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(reposted from one of my previous answers)
There is no magic way to get into Harvard. There’s no magic way to get into ANY university of that caliber, especially Ivys. Top colleges want to see you to be a genuine person rather than a robot who tries to become a “perfect” student or follow some formula of specific clubs, test scores, meticulously worded essays, etc to try to scheme their way into a top college. Here is the basic breakdown. Generally Ivys want to see people who are 1) academically gifted 2) unique 3) award winners 4) passionate about SOMETHING and 5) driven/motivated. Being smart is not enough.
* take as many AP classes as possible, and keep a rigor of almost all advanced (IB H, AP, Honors, Pre-AP) classes
* take special electives geared towards what you want to study in college (if you don’t know what that is, that’s okay!!)
* aim for TOP TOP grades of mostly As and A+s (or whatever the top grades at your school are) and be an active class participator
* freshman year - join/test out multiple clubs, do online research, ask around, etc to figure out what you want to study in college
* Sophomore year and future - become a leader/officer (President, VP, etc) in clubs, win awards, participate in internships, etc
* YOUR ECS SHOULD BE 1) related to your major, 2) showcase leadership and officer position/talent 3) something you participate in for multiple years
* if you can try to start a club Freshman or Sophomore year and grow it to 15+ members but make it something legit (i.e. not Manga/Anime club)
*** don’t do volunteering just for the hell of it - it should be a concerted and concentrated effort towards an organization or cause that you actually care about. volunteering awards that are given for the # of hours are somewhat meaningless and doing random volunteering to win an award is a waste of time since it’s not unique and so many high school students do this every year. it shows nothing about who you are as a person
* take 2-3 SAT Subject tests. Aim to score 750+ or ideally 770-780+ on all of them. If you are going into science/STEM take Math and Science.
* aim for scores of either 1550+ SAT or 34+ ACT. The higher your score, the better. A perfect score will NOT, and I repeat, WILL NOT guarantee you an acceptance since 1/3 of people applying to Ivy-caliber schools have perfect scores. Don’t waste your four years on SAT prep to try to get a 1600 when your time could be better used
* don’t start SAT/ACT prep now cause it will only add extra stress. You also dont know the necessary math (through Algebra II) or English (through Pre-AP or 10H english) to do well on the SAT/ACT. Wait a little while when you learn more. Focus now on clubs, teacher relationships, and grades
* take the SAT/ACT either the end of 10th grade or the beginning of/summer before 11th grade
* get letters of recommendations from your JUNIOR OR SENIOR year teachers. If your freshman teachers will be your teachers in the future or they are club advisor who you will have a relationship w in the future, then start to become friendly with and helpful to them so that you can ask them for a LOR in the future.
Hope this is helpful.