Harvard: Only stats are important?

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Harvard: Only stats are important?
By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Sunday, April 11, 2004 - 10:23 pm: Edit

It seems to me that everyone that is being accepted to Harvard has wonderful stats. The people who are accepted at Yale, Stanford, and Princeton seem to be smart (but maybe not PERFECT) while at the same time possessing unique talents (not always...but usually).Is there anyone who got accepted to Harvard with not-so-wonderful stats but with the use of their essays and other interresting qualities about themselves? Basically, does Harvard consider stats before looking at the rest of the person?

-Please feel free to express your opinions, experiences, or stories of others that may help:-)

By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 07:29 pm: Edit

bump....sry if this seems to be an annoying question...but honestly, I am curious about this:-)

By Dmitrypetrovna (Dmitrypetrovna) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 07:49 pm: Edit

I got in with a 1400 SAT which is well below average, and I'm a white male from a middle class background.

By Collegeguy (Collegeguy) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 07:53 pm: Edit

Harvard is probably the hardest school in the country to get into. Yale may have a lower acceptance rate, but look at the caliber of Harvard students...most of the U.S. News Academic First Team goes to Harvard; Harvard takes the biggest chunk of ISEF, Siemens, and Intel Science students.

To get into Harvard requires perfect (or near perfect) stats, but also requires unique talents. Essentially, only those that are *perfect* in all respects stand a reasonable chance of getting in. There are exceptions though...

By Nyugrad (Nyugrad) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 08:01 pm: Edit

Collegeguy, I beg to differ.
Patented, published, Siemens, ISEF, top 10 of very competitive class=rejected HYP

By Ct04 (Ct04) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 09:09 pm: Edit

Yeah, Harvard is very stats-focused. And *perfect* in all respects? Buuuuuullshit. Nah, Harvard's just trying to maintain its mystique. Now, before all the indignant Harvard kids jump me, I do like Harvard, great school, nice place. It's just... Huck Farvard, Bulldogs all the way.

By Ashleyswimmer (Ashleyswimmer) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 09:31 pm: Edit

Hehe Ct!!

I think the basic method to get into Harvard is superb stats, but there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. For example, why does Harvard reject people with 1600 SATs and 5.0 GPAs only to admit people with 1200 SATs and 3.4 GPAs?

There is more to life and education than what is black and white and typed on paper. I think Harvard recognizes this, and admits its students accordingly.

Best wishes to all,

By Nyugrad (Nyugrad) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

Again, I beg to differ.

By Newyorker06 (Newyorker06) on Monday, April 12, 2004 - 11:17 pm: Edit

I think Harvard is less concerned with stats than other Ivies. This is because Harvard has, more than any other school, the ability to handpick their student bodies and get, for the most part, any student they want. It sounds like hubris, but is mostly true.

By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 12:09 am: Edit

idk...it seams to me that Harvard REALLY likes maintaining its profile, and while I have met many kids who have gon to Princeton and Yale with not the best stats, I have yet to meet a Harvard student who has. Don't get me wrong, I know Harvard looks at the student's hobbies after looking at the stats, but in the end, unless they have found the cure for cancer, it seems imposable to get in. I know that they reject students with perfect stats who rub in their face their achievements, but they still do look for the good test scores and grades.

-1400 is not that low
-I am not saying that ALL accepties have wonderful stats, I am just saying that that is the appearance
-don't get me wrong I still think that Harvard is a wonderful school!!!! :-)

By H0peful (H0peful) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

I would not say they really care about stats...I had perfect stats (1600/800/800/800, 4.0 unweighted GPA, etc.) and I didnt get in. I think if you are not legacy, URM, or row on the crew team, you're only real hope is winning major national/international awards (Intel finalist, Siemens finalist, natl sci bowl, etc.).

By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 01:19 am: Edit

well they also look at ECs and personality...but I am just saying that without the stats it almost seems as if all hope is lost.

By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 01:19 am: Edit

well they also look at ECs and personality...but I am just saying that without the stats it almost seems as if all hope is lost.

By Eurostar (Eurostar) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 05:23 am: Edit


You need good grades and test scores to be considered.

Above that, you must show some extraordinary extracurricular, academic (research, etc.), or personal achievements that stand out from the other similarly 'stats' qualified candidates.

I believe decisions are made on these three factors - sometimes superior achievement in all three may be needed to win the approval of the Admissions Committee, simply because the competition just gets so difficult.


By Nyugrad (Nyugrad) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 08:43 am: Edit

Again, beg to differ

Isef finalist,seimens,national science bowl finalist,patented, published,all state orchestra,top ten in class of 600. Was rejected HYP and Dartmouth. I don't know what they are looking for. Don't assume that if you have great grades and great achievements that you will get in. However, from what I have seen, varsity athletes have a better chance.

By Hoping (Hoping) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 09:08 am: Edit

i was admittedwith a relatively low sat.1480,800v-680m.

By Aterashva (Aterashva) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:06 am: Edit

I got into Harvard last week with a 1370 SAT. 640 math and 730 verbal.

Don't be silly. If all they were after was SAT's, then why do so many people with perfect scores get rejected?

If all they were after were people with good grades, then why do hundreds, if not thousands of valedictorians get rejected each year?

The fact is people realize there is more to a university community than just grades.

In fact, many of the people who changed the world did not have the best grades.

So they're looking for a special spark. Give them a spark, and you're in.

By Blondie (Blondie) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 12:39 pm: Edit

I think the essays become very important when admissions officers are presented with a group of consistently strong applicants in terms of SAT scores and GPA and other stats. Essays can really convey a student's motivations and passions. They don't want a kid who lists their accomplishments in his or her essay, they want people who show their quirks, their interests, and can tell a good story.

By Papucutta (Papucutta) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

all you peeps who are saying you got in without high academic scores: what did you do that made harvard smile upon your app???????????????? i thought prestigious universities were for top students.....

By Kickassphalt (Kickassphalt) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 09:28 pm: Edit

The essays are huge. I can't tell you how many acceptance letters i got saying how much they enjoyed reading my essay. Granted, it is one thing out of many things on the application, but it really makes you come alive on the paper. Many of my friends who can't make themselves alive with words (in essays) are extraordinary people (1600s, etc.), but got rejected.

Top students. Students first. People who want to learn.

By Bigunderdog (Bigunderdog) on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:22 pm: Edit

A friend of mine is Asian-American, and sports the following in his transfer application to Harvard: 83 average from high school (all-honors), 1300 SATs (670 verbal, 630 math), 4.0 GPA as a freshman in college, many extracurriculars (concentration in journalism), impressive essays, and good recommendations. The underlying tone of this thread is that a student like my friend has a chance to be accepted. Would you all agree?

By Hotcookiedough (Hotcookiedough) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 12:33 am: Edit

This thread is for freshman year apps. Transfer apps are like 50 times harder to get in.

By Ashleyswimmer (Ashleyswimmer) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 11:18 am: Edit

Yeah, Transfer admission is like, IMPOSSIBLE unless you've cured AIDS or you're of Inuit descent. Still, a small few manage to get in each year. I think they admitted something like 50 out of 1000 last year.
Big, are you and your "friend" one in the same?

love to all,

By Chicagodude (Chicagodude) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 01:13 pm: Edit

For all the people who say that you need perfect stats to get into Harvard, you are dead wrong. It's all about how you work the interviewer, how you present your essay, and the impression that you give of yourself in the application. At the time that I applied, I had a 29 ACT, never took the SAT's, got a 780 on the SAT II Writing; though I pretty much had straight A's all through high school and lots of activities...let's just say my counselor wasn't very enthusiastic. I had just switched schools, so my counselor recommendation probably wasn't very good/in-depth. Although I got a 34 on the February ACT's, I was still very doubtful of getting accepted.

Granted I am African-American and that probably played to my advantage, I had a lot going against me. For example: I am a Junior in high school, I haven't participated in many summer programs, and I've only taken a few AP classes (though I have gotten 5's on all the tests). I just spent two days at University of Chicago and met a lot of the other prospective students who didn't get into Harvard. They were all smart and I was really shocked and spent a lot of time wonder just how it is that I got in. A lot of people at my school (who didn't get into Harvard ) are saying that I got in because I'm black. I don't know how true that is but I doubt that I had the most impressive stats out of all the black students that applied and also, I got into Columbia, Yale, and Northwestern, so perhaps I had a little something going for me.

I think the difference between me and a lot of the other applicants (besides my stats which weren't really amazing) was the way I displayed myself in my application/essay/interview. I spent several days on my essays. I did a lot of research on Harvard and the many writers that came out of the university. I turned in three essays all focusing on different aspects of my future goals and high school experiences (for example: one was on several ideas I have for novels, another was on my opinion of Affirmative action and Harvard's policies regarding minority recruitment, another was on my work experience which is working as a legal assistant at a prestigious Chicago law firm). I also did really well in my interview. The guy (who was white) basically told me I'm in. He was very impressed with me and thought I was, overall, the most impressive student he had interviewed.

I don't think there are any secrets to getting into the competitive schools. I think there are ways that you can better present yourself but overall, you can only create an impression that is entirely you. Some may want to believe that I got in because I am black. The truth is I got in because I am a young black man who was so entirely different than the average private school kid who took every possible AP class, got perfect scores on standardized tests, and bought every how to get into harvard book that was available at the local Borders or Barnes & Noble bookstores. My advice to anybody who is trying to get into Harvard is to seperate yourself from the other die-hard-got-to-get-into-an-Ivy-league-school kids and to develop conversational skills. Also, I spent a lot of time praying that all would go well. And don't be afraid to be different.

By Hannajvb (Hannajvb) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 03:04 pm: Edit

I got into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Dartmouth.

Although I can't possibly pinpoint why I got in, I know that I don't fall in the category of supergeniuses who have won every national competition possible. I am just rather unique. I'm from South Carolina, neither of my parents attended college, and my extracurriculars are very unusual. My family started a half-way house for women recovering from drug-abuse seven years ago, and it's located in the upstairs of my home. This was my Personal Statement:

A Place of Uncommon Peace

I have, as of today, lived with more women than an estimated 99.99 percent of worldwide males, not to mention more than virtually 100% of 17-18 year old males. White women, Black women, Hispanic women, Asian women, young women, old women, filthy rich women, dirt poor women, average women, educated women, sixth grade dropout women, schoolteachers, nurses, strippers (well, just one - I think), and almost everything in between—I've lived with them all, at least under the same roof.

My home is called The Shalom House. We call it “a place of uncommon peace.” The five-year story of Shalom House is interesting, but difficult to comprehend initially for those who have not experienced it firsthand. I have found this to be true especially when answering my friends' inevitable question, "Who are those ladies living in the upstairs of your house?" Shalom House, is, in short, a non-profit transitional home (or half-way house) for women who have finished drug treatment and need a place to get back on their feet before returning home. The inspiration for Shalom House sprang from my own mother's battle with drug addiction thirteen years ago that culminated with her completion of a half-way house program similar to Shalom House.

Having spent all of my formative teenage years surrounded by women with drug and alcohol problems, I have had the opportunity to meet, get to know, and truly become close to people of diverse cultures, religious beliefs, races, levels of wealth, and perspectives on life. I certainly would not be the same if I hadn't met Karen, a backwoods woman from Big Stone Gap, Virginia; or Tracy, a wealthy boarding school girl turned alcoholic; or Pamela, a waitress at Huddle House (she cooked me dinner) who was the very first of the "Shalom Ladies"; or Danielle, who lives here now, a young big-city woman from both Boston and Atlanta with no accent (the two cities neutralized each other) who treats me as her vicarious little brother for the time she's away from home. I will always be able to draw and benefit from these experiences.

When my parents first told me we were moving away from our home with the great bike-riding backyard to start a new ministry, I thought they had gone insane, as did the rest of my extended family. I knew deep down, however, that if this future ministry was deemed important enough to remove me from childhood friends, something terrific must surely be in store. To say the least, I was right. After going through these past few years, from helping with the initial remodeling work to daily interaction with the women, I consider having been part of Shalom House’s many life-changing experiences a true privilege.

Really, my advice for future applicants would be to find a way that you are naturally unique, focus your passions on that, and spend a lot of time perfecting your essay to portray that. Hope my experience helps someone! Thanks!

EDIT: And I think Chicagodude is absolutely right. My interviewer told me "Harvard would be lucky to have you," and although some interviewers probably don't know what they're talking about, I think the experienced ones have a good idea of admissions chances.

Another bit of advice: If you're like me, and you're not the most brilliant of the brilliant, don't focus on raising your SAT a few more points or winning some random academic contest. Focus on the passions you have that make you unique.

By Sac (Sac) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 03:24 pm: Edit

Great post, Hannajvb, and beautiful, beautiful essay. Will you be going to Harvard?

By Ilabcurious1423 (Ilabcurious1423) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 05:18 pm: Edit


yes that is all true...BUT....you did have good grades backing you up. I am just saying that some people with 1200s or maybe a B+ average in hs get into Princetone, Stanford, Yale....but I have never met one Harvard applicant who has gotten in with bad scores. I know that it is not ALL about stats but...without good ones, I think it is pretty near impossable to get in. Yes, I know that people with good stats get rejected (not interresting, no passion....) but, in the end it seems to me that stats come first and THEN ec's, passion, personality.....

I bet that they get tons of interresting applicants that they love every year, but when it comes down to the scores...the person who invented a new type of bubblegum may beat the person who cured cancer.

I am not saying in ALL cases I am just saying that it SEEMS that way.

as I said before...don't worry, I still love Harvard! If anything, it only inspires me to work harder:-)

By Vecter (Vecter) on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 06:20 pm: Edit

my stats were only avg

(check my prstats: http://www.prstats.com/display.php?user=VeCTer)

but my ECs really got me on top

By Hannajvb (Hannajvb) on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:46 am: Edit

I will be visiting Harvard, Yale and Princeton next week...so I am hoping that will help me make a final decision. I'm pretty sure it's between Harvard and Yale, but I don't really know.

From all my research, it seems Harvard is more prestigious, Yale has a better undergrad focus and contact with faculty, Harvard has the better location, and Yale has a better social atmosphere...so it will be tough. I hope to major in religious studies - and I have been offered a place in "Directed Studies" at Yale, so that could factor in. Either way, I don't think I can go wrong!

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