How Hard is it to Get Into Harvard?

Getting into college can be difficult, but what about getting into Harvard University? Is it really as difficult as they say? Well, yes – it is quite tough to get accepted to Harvard! Here’s why and how you can work to increase your chances of getting an acceptance letter from this Ivy League.

How Hard is it To Get into Harvard?

Flickr user Ian Lamont

Harvard University is one of the most difficult schools to get accepted to in the United States. Harvard College, the school for undergraduates, had an acceptance rate of only 5% in the 2020 admissions cycle. Out of the 40,248 applications they received, a mere 2,015 would be accepted. Just under 70% would take Harvard’s offer, too, and attend the Ivy League the following fall.

Why Is It So Difficult?

It’s so difficult to get into Harvard because of the sheer number of well-equipped and well-educated students trying to get in! The school regularly ranks in the top 5 in the country and employers are impressed if you have a degree from there. So, there’s no doubt that thousands of students like yourself try to get in each year.

Harvard simply doesn’t have the room to accept the over 40,000 applicants, even if every single one surpassed the expectations of the admissions board!

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Accepted to Harvard?

Going above and beyond is one of the best ways you can increase your chances of getting an acceptance letter from Harvard University. Here are a few tips:

Work On Your GPA

Most schools use a weighted 4.0 GPA scale, and the average for accepted Harvard students is 4.18! That means you have to work extra hard to get straight A’s, on top of taking difficult classes to show you can handle the workload. They’re looking for students who are at the top of their graduating class.

That doesn’t mean you won’t get accepted if you don’t have a GPA above 4.0, but you will have to work a little extra in other areas. Keep in mind whether or not your school uses a weighted or unweighted GPA, too.

Improve Your ACT or SAT

The ACT or SAT isn’t like an IQ test. There is room for improvement. And Harvard is looking for an ACT Composite of 33 to 36 or an SAT Combined of 1,460 to 1,570. If your GPA is a little lower, you can make up some points here by scoring extremely well.

Participate in Extracurriculars

Competitive schools like the Ivy Leagues aren’t just looking for top grades – they want to see you giving back to your community and participating in things outside of the classroom. Join clubs, sports, or other programs you’re interested in – even during your downtime, like during the summer – and put in the legwork. You should be aiming to show off your achievements while also reaching important positions like those in leadership.

Put In Extra Effort With Your Application

Even if you’ve checked off the last three boxes, that doesn’t mean you should phone it in on your application. You need a solid submission to still impress the admissions department, and they will notice if you don’t put your best foot forward.

That means preparing for the admissions interview, honing your college essay, and asking teachers or professionals you trust and know the work you’ve put in to write your letters of recommendation. They use the Common App so you can get a head start by knowing what they’re asking for ahead of time.

Getting into Harvard, or any of the Ivy Leagues for that matter, is no easy feat. Taking steps as soon as possible though can help increase your chances of getting that coveted acceptance letter.

Curious about Harvard University, your admissions chances? Here’s what to expect if you get accepted? Check out our page on the school to get all the information you need.

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