The Student Room Group

Advice please: Application to Harvard

Hi guys,
I'm studying at A level history, politics and sociology. At GCSE I achieved a relatively poor 2 A*s, 4 A's, 4 B's (but that is good when contextualised to my background and high school), then 4 A's at As level and I am predicted 3 A*s at A level.

I have received an offer for Oxford for history - yet I always wanted to apply to Harvard. However, my college gave me little support (basically, they didn't know) in guiding me towards applying to Harvard, and my parents etc were unsure also of the process.

I've done some research into the of application process, but I would like some help/guidance into how to apply to harvard, is it worth it etc.

I know the acceptance rate is around 7% so I would like an honest opinion into whether it's worth it - bearing in mind my Oxford offer, is there any difference in standing between a degree at Oxford and a degree at Harvard? Also, will my GCSE's count against me?

Thank you
I'd have a look on https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-process/international-applicants
https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-requirements

You'll have to do the SAT tests as well.
If you look at world league tables Harvard does rank slightly higher than Oxford but i guess it depends what you're planning to do with your degree. I'd say it's definitely worth applying and go from there..

Also I'd make sure that you have enough money to go to Harvard...in the event that your family don't have loads of money you'd be looking at around $50,000 for fees, then living costs/accomodation costs/airfare/heath insurance... it's alot more money to spend to go there where as you could stay in the UK, pay less for the actual degree and be eligible for student loans..

It's really your choice.. If you want to spend an extra 40,000 for a piece of paper from a slightly more prestigious institution thats your choice. (literally look at it like Harvard is the waitrose and Oxford is the Marks and Spencers)
This is a UK site so you may not get the responses you need here. The application info can be found online. I don't think US unis have entry requirements like unis do in the UK so it all depends on how you compare against other candidates, your personal statement and your refs. I wouldn't worry about reputation if you have an offer from Oxford.
I'm not 100% sure but I think it's too late to apply to Harvard for 2017 entry. But if not, there's still a lot you need to consider before applying to the US. You need to have taken the SAT/ACT, SAT subject tests, filled out a CSS profile etc. Its a process that really needs to start at the beginning of year 13.

I applied and went to a US college (dropped out after a semester for personal reasons), so I can help if you have any specific questions
Reply 4
Thank you for the advice
Original post by Jackieox
I'd have a look on https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-process/international-applicants
https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-requirements

You'll have to do the SAT tests as well.
If you look at world league tables Harvard does rank slightly higher than Oxford but i guess it depends what you're planning to do with your degree. I'd say it's definitely worth applying and go from there..

Also I'd make sure that you have enough money to go to Harvard...in the event that your family don't have loads of money you'd be looking at around $50,000 for fees, then living costs/accomodation costs/airfare/heath insurance... it's alot more money to spend to go there where as you could stay in the UK, pay less for the actual degree and be eligible for student loans..

It's really your choice.. If you want to spend an extra 40,000 for a piece of paper from a slightly more prestigious institution thats your choice. (literally look at it like Harvard is the waitrose and Oxford is the Marks and Spencers)
Reply 5
Thank you. I want to go into foreign diplomacy/international policy. I likely will go to Oxford for undergrad then go to America for postgrad. I'm not overly bothered with the 'prestige', it's more the factor that I am bored of the UK and fancy a change
QUOTE=Jackieox;69853390]I'd have a look on https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-process/international-applicants
https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-requirements

You'll have to do the SAT tests as well.
If you look at world league tables Harvard does rank slightly higher than Oxford but i guess it depends what you're planning to do with your degree. I'd say it's definitely worth applying and go from there..

Also I'd make sure that you have enough money to go to Harvard...in the event that your family don't have loads of money you'd be looking at around $50,000 for fees, then living costs/accomodation costs/airfare/heath insurance... it's alot more money to spend to go there where as you could stay in the UK, pay less for the actual degree and be eligible for student loans..

It's really your choice.. If you want to spend an extra 40,000 for a piece of paper from a slightly more prestigious institution thats your choice. (literally look at it like Harvard is the waitrose and Oxford is the Marks and Spencers)
Reply 6
I was just looking for advice on University applications for American Unis like Harvard, Yale etc. (but specifically Harvard, if I'm being honest)...

I'm currently in year 11 and am predicted 11 A*s at GCSE but I know that for Universities like Harvard good grades are pretty much required anyway. I'm also aware of the ridiculous 5%-ish acceptance rates and the added difficulty of an international application - basically, my question is, is it even worth trying?

I plan to take Maths, Further Maths, History and Latin at A-Level (but am still questioning whether to substitute Latin for English Literature instead..) with the intention of hopefully applying to Oxford in 2 years for Mathematics and Philosophy (I'm doing a philosophy-based EPQ and read around the subject quite a lot).

My worry is the emphasis that American universities put on a 'well-rounded' individual; my strong suit is probably academics and I'm not really sure if I have anything like what they're looking for in terms of extra curricular activities..
I'm currently working towards grade 8 on the flute, grade 6 on the cello and grade 6/7 on the piano. In honesty, music pretty much takes up my whole life: orchestra, concert band, ensemble groups, choir... I like to debate and qualified last week for the national finals in Oxford next month (sidenote: which I'm pretty excited for, is anyone else going?). I'm part of my school's law society, and next year we'll participate in a national competition as 'barristers' in a mock trial - still yet to figure out whether law is in my future. I regularly write philosophy-based articles for the 'Thought in Action' section of my school's online magazine thing.. Following on from philosophy, I was kindly offered the role of head of my school's philosophy society. My favourite subject would probably be maths: I got the chance to represent my school at the Regional Finals of the UKMT Senior Maths Team Challenge this year and hope to perhaps progress to nationals next year. I just took the intermediate UKMT challenge today so I can't say how that went, but previous years have been okay; I've gotten through in the past, to the pink and grey kangaroo rounds but have really tried this year to qualify for the Olympiads. I'm currently taking part in GCHQ's cypher competition for girls, so we'll see how that goes (but random but oh well)! And that's pretty much everything...

I'm sorry if the above came across rather arrogant or whatever; I'm just really desperate to gage whether I should even consider an application in the future or not.. Honest opinions please!
Original post by pal04
I was just looking for advice on University applications for American Unis like Harvard, Yale etc. (but specifically Harvard, if I'm being honest)...

I'm currently in year 11 and am predicted 11 A*s at GCSE but I know that for Universities like Harvard good grades are pretty much required anyway. I'm also aware of the ridiculous 5%-ish acceptance rates and the added difficulty of an international application - basically, my question is, is it even worth trying?

I plan to take Maths, Further Maths, History and Latin at A-Level (but am still questioning whether to substitute Latin for English Literature instead..) with the intention of hopefully applying to Oxford in 2 years for Mathematics and Philosophy (I'm doing a philosophy-based EPQ and read around the subject quite a lot).

My worry is the emphasis that American universities put on a 'well-rounded' individual; my strong suit is probably academics and I'm not really sure if I have anything like what they're looking for in terms of extra curricular activities..
I'm currently working towards grade 8 on the flute, grade 6 on the cello and grade 6/7 on the piano. In honesty, music pretty much takes up my whole life: orchestra, concert band, ensemble groups, choir... I like to debate and qualified last week for the national finals in Oxford next month (sidenote: which I'm pretty excited for, is anyone else going?). I'm part of my school's law society, and next year we'll participate in a national competition as 'barristers' in a mock trial - still yet to figure out whether law is in my future. I regularly write philosophy-based articles for the 'Thought in Action' section of my school's online magazine thing.. Following on from philosophy, I was kindly offered the role of head of my school's philosophy society. My favourite subject would probably be maths: I got the chance to represent my school at the Regional Finals of the UKMT Senior Maths Team Challenge this year and hope to perhaps progress to nationals next year. I just took the intermediate UKMT challenge today so I can't say how that went, but previous years have been okay; I've gotten through in the past, to the pink and grey kangaroo rounds but have really tried this year to qualify for the Olympiads. I'm currently taking part in GCHQ's cypher competition for girls, so we'll see how that goes (but random but oh well)! And that's pretty much everything...

I'm sorry if the above came across rather arrogant or whatever; I'm just really desperate to gage whether I should even consider an application in the future or not.. Honest opinions please!

Make sure you have community service and you keep your grades up.

Do well on your SATs/ACT, SAT Subject Tests etc... and write a good common app essay/ supplementary essay and you should have a competitive application for Top American universities. But remember that it's an holistic admissions system so you might be perfect but you might still fall short because of other factors in play such as diversity etc...

Good luck :smile:
Original post by pal04
I was just looking for advice on University applications for American Unis like Harvard, Yale etc. (but specifically Harvard, if I'm being honest)...

I'm currently in year 11 and am predicted 11 A*s at GCSE but I know that for Universities like Harvard good grades are pretty much required anyway. I'm also aware of the ridiculous 5%-ish acceptance rates and the added difficulty of an international application - basically, my question is, is it even worth trying?

I plan to take Maths, Further Maths, History and Latin at A-Level (but am still questioning whether to substitute Latin for English Literature instead..) with the intention of hopefully applying to Oxford in 2 years for Mathematics and Philosophy (I'm doing a philosophy-based EPQ and read around the subject quite a lot).

My worry is the emphasis that American universities put on a 'well-rounded' individual; my strong suit is probably academics and I'm not really sure if I have anything like what they're looking for in terms of extra curricular activities..
I'm currently working towards grade 8 on the flute, grade 6 on the cello and grade 6/7 on the piano. In honesty, music pretty much takes up my whole life: orchestra, concert band, ensemble groups, choir... I like to debate and qualified last week for the national finals in Oxford next month (sidenote: which I'm pretty excited for, is anyone else going?). I'm part of my school's law society, and next year we'll participate in a national competition as 'barristers' in a mock trial - still yet to figure out whether law is in my future. I regularly write philosophy-based articles for the 'Thought in Action' section of my school's online magazine thing.. Following on from philosophy, I was kindly offered the role of head of my school's philosophy society. My favourite subject would probably be maths: I got the chance to represent my school at the Regional Finals of the UKMT Senior Maths Team Challenge this year and hope to perhaps progress to nationals next year. I just took the intermediate UKMT challenge today so I can't say how that went, but previous years have been okay; I've gotten through in the past, to the pink and grey kangaroo rounds but have really tried this year to qualify for the Olympiads. I'm currently taking part in GCHQ's cypher competition for girls, so we'll see how that goes (but random but oh well)! And that's pretty much everything...

I'm sorry if the above came across rather arrogant or whatever; I'm just really desperate to gage whether I should even consider an application in the future or not.. Honest opinions please!


Hi :smile: I just found out I've been accepted to Harvard's Class of 2021 (the same class as Malia Obama ahhh!) so I thought I'd give you some advice! I decided to apply incredibly late to Harvard and it was something I never thought I would consider studying abroad! If you can get those grades that's great and according to the British Harvard applicant websites, most successful applicants have mostly A/A* grades with the odd B so you're on track :smile: To me it sounds like you have fantastic extracurriculars! I am Head Girl, volunteered for the British Red Cross for 3 years, debate competitions, maths competitions, self-taught computer science, tutor etc. Choose to do things that genuinely interest you! Also, nobody applies to Harvard thinking they will get in - I certainly didn't expecct to get accepted let alone receive a 'likely letter' almost a month before decision day telling me I'd been accepted early! The acceptance rate is 5.4% at the moment so it's low and they have to reject lots of talented people, but the only way you know you won't get in is if you don't apply! I would also recommend you apply for 'Early Action' which has a November deadline and around a 20% acceptance rate rather than 'Regular Decision' (which is stupidly when I applied because I didn't take the SAT exams until very late and only a few weeks practice haha) with a January application deadline and a 3.5% acceptance rate. Someone above mentioned money - I don't think they have done that much research into this. I'd like to add that Harvard has fantastic financial aid and that if your family earn less than $65,000 you get your fees, room and board covered (and this is a grant not a loan!) and they believe it's possible for everyone to graduate debt free :smile: I'd also like to say that getting into American colleges depends on whether they believe you are the right 'fit' for the college. I actually got rejected from Oxford and I'm very glad because the style of learning and the course there didn't suit me at all, I would have been miserable there. The style of learning at Harvard suits me perfectly and perhaps the admissions officers saw that and maybe that had an impact on my decision. I think it really comes down to if you want a specialist education or to take a broad range of subjects and the extra opportunities come with it.

Yes it's competitive and hard to get into, but you have to be in it to win it! Nobody has been to university or done A Levels in my family so it was such a shock to be accepted! There will be people on Student Room and College Confidential (the American equivalent) who will tell you not to bother and that you have no hope - ignore those people. Somebody has to get in. My advice is to stay away some forums because the negativity can be unnecessary and college decisions are based off so much more than stats and grade!

Any questions feel free to message me :smile:
Original post by olivia7799
Hi :smile: I just found out I've been accepted to Harvard's Class of 2021 (the same class as Malia Obama ahhh!) so I thought I'd give you some advice! I decided to apply incredibly late to Harvard and it was something I never thought I would consider studying abroad! If you can get those grades that's great and according to the British Harvard applicant websites, most successful applicants have mostly A/A* grades with the odd B so you're on track :smile: To me it sounds like you have fantastic extracurriculars! I am Head Girl, volunteered for the British Red Cross for 3 years, debate competitions, maths competitions, self-taught computer science, tutor etc. Choose to do things that genuinely interest you! Also, nobody applies to Harvard thinking they will get in - I certainly didn't expecct to get accepted let alone receive a 'likely letter' almost a month before decision day telling me I'd been accepted early! The acceptance rate is 5.4% at the moment so it's low and they have to reject lots of talented people, but the only way you know you won't get in is if you don't apply! I would also recommend you apply for 'Early Action' which has a November deadline and around a 20% acceptance rate rather than 'Regular Decision' (which is stupidly when I applied because I didn't take the SAT exams until very late and only a few weeks practice haha) with a January application deadline and a 3.5% acceptance rate. Someone above mentioned money - I don't think they have done that much research into this. I'd like to add that Harvard has fantastic financial aid and that if your family earn less than $65,000 you get your fees, room and board covered (and this is a grant not a loan!) and they believe it's possible for everyone to graduate debt free :smile: I'd also like to say that getting into American colleges depends on whether they believe you are the right 'fit' for the college. I actually got rejected from Oxford and I'm very glad because the style of learning and the course there didn't suit me at all, I would have been miserable there. The style of learning at Harvard suits me perfectly and perhaps the admissions officers saw that and maybe that had an impact on my decision. I think it really comes down to if you want a specialist education or to take a broad range of subjects and the extra opportunities come with it.

Yes it's competitive and hard to get into, but you have to be in it to win it! Nobody has been to university or done A Levels in my family so it was such a shock to be accepted! There will be people on Student Room and College Confidential (the American equivalent) who will tell you not to bother and that you have no hope - ignore those people. Somebody has to get in. My advice is to stay away some forums because the negativity can be unnecessary and college decisions are based off so much more than stats and grade!

Any questions feel free to message me :smile:


Please let us know where can we contact you. This was an impressive story in so many ways!!
Original post by Sara Duro
Please let us know where can we contact you. This was an impressive story in so many ways!!


So I literally haven't been on Student Room since I posted this so it is super lucky that you only posted this yesterday, I have no idea what possessed me to log on today of all days. I don't really understand the weird messaging system here, but I will try message you my email address (don't particularly want to just post it on the thread)
I rejected offers from top UK unis and will choose the US again, and again.
I'm also free to be messaged for any questions, guys

Original post by olivia7799
So I literally haven't been on Student Room since I posted this so it is super lucky that you only posted this yesterday, I have no idea what possessed me to log on today of all days. I don't really understand the weird messaging system here, but I will try message you my email address (don't particularly want to just post it on the thread)
(edited 4 years ago)
Original post by olivia7799
Hi :smile: I just found out I've been accepted to Harvard's Class of 2021 (the same class as Malia Obama ahhh!) so I thought I'd give you some advice! I decided to apply incredibly late to Harvard and it was something I never thought I would consider studying abroad! If you can get those grades that's great and according to the British Harvard applicant websites, most successful applicants have mostly A/A* grades with the odd B so you're on track :smile: To me it sounds like you have fantastic extracurriculars! I am Head Girl, volunteered for the British Red Cross for 3 years, debate competitions, maths competitions, self-taught computer science, tutor etc. Choose to do things that genuinely interest you! Also, nobody applies to Harvard thinking they will get in - I certainly didn't expecct to get accepted let alone receive a 'likely letter' almost a month before decision day telling me I'd been accepted early! The acceptance rate is 5.4% at the moment so it's low and they have to reject lots of talented people, but the only way you know you won't get in is if you don't apply! I would also recommend you apply for 'Early Action' which has a November deadline and around a 20% acceptance rate rather than 'Regular Decision' (which is stupidly when I applied because I didn't take the SAT exams until very late and only a few weeks practice haha) with a January application deadline and a 3.5% acceptance rate. Someone above mentioned money - I don't think they have done that much research into this. I'd like to add that Harvard has fantastic financial aid and that if your family earn less than $65,000 you get your fees, room and board covered (and this is a grant not a loan!) and they believe it's possible for everyone to graduate debt free :smile: I'd also like to say that getting into American colleges depends on whether they believe you are the right 'fit' for the college. I actually got rejected from Oxford and I'm very glad because the style of learning and the course there didn't suit me at all, I would have been miserable there. The style of learning at Harvard suits me perfectly and perhaps the admissions officers saw that and maybe that had an impact on my decision. I think it really comes down to if you want a specialist education or to take a broad range of subjects and the extra opportunities come with it.

Yes it's competitive and hard to get into, but you have to be in it to win it! Nobody has been to university or done A Levels in my family so it was such a shock to be accepted! There will be people on Student Room and College Confidential (the American equivalent) who will tell you not to bother and that you have no hope - ignore those people. Somebody has to get in. My advice is to stay away some forums because the negativity can be unnecessary and college decisions are based off so much more than stats and grade!

Any questions feel free to message me :smile:


I sent you a pm!
I got admitted to some Ivies and MIT. Ended up picking an Ivy.
Pm me
Original post by Somtochi
I sent you a pm!
Hi. What GCSEs did you have?
Original post by Peter_.
Hi. What GCSEs did you have?

This thread is years old. If you're planning on applying to Harvard (or anywhere in the US) and want help and advice, I'd recommend starting your own thread in the Studying in North America forum with your questions.

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