovery documents of the court case from 5-6 years ago. The only caveat is that since the numbers are 5-6 years old, I truly believe that the SAT/ACT scores are no longer valid. The SAT for Magna is probably 760-800 and ACT 34+ and for Cum Laude, the SAT is probly 700-750 and ACT 30-33. Test score have clearly shifted upwards in 5/6 years.

Most successful admits like the 1st STD DEV admits (+/-68%) are overall 2s either 2+, 2 or 2-. Then rest are a mix of ADLCs and applicants who come from a marginalized background, 1st generation or low income.

Numerical Score Academic Rating

1 Summa Potential Genuine Scholar

Near Perfect Scores

Unusual Creativity

Evidence of Original Scholarship

2 Magna Potential Superb Grades

Mid to high 700 SAT Scores

33+ ACT Score

3 Cum Laude Potential Very Good Student with excellent grades

Mid 600s to Low 700s SAT Scores

29 to 32 ACT

4 Marginal Potential Respectable Grades

Low to mid 600 SAT Scores

26-29 ACT

5 Achievement or Motivation Marginal Modest Grades and 500 scores

25 or Below ACT

Numerical Score Extracurricular, Community, Employment, Family Rating

1 Summa Potential Unusual Strength in one or more areas.

Possible National level achievement or prof. experience

A potential major contributor at Harvard

Truly unusual achievement

2 Magna Potential Strong secondary school contribution in more areas such as

Class president, newspaper editor etc

Local or regional recognition, Major achievement

3 Active Participation Very good school contribution without distinction

Good community service or volunteering

Some talents in art, music etc.

4 Little or No Interest Respectable achievement and participation

Light service

Team orientate

5 Substantial activity outside conventional No significant achievement or participation

EC Participation family, term-time work Little of no extracurricular activities

6 Physical condition prevents significant activity Can't participate due to health or mental issues

Numerical Score Personal Rating Grit, Leadership, Integrity, Helpfulness, Courage, Kindness

1 Outstanding superior bravery and courage in the face of insurmountable obstacles

Proven leadership and citizenship

Best living example of genuine kindness, selflessness, humility

Unquestionable integrity, resiliency, spirit and camaraderie with peers

2 Very Strong Excellent human qualities and personality

Has overcome some obstacles with graciousness, gratitude

Humility and humbleness

Overall good person

3 Generally Positive Easy to talk to and communicate

Has clear moral compass and good attitude toward goals

Strong work ethic

No particular personality spike

4 Bland or somewhat negative or immature Signs of entitlement, superiority or chip on ones shoulder

No filter, doesn't take life that seriously

Not very engaging or skilled in the art of conversation

5 Questionable personal qualities Not self aware and shows undesirable traits such as narrow mindedness

Not a compassionate or kind person

6 Worrisome Personal Qualities Someone with undeveloped personality and negative traits

Numerical Score Teacher Recommendation Ratings -School Support

1 Strikingly unusual support The Best Ever

One of the Best in X Years

Truly over the Top

2 Very Strong Support One of the Best in X Years

The Best This Year in X

3 Above Average Positive Support Very Good Student great potential

4 Good to Marginal Support Average student with unrealized potential

5 Very Marginal Support Can't support one way or the other

Numerical Score Athletic Rating

1 Recruited Athlete Will play Varsity College Athletics

2 Excellent Athlete Potential to walk on to Varsity team, had leadership role in HS athletics

3 Active Participant May do intramural athletics

4 Little or no Participation in Athletics Not expected to participate in Athletics

Numerical Score Interview Rating -TBD

1 Unusually appealing personal qualities Unusual Effervescence


Strength of character


2 Excellent Excellent personality, mannerisms, and shows maturity

Excellent conversationalist

Shows examples of character

3 Very Good Very good person

Easy to get along with

Very good track record of balanced work

4 Good Nothing outstanding about this candidates resume or academic record

Nothing outstanding about EC's, experience or viewpoint

5 Marginal No redeeming benefits to institution

Last thing is that CollegeVine has some excellent Youtube videos about how to get into Harvard. I highly recommend watching them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trACSy_js5Y

There is no short answer to your questions, so I hope this was helpful and what you were looking for. Good luck.


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