Harvard University Panel
Get the inside scoop on all things Harvard from two current students.
2021-08-04 Harvard University Panel
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar panel on Harvard University. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hi everybody. My name is Julia. My pronouns are she her hers? I’m in the class of 2022 and I’m a joint concentrator in theater, dance, media and music. Hi everybody. I’m Sophie. Uh, I also use she, her, her pronouns. Um, I’m also class of 2022 and I studied integrative biology as my major, uh, with a minor in earth and planetary stuff.
So a quick brief overview of Harvard. Um, the location is Boston, Massachusetts. Um, it’s actually in Cambridge, but we usually just say Boston. [00:01:00] Um, it’s a private school. Um, it’s a pretty large school with 23,731 total students, um, with 7,000 around 7,000 undergraduate students and around 14,000 graduate students.
Um, our setting is urban, um, which means we’re very close to the city. And, um, our campus size is 5,000 470 57 8, not 7,500. Oh my gosh. 5,457 acres. There we go. And our students, faculty ratio is six to one.
All right. So some, uh, some fun tribute for you guys, some notable alums of, of Harvard art books, mark Zuckerberg, I guess he technically received a degree in 2007. Um, Barack Obama may know him, uh, class of 91 school and Jeremy Lin, uh, fantastic NBA player, class of 2010. Um, also other fun facts are that we have 49 Nobel laureates in our, in our [00:02:00] midst who have graduated.
Um, also have the largest academic library in the world. Weidener library. Um, part of which is underground and Harvard stadium, which is apparently the nation’s oldest stadium.
Um, so some of our undergraduate academic divisions, we’ve got arts and humanities, science, social science, and the school of engineering and applied sciences. Also known as SDA.
We also have some graduate academic divisions, uh, should that pick your interest down, down the line? We have a Harvard law school medical school, um, as the one was the dental medicine school, uh, the T H Chan school of public health. Um, the business school HBS, uh, Harvard graduate school of education or hugging for short, uh, the graduate school of design and the divinity school.
So some of our most popular [00:03:00] majors also known as concentrations are social sciences, biology, mathematics, economics, and government. And then for athletics, um, NCAA division one, um, we are an NCAA division one school. We have 149 national team championships and 42 varsity teams.
Uh, in terms of extracurriculars, we have over 400 student organizations. So you can, uh, take your pick of what you’re interested in, or if it doesn’t exist yet you create your own. Uh, we also have a best housing system, uh, after your first year, you’re placed into one of the 12 colleges are retarded one, this one, 12 houses on campus, um, in terms of, uh, traditions and events, there’s the game as it was coined, uh, which is, uh, the Harvard football team versus the Yale bulldogs, which is a fun event every year that rotates between, uh, Harvard stadium and the Gail bowl.
Um, we also have some. Exciting events such as cultural rhythms, um, where a [00:04:00] typically a guest of honor is invited to campus. Uh, past recipients have been, uh, Solange Knowles, uh, Lucy Lu. Um, we also have a yard Fest, which the concert outdoor concert twisted for students every year, uh, and arts first, uh, was Julia can tell you all about it.
It’s a really cool opportunity for, uh, student performers, uh, to share their art they create throughout the year. Um, there’s also individual hows traditions, um, visit task, which is basically my admit is at admittance admitted students weekend. Uh, it’s a great time. And at the first year, day of service to kick off, uh, start a freshman year.
So now I’ve got a quick poll. Um, so you’ll see the poll should just have popped up right there. So go ahead and submit your answer and we’ll, we’ll see. We’ll see what I’ll go ahead and click. Yes. Maybe I’ll click. Not sure. Just the.[00:05:00]
Where do we get to see if you click on poles? Wow. We have more, not chairs than I expected. 36 people who are not sure. We also have 87 people who say yes, so that, that checks out.
Okay. So it looks like you have you to have a few people to sway. Uh, Alrighty. So, so I personally chose Harvard. Um, as you can see here, I said, because of its fantastic people, um, which includes both students and faculty, incredible opportunities and access to wide ranging networks in all different fields.
Um, when I first applied to Harvard, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Um, but I knew that the people there, um, were going to be fantastic. And, and that really, when I say students and faculty, I really, really do mean both my peers, um, the [00:06:00] teaching assistants and also the, the amazing, amazing professors you want to find people, um, as amazing as that in necessarily in your school,
And I just Harvard says here because I was really excited to learn alongside students have at myriad of different interests, uh, Spanish, humanities, sciences, social sciences, engineering, uh, you name it, uh, in an urban environment that was really just teaming with opportunity. And, uh, similarly, I wasn’t sure I think what I wanted to do, but I had the choice between a school that, you know, Harvard, where students have really a wide range of academic interests.
And when it was born narrowly focused on sciences and engineering for me in the end, it was really an interest in being amongst peers and learning among peers who had a wide array of very serious interests, uh, that I could learn from student. That was what drew me to her.
Alrighty. We’ve got another call here. Let’s see. Where are you in the application [00:07:00] process? I’m almost done.
Gotcha. Your responses coming in, researching schools, you come to the right place. If you’re researching schools right now,
it looks like a more even spread than the last. Yeah, there’s a pretty good mix. Lots of researchers, lots of research school researchers right here, again. Right place. Right place. Right place. A good job to the two people who are almost done. One of those Marvin Julia,
so good, good job to the one person. Uh, it’s an awesome place to be at in August. Um, okay. I think that’s, we have about everyone. 19% haven’t started [00:08:00] 51% are researching schools. 17% are working on their essays. 12% are getting their application materials together and 1% is almost done.
All right. So now we’ll talk a bit about, um, the application process. Um, so in terms of your application options, you have available to you, uh, there’s restrictive early action, which is of course it’s different than regular early action in that you can only pick one school to apply to. So that is, uh, one thing that’s common among, uh, I believe Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford.
Um, so that deadline is December 1st, uh, 2021. Um, but we also have, uh, regular decision, uh, available, uh, which is, uh, application of course, common be shared among many, many schools January 1st. Um, So in terms of number of supplemental essays, you have two extra essays plus one optional essay that I would strongly encourage that you do [00:09:00] the one optional essay, um, as for acceptance rates or reviewing 2021 data overall was 5.2%.
Um, regular decision, if you just, you know, um, just look at that regular or the RD applicants, uh, those are the three per 3.4% acceptance rate. And for restrictive early action, only a 14.5%. Uh, and it’s free.
So here we have food stats. So the average stats for admitted students, um, for GPA. 3.9. Um, average act score is in the 33 to 35 range. Um, average sat score is in the 1,470 to 1,570 range. And then the application for, um, in terms of need-based financial aid. Um, so there’s the institutional documentation service also known as ideas C from college board.
Um, you’ll also have to fill out the at [00:10:00] CSS profile, um, from college board. And then also there is the FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid, um, which is very United States citizens only.
Okay. So we went through that really fast. Um, this is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. So we hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the information in the slides from the link in the handout. Yeah. Moving on to the live Q and a, a read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.
So you can see and then read them out loud before our panelists, give you an answer as a heads up. If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, double check that you join the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page. Okay. Um, I, our [00:11:00] first question is, um,
can Harvard take away their acceptance? So actually in some rare cases, Harvard can take away their acceptance. It’s called being rescinded. If you get into Harvard and then do something really, really bad or something changes very dramatically, um, your application can be rescinded. Um, so if you are admitted, just make sure to continue being the great student that you are.
Um, the great person that you are. Don’t do anything too crazy. You never know you and your behaviors. Yeah.
Okay. Our next question is what do I do if my school stopped offering SATs and actsh, so I believe that you can, I mean, I personally didn’t take the sat or act through my school. I took it kind of externally. Um, there should be areas in your city where you sign up for SATs or [00:12:00] actsh. Um, so you can. By all means like go online.
They have a bunch of practice that’s online. You can still practice. Um, if you’re able to sign up and still take it. That’s great. Um, we also know that due to COVID, the circumstances have changed a little bit scores are being a lot, um, while they are still very, very important, they’re being considered, um, in a different way than they used to be because, um, going forward, they might be optional and there’s some talks that they might get rid of the sat or act, um, in general.
And so, um, I think that if you can find a place to take the sat or act and do that self studying, um, it can go a long way. Now that being said, it might not necessarily break your application. If you are unable to take it. If, if it ends up being. That’s a good point. I think if, if, uh, you have the chance to do so and invest a bit of time to studying, I think it is, it can be something to bolster your application, especially if you fall into, so see with the upper [00:13:00] echelon of scores or even between the 25th and 75th percentile, that’s usually a pretty good benchmark to include your score because it’s likely going to shore up your application.
Um, but, uh, as to, to Julia Julia’s point, um, likely this year, I will, I believe it will continue to be optional. So don’t, don’t fret, uh, if, if you have difficulty finding a place for it or finding the time to prep it for that. Okay. Our next question is what activity did you choose to write on the develop an extracurricular activity?
Harvard question, do you have to go. Oh, man. I’m trying to remember this. Could you answer? Yeah, totally, totally. Um, so, um, I believe this is the, I think it’s at a 150 words or 250 words of what, um, of please further elaborate and one of your extracurriculars. Um, so for mine, I wrote about being the captain of the tennis team.
Um, and I mainly focused on [00:14:00] the, the friendships that I formed, um, throughout my four years on the team. Um, and, and the lessons that I learned from playing tennis. Yeah. That’s, this is a blue ticket back on the application. I believe I wrote about, um, this a club that was part of called destination imagination.
That was a great time. Basically. I, it was, uh, you know, a team-based activity that I had risen through the ranks from a team member to leading a team of younger students. So just kind of talked about that progression in my growth through the organization and what did it taught me and what it felt like to give back to it.
Um, as I went into my later.
Our next question is, um, if you put down an undecided on the application, are you less likely to get into Harvard? I don’t think so to my, to my, to my knowledge. Um, I think a lot, a whole lot of people come in undecided and even those who claim they are decided, [00:15:00] uh, will with time I, a huge proportion of people will shift their concentration.
Oftentimes just because they took one class or you met one professor that kind of, you know, change it all in, in their, in their mind’s eye. So I have really putting down undecided just shows that you’re open to opportunities and different possibilities and just take heart in the fact that some people do come in, didn’t even know what they want to do anyway.
So I think it’s perhaps best to be honest. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think, um, in that vein it’s, it’s kinda tricky to say. At all times, especially with the school like Harvard, oh, this thing will, will lower your chances of getting old. This thing will increase your chances because they really are taking, um, a very, very wide range of people with a very, very wide range of interests.
So they, they’re going to want a certain number of undecided students. And they’re also going to want a certain number of, of decided students. And you never really know which from year to year what they’re, what they’re looking for. Um, and so I would say if you have, there’s a section where you can indicate your interest, if you are interested in, [00:16:00] in any sort of discipline, um, I might consider exploring that, especially if it fits in with your candidate profile, um, and you don’t know what that means.
Um, Get a CollegeAdvisor. And we’ll talk about it a little bit more, a little quick little plug right there. Um, but, but yeah, so, so I would say, you know, if you were totally undecided, that’s totally okay. And if you have some interests, but you’re not certain totally fine. I think I put sociology, um, as one of my, and like, I think that’s like English on my application and I didn’t end up doing either of those.
Um, I took classes in both of those and I really, really enjoyed them, but I didn’t end up concentrating in them. Um, so, so yeah, yeah, yeah. As Julia said, one thing that having a college advisor can really help with is it doesn’t hurt your application. If you say you’re undecided, as long as there is some sort of narrative for an admissions officer to sort of latch on to.
So if they look at your activities list and your essays and the classes that you chose to take, and they still get a [00:17:00] sense of who you are as a student and as a member of community, then it’s not going to hurt you.
Okay, our next question is any do’s and don’ts for the application process from your experience. Ooh do’s and don’ts very interesting. Um, I would say, and this is a general general note for really all schools. Um, when you’re applying for a school, you, you want to really show your best self. Um, and so, so I think on the essays, especially I think focus, um, some students will think that their scores are the most important that their grades are the most important things, but actually your essays are becoming more and more important.
Um, and those letter of recommendations, if you’re a freshmen, sophomore, junior, even. Don’t sleep on those recommendations and don’t sleep on. Um, you can worry about the essays later, if you’re your freshman, sophomore, junior, but be thinking early on who you want to [00:18:00] write those letter of recommendations, because they can go a really, really long way.
Um, that those letter wrecks are the only ways that admissions officers can see what other people think of you. Um, which is, which is very, very important in the application process. Um, a teacher saying this is the most amazing student I’ve ever worked with is very we’ll. We’ll buy. Sets you apart from the students that, um, the letters that say, oh, this is a good student.
So if you can go in and talk to teachers, go and inform this close band, not just because, um, you want a good letter X, but also because teachers, teachers are cool, um, and you can find, or you can find a great teacher. Um, and if you, if you are able to make that connection, it will really, really help on your applications.
Um, and then also just don’t sleep on the essays. Um, they’re, they’re really, really important. Um, and we can also, if you get a college advisor that can help you, um, sort of crack that with your, with your narrative, um, with your candidate profile, um, and help you really stand out on the application process.
Yeah. To go more into the like supplementary [00:19:00] essays or essays, of course, being your, your, your, your coming up essay, which is that 650 word. The chemo and then you’re supplementing. And so for supplementary essays, I would say Nico’s as specific as possible to the school who you can or tie in like tidbits about the school, wherever you can.
And if you can somehow like form a relationship with the school, like maybe you, you got to visit pre COVID or, or, you know, nowadays, um, or you just find, find something that really spoke to you or professor that whose work really resonates with your interests. Like, just mention that in there and just put in those specific like nuggets, um, as, as much as possible, because that really shows you did your research.
One, one big joke that I hear or have heard a group again from, uh, admissions officers. Really make sure that the essay that you wrote, like couldn’t be copied and pasted to a different school and, you know, be, be acceptable, uh, make sure that it’s very, very unique to the school. End of course, make sure that you ideally, you won’t be copying and pasting to make [00:20:00] sure that the names of the schools are always right for the, for the, uh, school of you’re applying to,
I don’t have any typos also because grammar, cause it’ll, it’ll they’ll that will make them think that you didn’t spend time on your applications, even if you spent hours and hours and hours made sure there’s no typos. If you get other eyes on it too. Yeah. Have, have like two teachers take a look at it just for like grammatical mistakes.
I’m all your English teachers do it. Um, okay. Our next question is how can we know and check how much financial aid we can get from Harvard?
That’s a great question. So I think, um, So as, as, as I think Julie referenced in an earlier slide, um, yes, very cool. Awesome. Um, so those are all the all important documents that, um, [00:21:00] that, uh, we need to submit for consideration for financial aid and, um, Harvard’s aid is need based of course, um, meaning that they will fulfill a hundred percent of demonstrated need.
Um, so, and for many, many students, it is free or close to free to, or cheaper than their, um, state university to attend, which is awesome. Um, and I believe you can calculate that on, on line using the net price calculator, uh, which can, you know, you can put in, uh, like annual income assets, et cetera, and it will, uh, you know, uh, uh, what you could expect to pay for eight year or semesters worth of tuition.
Um, so that’s a great way to ballpark what you, um, uh, can expect in your financial aid. Yeah. And then just to add on to that. So if you just Google like financial aid calendar, call it, I mean, calculator a calendar called college. Um, you’ll be able to find that. And then if you have specific questions, um, I highly recommend going online and going to the financial aid website for Harvard.
And there are people there who will help you [00:22:00] directly. There’s emails that you can reach out to. Um, even if you just have general questions, there’s, you can call the admissions office, you can call the people in the financial aid office and they’ll help you. Yeah. And one other thing is that Harvard is need, need blind and in the process, which means that your financial aid status won’t affect your admission at all.
Um, so that’s just one other thing, too. One other thing to be aware of. So you don’t have to worry about like, oh, like, will they see that I acquire aid? They won’t consider that at all, as they’re considering whether to admit you. Okay, our next question is, how do I know my essays are good enough? That’s a good question that come to CollegeAdvisor.
Um, so sorry. Um, I would say it’s, it’s hard. It’s hard to know. Um, I think it’s really helpful if you can get a second pair of eyes on your essay, whether that is a trusted friend, whether that is a [00:23:00] teacher, multiple teachers, whether that’s a parent, um, that being said, everyone’s going to have different opinions on your essay.
Um, so sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen can be dangerous. Um, and sometimes getting that feedback and most of the time getting that feedback is really, really helpful. Um, I would say it’s, it’s very, very helpful. If you have someone that you can show your essay that has been through the college application process either recently, or has read a lot of college applications.
So even if that’s not. Specifically advisor from CollegeAdvisor. If you have a friend that graduated from college, that does a lot, that reads a lot of essays, um, that kind of thing. Um, just getting that external feedback and be really helpful because sometimes when you’re staring at your essay and you’re staring at it and you’re staring at it, you don’t realize, um, some of these things that other people reading it for the first time, um, might realize one of the pieces of advice that our head of advising Lauren says.
Um, your essay should almost be like something that you feel like you could tell to a total stranger, because at the end of [00:24:00] the day, the total stranger is reading it. Um, which means that you need to be engaging. You want to tell a story that isn’t just, you spilling out all of your stats because you’d never go up to a total stranger and be like, did you know that I’m the captain of the swimming team?
And I live in the like, and I volunteer 37 hours a day and I like read 499 books last year. You would ever really do that. You would, you would tell them and make your story that maybe if you wanted to impress them, you might like work in those, those facts in a way that was very organic. But you, you, you really do want to tell a good story, develop a good narrative and then do your best to stand out.
Um, and those, those are the essays that, you know, if you have a really good hook, you have a really good ending. Can make your, they always say, if you can make your admissions officer laugh and cry in an essay, like you don’t necessarily have to do that, but I’m bringing, you’re bringing your best self to the essay.
Um, we’ll, we’ll make it as we’ll make it better. That’s a good point. I think also make the essay characteristically you like, if you [00:25:00] dropped it on the floor and friend picked it up, they’d be like, oh, like that’s what does that say? Like, of course it is like, I just know that’s her voice. So I think if, if you can, and I think that’s a great thing to have a friend be able to gauge, or, you know, a teacher, if you have somebody say to you, you know, somebody who went to a school that you’re trying to apply to, or.
You know, it just has a really good sense of that, that process, again, as a college grad, like that’s a great way to do it. I think also back to the do’s and don’ts one other thing I would advise against doing this, like comparing like your essay to up the things you find online, or like, um, like for example, like college confidential, this a place that I don’t wish anybody visit, but like just, you know, avoiding like posting it and getting feedback or like, like, you know, God, I need to compare it to other people’s stuff.
Like just, it should be you talk to people, you know, and trust. Like, I think that’s the best way to go about it. Yeah. I, I also think, um, I do think having friends look at it as great, but I think there is a bit of like [00:26:00] maybe. Give it to other friends applying to college and then read there. Isn’t like everyone read each other’s because then I think you can be like, wait, should my essay be like her essay?
Like her essay is this, but my essay is that like, is, am I doing it wrong? Like, you’re probably not doing it wrong. So yeah. Get people get people’s eyes on it. You trust. But, um, as Julia said, you don’t wanna, you don’t want everyone in the whole world’s eyes on it because then everyone will have an opinion.
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. If you’re going to get a friend, I would recommend getting an older friend who’s already gone through the process. Okay. Our next question is when are Harvard students expected to choose a major? And is it true that you can’t declare a major when applying, so you can clearly go ahead.
Oh, so, um, do you remember the first part of the questionnaire? So. I’m not sure if you can do, if you can. I think you could, [00:27:00] uh, you could have a great idea of what you want to do and just start, you know, right off the bat, taking classes in that area. I think you formally declare by November of your sophomore year.
So you get a full year to kind of just, you know, figure out what’s going on and then come sophomore fall. It’s time to make that official declaration, which, you know, combines meet or entails like meeting with, uh, an advisory in that department. And, uh, you know, just kind of squaring away, your course schedule for the next, uh, few semesters.
Yeah. Now that being said, if you do not know immediately what you want to do, you can declare freshman year, if you would like, and which is very rare, but some people do. And, and if you have absolutely no idea what you want to do, um, if you were like me and you were pre-med and then you decided to go into the arts, um, you can switch your major.
So I was actually history and science concentrator, um, for freshmen, sophomore, um, Freshmen and sophomore year I was, I was pre-med so that wasn’t till junior year. And so then junior year I switched [00:28:00] concentrations. Um, it will be quite a bit of work, especially if you went from a joint concentration to another joint concentration.
Um, but, but it’s absolutely doable. And I yet I’ve even seen people and I wouldn’t recommend this, but I have even seen people switch up to their senior spring, um, switch concentrations. Now, if you’re going to do that, hopefully you have already re re uh, done all the requirements and it’s because you realize, oh, I already felt the requirements for this.
And I liked this better. I want to switch. Um, but, but you can switch at any point, as long as you take all the courses required to graduate.
Okay. Our next question is who can I get letters of recommendation from? I was homeschooled after my freshman year, so I only have a couple teachers letters of recommendation. So. Oh, no, I was gonna say that’s a great question. Um, so I’m not sure that’s uh, Hm. [00:29:00] I think, well, if you’re involved in any like activities, are there, I mean, I, I’m not sure what your specific situation is, but if you have, if there’s like other adults to interact with, um, so you do volunteering or something like that, like, and they can speak well to your character and they might have provide a different, um, different insight, maybe not as much into your academic focus, but maybe some of your, your, your driver, your passions outside the classroom, but can also be, uh, uh, a great angle there.
Um, did Juliana, if you have any more specifics, I was just going to say generally, um, this is not quite answering questions, but generally when asked to teachers, um, hopefully in varying disciplines, but doesn’t have to be from your junior year. This is more for other students, as I saw someone else asked this question as well.
Um, and then also your guidance counselor. Slash college counselor at your school. Um, but I, I do believe that if you were homeschooled, I think I would actually recommend maybe going on to the Harvard website and asking, um, or, or just generally going [00:30:00] on on common app, they might have some answers there because this is a really specific situation.
Um, but I, I second what Sophie said, I think I, I would honestly recommend choosing someone from your extracurriculars. Um, also for people that are, that do go to go to a public or private school and have, um, teachers to ask, you can also get supplemental, um, letters of recommendation from activities. Um, those aren’t going to be as long or as in-depth, and they might not even read them, but, but those are also sort of on the table.
Okay. Our next question is how do you manage the workload at Harvard with your job, personal life and extracurriculars? What’s the thing about like, choose to, Ooh, what a good social life sleep. Um, this, every, I think every student at Harvard is going to have a different answer for this question. Um, back when I was pre-med I was taking five courses, [00:31:00] um, in order to be able to take theater and music classes too.
And then I was also like writing and producing shows on the side, but then I would volunteer hospitals. I was doing like pre-med and art stuff. And to be honest, I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t, it was, it was a crazy time, I would say like my, my main tips are just stay ahead of schedule as well as you can, um, make lists or calendars or find something that works so that you don’t forget to do things because when things start to pile up, which they often do for harvest sins that are just taking on and taking on and taking on, um, It’s really helpful to have something that will hold either, like holds you accountable or remind you to, to do the things that you need to do.
Now, that being said, I know means when you get to college, do not feel compelled to do what you might’ve done in high school, which is do the most, the most, the most when you get to college, you don’t, there’s no need to, um, to, to overload. And I think that’s a mistake that a lot of, um, underclassmen make is that they get to a new school and they want to take on a million different things.
I would say, [00:32:00] especially your freshmen fall, like ease into it because college is a huge adjustment. Um, you’re gonna be living by yourself perhaps for the first time, maybe not. Um, but there’s, it’s, it’s, you’re in a new place, your new environment. And that, that in and of itself is a lot. And so I would say honestly, take it, take it easy.
Um, when you, when you, when you first, when you first start out and then you can start adding stuff on, when you get more comfortable, um, You know, as much as you can try to stay ahead of schedule, try to try to get some sleep. It’s hard in college. You know, it’s really hard, but try to get some sleep, um, find time to exercise, find time to, even if it that’s just sitting down for a meal, put away your notes and, you know, unwind it’s, it’s, it’s easier said than done.
Um, which is why I recommend, you know, that you, then you ease into it your first year, um, because things can and will pick up as you go. That’s a lot of good advice. Yeah, for sure. I, one, one thing that I stuck to [00:33:00] where I had to make my, tried to be by credo is just to make, make meals, purely social opportunities.
And then that’s, that’s a really good way to have some free time throughout your tech peppered throughout your day and something you can put forward to. Um, also as it, yeah, like finding a tool that works for you, there’s 1,000,001 organizational tools for me, Google calendar kind of could do it all. So that’s kind of what I’ve been relying on.
Just live and breathe by the G cow. Um, but you know, Eddie, there’s so many other things you could use, like, uh, Trello notes, et cetera. There’s many, many tools that you can look and do that are just very good for organizing your digital and physical life. Um, but similarly, like finding opportunities to study with friends, which sometimes can lead to, you know, lapses and critical, but those are great ways to, you know, sometimes it’s important to buckle down and do things like work by yourself.
Finding ways to kind of, uh, integrate, um, you know, that kind of [00:34:00] social aspect into, uh, into what can otherwise be. Maybe a test log of, uh, uh, uninterrupted work time is, uh, a good way to go about it, um, as well. But, uh, similarly to what Julie was saying too, I think being very intentional about things you choose in your first, especially first semester, um, is also very important.
And I remember meeting somebody my freshman year, who only did one activity her whole time. Oh, I just love this. And that was like, all I really want to do. And she was like, oh, that’s so strange. Like she didn’t, you know, you want to take advantage of many, many opportunities, but I think that what she was smart and realizing like what she liked to do and found a really good, uh, balance between schoolwork and job and this kind of one activity that you love.
So I think everyone has different approaches going into it, but definitely be mindful of, you know, uh, time, time for yourself and time to adjust, uh, as you transitioned into. Yeah. And don’t feel pressure to take the hardest classes just because everybody else you feel like everybody else is doing it. [00:35:00] Um, taking classes to push yourself is fantastic.
And if you’re really interested in a subject, you really want to take that class. Fantastic. Um, but you know, if, if you’re just doing it because you see a lot of first years that are just trying to take these hard classes, just to say, oh, I took these hard classes. Um, but, but then, you know, sometimes their mental health can really suffer because they’re spending all their time studying for these classes while they see their friends now having fun.
Um, so, so take the classes that you’re interested in, um, and, and take it easy as you go in. Okay. Our next question is, does Harvard give merit based scholarships if you don’t qualify for need-based. So there aren’t any, to my, uh, to my knowledge, you, you can’t upon coming in there won’t be any merit based aid, just because most people are usually at a high level of academic, but there’s not really a scholarship is getting into Harvard.
I know that’s the extent. So [00:36:00] there’s yeah, there’s no, no opportunities coming in for merit based aid. That being said, you can, of course plow apply to a plethora of, uh, other, other scholarships online, um, to, uh, hopefully kind of supplement that, um, and assist financially in that way, in that regard. Um,
okay. Our next question is I’m a sophomore in high school. When should I begin the application process? It’s already begun here. There you go. You started it. I do really mean it though. When I say it has already begun. Um, when you are applying to college, you will put, um, you’ll fill out a form that basically talks about your extracurriculars.
Um, and a lot of, um, the, your admissions officers are gonna look for depth and they’re going to look for commitment. And so that means that, um, right now it’s time to start finding the things that you’re interested in. [00:37:00] Um, because those are the things that you might invest the next two years in a year and a half in, and then put ultimately on your activity sheet.
Um, so if you are a little bit interested in an instrument or in a sport or in a specific club, it’s time to like start, start, really showing a commitment, try to. See, if you can get a leadership position in those clubs as, as your time goes on show, it’s showing a lot of commitment and finding those passions is what’s going to really stand out to the admissions officers that are looking for students who are really passionate, um, about one or more things.
Um, and so, you know, if you’re able to volunteer and you really, really enjoy that, you love playing sports. If you love doing music, you know, all of these different clubs, even if it’s a random club that no one else does. Like, I can’t think of any like archery or something really specific. That could be fantastic if you really show your passion.
Um, And so it’s, you know, even freshman year, you can start building up, um, your experience and your [00:38:00] involvement in those extracurriculars. And then also you can even start thinking of, um, this is more, I guess, if you, I’m not sure if you’re a rising sophomore or rising, or you finished off where you’re a rising junior, but if you are rising junior, um, again, just pushing this extra, uh, those, those letters of recommendation, I’m thinking that teachers, um, is, is really, really fantastic.
Um, so yeah, that’s what. Yeah, that’s a great point. I think, um, also if there’s an opportunity, like as a sophomore, you have plenty of time left to make an impact in the school. And if there’s somebody that you, you know, you, you wish to see in the school, you could create like new, clever new opportunity for yourself to maybe even lead into a leadership to the finance show some initiative in that way.
So you’ve got plenty of time there. Um, also I would say sophomore year is like an awesome time to just, you know, with minimal pressure start thinking about the kinds of schools you’re interested in, like go and drive around, see a bunch of local schools drive, like, go visit it on like a family trip, go see a school farther flung, and just [00:39:00] kind of get into that vibe.
And that’s a really awesome time where you can, you know, you won’t get, you can be super stressed. You’ve got a bunch of time. You can just go check out a bunch of different campuses and just see, like, what do I like? What, what piques my interest in terms of campus size, campus, locale, um, you know, student body size, uh, et cetera, There’s uh, there’s, there’s a lot of opportunities there to really just kind of feel confident and grounded when it comes to making your college list.
Okay. Our next question is, does Harvard have V3 sports? Ooh, so Harvard is a division one school. So to be, to be just completely honest, I’m not super familiar with the sports scene at Harvard. Um, that might be a Google-able question, but Sophie, would you happen to know the answer to that? Well, I’m not particularly a sportswoman myself, but I think are kind of like three tiers of sporting are, um, there’s of course, the [00:40:00] division one athletics, which are typically recruited for the, you can, and I know many people who walked onto some teams including tracking.
Rowing sailing, et cetera, rugby that those are up. There’s a few big schools where it’s, uh, or, sorry, sorry. A big sports where it’s pretty popular or common for people to walk on. So if you have an interest there or just want to compete at a high level, you can definitely do that upon arriving. Um, there also clubs, I think I would put as the, I would bracket as the closest thing to a D three.
Um, so, uh, clips words can be pretty competitive. And, uh, there’s I played on the club, ultimate Frisbee team, which is a bit, a bit less competitive, but there are some other, there are some other teams, uh, like soccer field hockey, really for many sports have, whether it be in cricket, there’s, there’s quite a number of clubs, uh, teams that travel a good deal, but in new England, um, so you can, you, you get up typically you can get a nice harbored uniform and go play other, you know, play into your scholastically, uh, which could be a lot of fun.[00:41:00]
Uh, so that’s probably about the level of, uh, Richard and competition. You’re looking for. There’s also intramural sports, which are in between houses on campus. So basically dorms playing against each other, and those are like silly and flippant and a great time. And. Such a good time. So, and those sports were like also ultimate Frisbee soccer, inner tube, water polo.
There’s just, there’s, there’s quite a variety. So that’s kind of like, we really got a spectrum in terms of like levels of competence. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That reminded me that I did club squash for like two years before the pandemic hit. Um, I had never played squash before coming to college and I learned, um, at Harvard, uh, going to clubs, squash sessions, um, and yeah, they play against other schools.
They also have club tennis. Um, I’ve done some like intermural tennis things. Um, it’s like a great way to keep your sport up, but in a non, uh, in a, in a more casual setting.[00:42:00]
Okay. Our next question is what could be a hindrance to your application and how do you avoid it as well as what, if you have attended multiple schools during your high school career, will that affect me badly?
Two part question. So I would say for the, for the second part, if you are, um, still able to make that impact at different schools, it won’t affect your application badly because there’ll be able to see if you’re a strong leader. You’ll be a strong leader, no matter where you go. If you’re a passionate writer, you’ll be a passionate writer wherever you go.
Um, I would say that that when you, um, at whatever school you’re currently at, if you can try to make that impact or try to form those bonds with those teachers who are going to write your letter, I’m back to letter Rex again. Um, but, but if you can make that impact or, or, or show that commitment in those specific places, that’s a really that’s, um, something that can, that, [00:43:00] that will positively impact your application regardless of the amount of schools that you’ve gone to.
Um, If, if that’s a part of your application narrative, that can be something you write your essay on. You know, that can be something that you include in a supplemental as even if it’s not your main essay, um, that moving to different schools is, is a part of who you are. And it’s a part of your application narrative at the end of the day.
So, um, you know, you might even trying to make the best event say like, well, this really contributed to who I ended up becoming. Maybe I will already, I’m asking about this. Um, so, so I don’t think is inherently going to hurt you. Um, and then regarding things that are inherently bad, um, on, on applications, um, anything immediate come to mind, Sophie, just thinking, um, Kevin grades, grades, the grades are a foot in the door, so, so, um, Great great grades.
Won’t get you into a school, but they’ll get your foot in the [00:44:00] door. So if you, if you don’t have, um, as, as you saw here, the average GPA is 3.9. If your GPA is significantly below this, um, it’s, it’ll be, it’ll be tricky. It’ll be hard. If your act score, your sat score significantly below. Um, if can test optional, maybe don’t submit that test if you don’t submit that test score.
Um, and, and so, um, it’s definitely important to, to really focus on your grades at school, um, in high school. Yeah. That’s, that’s a good point. I think also continuing to push yourself throughout school. Like if you’re doing well, you just, you know, keep, keep advancing and trying to push yourself in terms of rigor of, of classes.
I think also just being like prudent in your essay, writing, um, just like, you know, making sure you’re writing things that couldn’t be received as. Incendiary or like, or not, you know, somebody the runway or just making sure you’re using inclusive language. And I think, uh, yeah, just, just proofread those and [00:45:00] I think have some, have some prints there.
Um, but yeah, it was very much see the second part of question. Oh, I think also attending multiple schools. Like I think that could be an asset too, because of course the admissions office will have, we’ll have that context that you, you know, went to different schools. And if you can maintain continuity, um, between those schools, like whether you’ve kept up a sport, even through that, probably difficult.
And like, where should we tough transition? I think that can speak really highly to your flexibility. Um, and also if, if you can maybe secure it like leadership position or be, uh, really make an impact at that second place where you maybe only had one or two years at this really gonna, um, showcase you and, uh, your, your abilities to make an impact, even on a shorter time.
Okay, so we’re going to take a quick break and I want to let you know what you can do if you would like to work with one of our advisors from our team of over 155 [00:46:00] advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation with us by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right of the screen from there, just write in consultation and a live team member will get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with us.
Okay. And our next question is how important are test scores this year since Harvard is test optional. Good question. So if your test scores are fantastic, send the men. If your test scores are not fantastic, don’t send them in. Um, they, they can help you. Um, If they’re great. If they’re bad, they will probably hurt you.
So, um, I think if you go online and you look up the Crimson’s article about admission statistics, you’ll be able to see, um, the amount of students that they took that were test optional. I feel it was a pretty high number. It was identically [00:47:00] 13 or 30%. And I know that’s a very like wide range. So I would, I would go verify that, but they did take a significant number of students who did not submit their scores.
Um, so while it will not make or break your application, if you are able to get those good scores, it will, it will help.
Okay. Uh, our next question is what has been your favorite class you took at Harvard so far?
I think I do, um, has lots of reflect on there. I think one, one of my favorite classes, which just speaks to the quality of, uh, Julia’s major was in theater, dance and media, which TDM for short. Um, and I class I took there was, um, he’s on a set design course. It was [00:48:00] kind of a practicum and it was taught by Mimi Leanne, who is a, a Tony award-winning set designer, worked on many, a Broadway show.
And I was a huge fan of hers. And I learned that she was coming to teach and I was like, oh my goodness. Like I must take this class. And fortunately, I get to the untrained. I have really very minimal affiliation with, with the department. Um, and nonetheless, they still let me in, it was a bonkers class in which we had to make a, uh, make it.
Miniature, um, set like a D every single week for, to fit a different theme or respond to a different prompt. And, uh, it was like very involved, many, many of late sweaty night in like the basement of my dorm, like cutting styrofoam with an Exacto knife, but it was so cool. And just like her seeing her genius and wisdom in person just like gave me some to where I’m reaching for her and her craft.
Um, and of course, while all this is so tangential to like stuff I’m doing [00:49:00] academically, it was just like, truly like an incredible experience and is maybe approach theater and art with such a different, uh, more precise eyes. So I, that was a really special experience and something that I’m so thankful to the school for bringing her in, uh, just kind of genius in your field, uh, and getting to work with her there.
Yeah. That’s one of the things about Harvard is that they’ll bring in some incredible people, like whatever you’re interested in, they have the connections to, to bring that to, to potentially bring that person in, to teach a class, which can be so cool. You can be literally taking classes from some of the people that have you’ve idolized, your whole life.
Um, is it bad that I have like four answers? I can’t go for it. Three different categories. So hopefully this will help you with multiple interests. So, um, the first class that came to mind is, is the language, language courses at Harvard. I, I I’ve been taking Korean for the last two years and I love like the language department at Harvard is [00:50:00] fantastic.
Um, it is like, it’s, it’s just going to be a small class. You make friends with people in your class, the teachers are all amazing. You learn something new every day. You walk away with a tangible skill. So that, that I like is one of my favorite classes. Um, second I would say. There is an amazing history class.
I took my freshman year taught by professor Caroline light. Um, and I think the name is different now, but when I was taking it, it was essentially a class where they taught us history. But from the point of view of all the people that didn’t win the wars, all the people that didn’t write the textbooks, um, and you learn the kind of things that you would never learn in your typical us history class at, um, in high school, um, which was just so illuminating and really religious expanded my worldview.
Um, the third thing is I took an applied physics class, um, where you learn. Physics. And then you worked in group projects and built things based on the physics that you were learning. So like one of my group, we built a ukulele or we built like these little like rubber band [00:51:00] cars that you like Slingshot and like you’d have competitions, like whose instrument sounds the best or like whose car can like go to the furthest.
Um, and like we need Rube Goldberg machines and that was great. So much fun. And I got to know my classmates because we were doing group projects. Um, and it really felt like we were taking physics and like applying it, which is like what applied physics should always be. Um, and then the, my last standard class would be, um, also a TDM class.
Um, called the making of a musical where we got to learn from, um, Tony winning a Tony award winning director, Diane Paulus, and Ryan paycheck from the American repertory theater, which is connected to Harvard. Um, if anyone has Harvard questions, I mean, theater questions, please do reach out to me, um, later on or whatever.
And, and cause I love, I can talk about that for hours. Um, and, and that was a course where we basically just got to dissect all the musicals at the American repertory theater had developed, um, and sent off to Broadway and then just hearing how they had developed throughout, um, the months before they made it to Broadway.
Um, so, so yeah, it was, those are my fourth [00:52:00] favorites. Okay. This might not be the most fair question, but I’ve gotten a few, like it’s, I’m going to ask it anyway. What part of the application do you think got you into Harvard? Have you looked at your admissions file? So.
Yeah. So, so when you, when you, um, once you’re at Harvard, you can request to view your file, which is basically you get to a full sheet of comments of what the people who read your application, thought what the people who interviewed you thought. Um, and so you’ll, you’ll basically get to get to see what, why you got in.
Um, and so for me, I think it was my extracurriculars, um, and my interview. Um, so for extracurriculars, I think. Uh, like a pretty wide spread of, um, of, or like my three main focuses were sports, volunteering and music. Um, and so, so for music, I did a lot of composition and I, I played [00:53:00] in a bunch of music groups.
Um, I did like musical theater at school. And so that was my, one of my main passions. Um, and then, um, there was, I did tennis, um, as I mentioned earlier, um, and then, uh, starting in like eighth grade, I had been volunteering with this organization and I eventually went on to founding, um, junior board and where we were really, really focused on it.
So those were kind of my three main passions that I really tried to emphasize on my application. And so I think that, um, according to the file, you’re not supposed to talk about his wife, but, um, but yeah. Yeah. So, so that that’s, um, I think I saw, I think it was the extracurriculars for me. Um, but. It’s, you know, it’s really hard to say.
Um, at the end of the day, it’s, it’s really hard to say for anybody why anyone gets into any college. I’ll give a much more speculative answer because I’ve been too chicken to look at my file, but, um, I think lightly for me, um, I, I think it was probably, um, letters of recommendation [00:54:00] was one thing where I had like few like close to like, uh, let’s use with some teachers that I think likely came through in, uh, letters is 1, 1, 1, please I’ll hazard a guess.
Um, and also I think like interview definitely recall, uh, just, you know, going into, going into an interview with, um, just, uh, You know, trying to, uh, be as authentic as possible. Obviously you can’t control who the other, who the interviewer is, or like what, uh, what they’re bringing to the table, but just going in with an open mind and trying to really find areas of similar interests that you can kind of get going into.
And, uh, of course, you’ll talk about your, um, application or kind of more, uh, uh, w the conversation will be oriented around, uh, you know, things that you didn’t learn in school, but maybe try to pick out the T be curious about like, things that they do, what do they do? Um, where have they gone after school and try to like, find some commonalities [00:55:00] there.
So maybe you can have a discussion that you didn’t leads away from, uh, you know, yourself, your, uh, your candidate profile, et cetera. Uh, just, uh, so you can really try to connect with that person one-on-one and I think that will reflect well and, uh, in the admissions process. Okay. Our next question is how would you describe the community atmosphere?
Um, depends on which circles you’re in really, really, really depends. Um, if you choose to hang out in the theater circles, it’s going to be very different than if you’re an athlete. It’s going to be very different than if you’re in a final club. Um, but I would say overall, Harvard has a lot of really high achievers, which is really, really cool.
Um, it can be really scary at some times. Um, but, but ultimately really, really cool when everyone around you is really, really passionate about something, um, or multiple things. Um, so I think you can definitely be intense at times. Um, [00:56:00] but that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you mean.
That’s true. And I think one place that I found comfort in was that everybody is very high achieving and motivated, but often in very different ways. So it’s kind of hard to compare yourself directly to one-to-one to 100% maybe sometimes you’re contending for, you know, a fellowship or a job or something like that.
That comes more with time and down a lot. But, um, in the moment, like everyone’s just very motivated by three different things. And it’s working for, you know, doing, doing different research, taking different classes. There’s sometimes you might have some overlap. So it’s really difficult because everyone’s path is so unique.
It’s, it’s kind of hard to. It’s not like everyone’s in this kind of like den of competition and like, you can get it for like a top spot. Cause it’s just so possible to compare students and like their different coursework. So I think I’ve been able to more like delight in learning things from peers, or like they’ve been able to, or just, um, taking January curiosity, like, oh, like what are you up to?
I don’t really know. Like I haven’t taken classes in those [00:57:00] kinds of things. So I think there is a lot of just, you know, uh, exchange of knowledge between like students who study and love different things. So I found it really refreshing in that way and like less, um, of course there is always the pressure of like, oh, so-and-so is doing such great things like abstractly there, you know, they have startup, whatever.
Um, but I think there at the end of the day, there was just a lot of great opportunities to connect with other people. And people are generally speaking, like really happy to help you, uh, with different things. Even here I’m working on this. I’m upset or something like that, like learn are pretty empathetic and, um, community oriented.
Okay. I think this is going to be our last question, but what advice would you give to your past self about the admissions process?
Don’t stress out so much.
Um, it can be very [00:58:00] stressful. Thinking about college, applying to college, it feels like it’s the end of the world. Um, it feels like it’s like get into college and that’s it. That’s your whole life, but that’s actually the beginning. It’s the very beginning. Um, so rather than stressing about all the things you have to do, find the things that you’re really excited to do.
So if you are really, really excited to write that novel, that you’ve been planning. Write that novel. And don’t think about, I have to write a novel to get into college, but it was like thinking about like finding the things that you know, that you, that you want to do. Um, and when you are doing the things that you’re passionate about and that you really like, and when you find those things, it’s just, it’s just better.
It’s just so much more fun and, and it’ll show and it’ll, it’ll help you shine ultimately. So the less you stress about forcing yourself to do things that you don’t actually want to do and focus on the things that you really, really do want to do the better of a time you’ll have. And the better your [00:59:00] application will be every day.
Totally. I, similarly, I, back back in the day when I was applying to schools, I applied to way too many, well, well, over 20 possibly approaching, just because I was so stressed. And I was like, kind of make sure that all the bases covered. And of course there is some comfort in that maybe, but just keep it, you know, keep it tight and tidy really, really, you know, cause yourself I’m like, what, what, where do I want to be?
What are, what are maybe some 12 to 15 good options you can apply to? And just don’t, don’t stress yourself out. Don’t, don’t go way too overboard because you, you want to be able to enjoy particularly that holiday break, where. Really, you know, schedule, schedule yourself, just know just, um, it’s, it’s a lot to do with over long period of time and, you know, wherever you are right now, in terms of like where you are in your, your college classes, just like stop to orient yourself and like, think, okay, where, [01:00:00] where, where am I right now?
Where do I have to be? What can I do in a day to get there? What can I do in a week to get there? And it can seem super daunting, but yeah, just, just breathe and get constant. Like, do you want me to really good point? Just constantly keep thinking, like, what do I want to do? Just be curious, be asking people, like, what do you do?
What are you up to? What, like adults, superiors people in your, in your life who are doing different things, just constantly be thinking about the next step and, well, not, not to the point that it’s suffocating, but just think about like, oh, like, you know, there’s life after college. There’s a life in college.
Like what things do I want to try now that are within my reach now, but what can I learn about to, you know, get myself, uh, thinking. Career or a future schooling or just, you know, keep your, keep, always keep your eyes and ears open because you can learn something from it. Everybody. Absolutely. Well, that feels like a great place to stop.
Thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and thank you both so much for presenting. Okay. [01:01:00] So this is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time telling you about Harvard and here’s the rest of our August series. So tomorrow we have our NYC schools panel. So we have presenters from Barnard, Columbia, and NYU NYC schools panel, New York city.
Anyway, thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and have a great night.