2 years ago
Admissions Advice

A transfer student wanting to get into Havard

Hi. I'm currently a sophmore studying at a public local high school(ranked around 1100) in the USA. I just transferred here this school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I'm from Asia and my original school is ranked around 40 in my city. My average score is around 87-100, but I'm not taking any AP/honor classes as my counsellor told me that I need more time to adapt to the environment. I'm currently not on any school teams, but I do know how to play the piano and the flute. What can I do this year to make my transcript more appealing?

Many thanks :)

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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

Harvard, like other Ivy League colleges are very difficult to get into even if you have a perfect 100/100 GPA and perfect test scores.

Unlike the Asian college admissions process which is more of a meritocracy based on grades and test scores, top American colleges do not work like that. In Asia, if you have perfect grades and test scores, you get in to top colleges. Here in the US, all top colleges use a 2 way holistic process.

The best colleges want not only evidence of top grades and test scores but they also care deeply about your personal character (qualities like grit, integrity, selflessness, leadership, kindness), the quality and strength of your ECs (extracurricular s like Varsity Sports, School Govt. leadership, Musical or performing arts excellence, Club membership/leadership like Model UN, Debate Team, Mock Trial, Deca, Community service like volunteering and serving on community boards or non-profits, recommendations, a "WOW" factor like a "SPIKE" activity (something that you are remarkably good at like Opera Singing, Ballet dancing, creating APPs,) and additional evidence of something called "intellectual curiosity" or "intellectual vitality"). The last term is some kind of outside learning you do because of your love of learning.

So on one side of the holistic coin, you have to show colleges like Harvard up to 200+ data points, many of which are qualitative attributes versus quantitative ones. On the opposite side of the holistic coin, schools like Harvard all have a their own idea of what kind of student they would like to enrich their campus with so they do their own review of your application based on "FIT" to their school. So you might be a great baseball player and Class President and a member of Glee Club but they might pick someone who is a Lacrosse Player, an first chair Viola player and someone who created a PODCAST series on Native American history because that makes more sense to them since they need a Varsity Lacrosse player who plays the Viola.

Also keep in mind all the Top Private colleges have a high admit rate for ALDCs. Who are ALDCs? These are recruited athletes, legacies or kids of parents who went to the school, Development Candidates or rich kids whose parents donated millions $$$ to the school or Dean's list VIP applicants like movie stars and pop singers, and lastly Children of Professors and other staff at the School. So perhaps 1/3 of incoming Freshman class are ALDCs.

Also keep in mind all the Top Private colleges have progressive DEIA policies which greatly benefit applicants who have a hook. A hook is someone Black or Hispanic/LatinX/Indigenous(Native American), or someone from a marginalized group like LGBTQIA+ or low income, first generation (coming from a family where no one attended college).

The hardest demographic to get into Harvard or another Ivy League college or Elite school like Stanford or UChicago or Duke are East Asian kids. It doesn't matter if you are Indian, Chinese, Korean, or other SE Asian, you are at a huge disadvantage if you apply to Harvard because Asians are the most qualified on paper but there are just not enough spots for them all because Harvard has other priorities like ALDCs and HOOK applicants.

There is actually a very significant class action Lawsuit before the Supreme Court right now about how Harvard uses races to determine who it admits. It's not looking good for Asians.

My best advice is to work with someone very smart who fully understands the college admissions system. If your parents have the means, they can hire a college consultant who can put a road map in front of you to follow for the next 2 years. If you are low income, then try to get free support from community based organizations like Matriculate or Posse.

Your 87 is not very impressive at this time, certainly below the academic standard for all these schools. You want to use your time very efficiently to maximize the best possible outcomes for college. You shouldn't assume that you have a good chance at Harvard or any other Ivy since 95% of applicants do not get admitted and most of them are A Students with lots of impressive ECS. You might also consider, repeating a grade of high school so that you have better ECs, better grades, and better course rigor. It's practical advice that might help you in the long run.

Good luck.

2 years ago

A lot of good points were previously mentioned. Adding to them, the most important thing you can do is work on being unique. Try to learn outside the classroom through classes or independent research. Do extracurriculars that few other people take part in, such as curling. Lastly, work on studying for the SAT/ACT while you are not taking APs at the moment.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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