Applying from schools who have never sent anyone to Harvard

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Applying from schools who have never sent anyone to Harvard
By Need Help on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit

Did any one apply whose school never/rarely applies to Harvard-type schools. Did you get accepted? Do you think that helped or hurt your chances.

By Sbpnoi112 (Sbpnoi112) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 03:32 am: Edit

all i know is....colleges like students from schools they generally accept.... one from my school ever got into harvard...and i didn't either.... least one student each year from my school's infancy has been accepted at berkeley...I was the one for 2004

granted these are totally different schools (just elitist)...but it's what i know, and i got nothing better to do than post...

By Peepilis (Peepilis) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 08:37 am: Edit

Yeah, colleges develop familiarity with certain high schools and most admissions committees have high school rankings based on the history of people they have admitted and how well those people have done.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 09:13 am: Edit

Harvard actually does like students from high schools that have never sent anyone to Harvard. That can be a tip factor. Of course, it helps if one makes sure that one's teachers, GC understand how to write recommendations that are Ivy quality. More specifics and thought need to go into these recommendations than, for instance, is needed in the check-off kind of recommendations for community colleges and many 4-year public institutions. The recommendations have to also go beyond," He is a nice person. He took my class and got an "A". He is student gov't prez (along with a summary of his resume."

Specific anecdotes about what the GC and teachers have seen is what's needed, along with the info that, "We have never sent a student to Harvard, but we feel X is Harvard-quality because...."

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit

hahaha, funniest crap I've ever seen.

Call me bitter, but I don't believe a word of it. My situation: we (my hs and possibly my entire area of the country)have sent 1 person to h in our whole history. He went on to become FAMOUS (well, decently) and I know of one guy who was smart and really athletic who applied 5 or so years ahead of me (early action) and didn't get in. I applied Early action this year and got deferred, then rejected. I THOUGHT that "overcoming your limits" and "taking advantage of all the resources available to you" was something that H would at least NOTICE, but now I think that they have a bias against this area or something b/c my reg. rep. wasn't very nice to me and H sure hasn't given me much of anything considering how much time, money, effort, and sacrifice I gave them. (they messed a whole bunch of things up with my application to the point where it was "incomplete") and they never tried to even recruit me after I took the PSAT's and got a high score. THey say that your location/connections, etc. won't hurt you and they even put a couple stats out there for people from rural areas, poor, only one applying from school, etc. but now I'm starting to think that it's just for show. People had tried to tell me that it was an elitist game before and I replied saying I didn't believe that and that I thought H wasn't like that. I'm not so sure anymore.

All in all, it's a great school and I'm not mad at them. I"m just dissapointed that they missed out on me and by browsing this board, quite a lot of excellent people who are going to bring great things into this world. I guess we have to say that the adcoms have it hard too; they hafta make hard decisions and they're only human. So apply anyways, but just don't forget that not everything in life is fair no matter how much they say their admissions game is fair or no matter how much you want to think it's fair. You can always try grad school though.

Tricky thing about the rec's though is how the hell are you supposed to tell your recommender (and someone you look up to) that their hard work was not "good enough"?! I think that H may just be expecting too many things there. Not everyone can be perfect.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 06:10 pm: Edit


Close to 20,000 people apply to Harvard for something like 2,200 slots. At least 85% of the applicants qualify for admissin. These include more than 1,000 who got 800 on part of the SAT, and something like 2,000 valedictorians.

No matter how wonderful a student is or what hooks they have, any student who assumes that of course they will get accepted is making a big mistake. There are just too many excellent applicants for a small number of spaces for anyone to feel they will be a shoo-in.

If one is good enough to apply to Harvard, one needs to value oneself by simply being good enough to put in an application, something that most students know would be an absolutely ridiculous idea for themselves to do.

Any recommender who assumes a student will be accepted is very naive about the process. The best way to handle such people would be to let them know the stats of applicants, and let them know that while you didn't get in, you feel honored that the recommender thought you were good enough to be considered. And then you let the recommender know where you will be going, and you thank them for supporting and encouraging your higher education.

One certainly needn't cringe in shame if one didn't get into Harvard.

And, as I mentioned, not getting in doesn't mean that one's work wasn't good enough. It may mean that to develop a well rounded class, Harvard didn't need any more school newspaper editors, students from NYC, legacies or whatever category you may represent.

And do remember, that when it comes to the so-called perfect students -- valedictorians, students with 1600s, lots of them don't get in either. Even for students with 1600s, typically only 50% of them gain admission.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 06:15 pm: Edit

My school has never sent anyone to Harvard, and I presume by my waitlisted status, won't this year. I'm quite sure it is a major hook. But not for poor ole Washington Irving H.S *sheds tear for my much reviled high school*. I am the first accepted Yalie, I'm quite sure...

By Hoping (Hoping) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 06:25 pm: Edit

admission to harvard is such a random thing,admission to any ivy,is a randon thing,the numbers nstarmom quoted were actually much lower than they really are!almost3000 had an 800 on math and a close to it number on how are you going to compete with perfect scores you cant ,no one can,not even other perfect scorers,because there is always some one a little more up the all we can do is take pleasure in what weve accomplished and move on!as much as that sucks what other choice is there?

By Shahab (Shahab) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 06:49 pm: Edit

with 1600s, lots of them don't get in either. Even for students with 1600s, typically only 50% of them gain admission.

Actually the statistic is more like 80 percent...there was a poster who linked to a site showing sat/gpa/acceptance correlation, i wish i could remember who.anyway, your point that no one is guaranteed admissions is well taken, but if you are a 1600, the statistics are strongly in your favor.

By Piquant77 (Piquant77) on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 09:36 pm: Edit

As a H acceptee from a school that is only a few years old and has a ridiculously small graduating class, I can tell you that what school you come from makes very little difference, but what you do with the opportunities given to you is crucial.

Firstly, regardless of how many obstacles you had to overcome to get to where you are (for me it was moving to a different country and being in a school that had no guidance counselor, no EC's, very young and inexperienced teachers, etc.), Harvard or any other elite university isn't going to care if you don't present those things and yourself well in your application. Just being at a disadvantage isn't enough to get in; you still have to be a top applicant who is very active in and outside of school and excels at the level of the rest of the acceptee group.

Secondly, it *is* important for adcoms to know about a person's school and background, but this usually will apply only to later generations from your school. My adcom called me personally to find out more about me and my little school, but this was after reviewing my application and finding it appealing while knowing virtually nothing about my school.

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with NSM; no one can expect to get into these schools and that is a problem a lot of top students have..their peers and teachers somehow think they're a "shoo-in" and while it takes some effort to correct them, it is worthwhile to do so because unrealistic expectations can give unwanted pressure to the student. I myself know I was just lucky and am very grateful.

By Mutinational on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

I absolutely agree with Piquant77. No one from my school (in Germany) ever applied to an American university before, yet I was accepted. Certainly, luck also played a role, but it definitely shows that Harvard does not decide upon the reputation of your high school.

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 06:11 pm: Edit

Piquant77-yeah, I would definitely fit into the category you listed under "firstly." (sigh) at least I've got so many great offers from other schools and some offers of schol, etc. that mean I was in the top x% of their app. pool. It's just weird, b/c seems like H had like a bias toward me (my reg. rep. scared me by the way they talked......just didn't seem all that encouraging)

By Piquant77 (Piquant77) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 10:50 am: Edit

You're right Johnmayerfan it's unfair and they probably are really missing out on great students. Unfortunately, they have so many stellar candidates that even some great ones excellent enough to do well at Harvard won't get admitted. Understand that it was arbitrary, and best of luck with your other schools; you should be proud.

By Holdenesquealex (Holdenesquealex) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 03:51 pm: Edit

I'm fairly sure that no one from my school has ever been accepted to Harvard. I was deferred early and waitlisted, so I think it will stay that way. I'm just a bit turned off by the whole elite college thing right now (I was rejected at Yale and Princeton too). I just don't know what I could have done better. I've had good grades, I got a 36 on the ACT (the only one in my state that testing date), I pursue many interests passionately. Whatever. At least Ohio State wants me to go there.

Sorry for the rant, just a bit frustrated/disappointed.

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 06:05 pm: Edit


God, do I know how you feel. at least I have been waitlisted at Princeton, which has always been my first choice. I feel such love for Princeton right now, just hope my hopes don't get dashed, eh?

By Celebrian23 (Celebrian23) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 07:55 pm: Edit

wow this is depressing. My school has only sent a handful of people to ivy leagues, and only 1 to an "upper" ivy (princeton). And these people were the smartest in the school. I have no chance, not even by a miracle.

By Mhawk177 (Mhawk177) on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 08:22 pm: Edit

My school has sent one person that I know of in its history to Harvard.. and that person was Ted Kazynski (sp?) better known as the unambomber. He was brilliant.. and I would love to be the second to attend Harvard. As far as I am aware he was it and I am most likely going to include that fact in on my application if the essay includes myself rather than some abstract topic.

By Johnmayerfan (Johnmayerfan) on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 05:51 pm: Edit

Celebrian-ah, let me assuage your fears by a misquoted quote from Princeton (the BEST school in the country) former dean Fred Hargadon. He said something like "people tend to assume the universal and that's the biggest mistake. If we only took your school's val. , don't assume if you're not val., we won't take you" or something like that. SO - you see - you have a chance. Hang in there and I wish you luck.

Mhawk-hehe, funny situation you're in. Maybe H will go for that....(cough)unabomber(smirks)

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 07:25 pm: Edit

What you could have done was to have applied to schools that were ranked between top 15 and second tier. No matter how wonderful one is, the odds are always low of getting into schools that are like HPY. The odds for high scoring students like you are much better for getting into schools below the top 15. You hurt yourself by only applying to very top schools and then to a second tier school. The second tier was a safety, but you also could have had some good match schools that were higher ranked, and would have loved to have attracted someone with your excellent ACT score.

By Holdenesquealex (Holdenesquealex) on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 12:59 pm: Edit


My range of schools that I applied to was definitely something I made a mistake on. I realize now that I should have applied to some more match-type schools. I actually applied to more than just the 4 HYP, OSU, and was accepted to all of them including Duke. I've decided to go to Ohio State regardless, for a lot of different reasons, not the least a generous merit scholarship. I've accepted being turned down from HYP, and I now realize that it's not really going to deter what I want to do with my life.

By Chicagodude (Chicagodude) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 03:37 pm: Edit

I got into Harvard and no one has ever gone to Harvard from my school. In fact, my school is so disadvantaged, they don't even have a large selection of AP classes. I believe my school is categorized as a "choice" school which, in Illinois, means the average ACT score at my school is so low that not only are the students given the opportunity to transfer to another school, but the school may also get funds cut if they don't improve. Plus, I'm only a Junior in high school. It's not impossible to come out of a "disadvantaged" and go to Harvard, however it may require some work. You probably need straight A's (like I had), decent standardized test scores (again, like I had), and an essay/interview that presents you in stark contrast to the average prep school kids who usually get into Harvard.

By Annakarenina (Annakarenina) on Thursday, April 29, 2004 - 08:02 pm: Edit

What are you planning on majoring in at OSU? I may plan on attending there for a journalism degree so I was just curious.

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