In this issue:
- Early Action admits to the Harvard Class of 2026
- Standardized testing to be optional at Harvard for the next four years
- What you need to be doing if you want to apply to US colleges
- Newsletter 100th issue
Notifications were sent on Thursday 16th December to the 740 successful applicants out of the 9,406 who applied from around the world for admission to Harvard College under the Early Action Program. Those who have been offered places are not obliged to attend and have until 1st May to make a final decision. Several successful candidates were from the UK, so congratulations to all of you!
Results were released at 7.00pm Eastern Time, which is 12.00 midnight GMT, so many UK applicants didn’t find out if they had been offered a place until Friday morning. If you have been notified that your application has been deferred, this means it will be fully re-assessed during the Regular Action round in the New Year, and you will receive a final decision at the end of March.
The Harvard Gazette reports that the current admissions cycle – for the class of 2026 – is the second for which students have been able to apply to Harvard without requiring standardized testing, as many testing centres have been closed due to COVID-19. The report goes on:
“Consistent with Harvard’s whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are one factor among many considered. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years – including extracurricular activities, community involvement, employment, and family responsibilities – are considered as part of the admissions process.”
William R. Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said: “Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process. Their applications will be considered on the basis of what they have presented, and they are encouraged to send whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.”
In a separate announcement, Harvard College has stated that standardized testing will remain optional for the next four years.
Harvard’s generous financial aid program was cited by students and families in Zoom sessions as a reason for applying. Around 55% of students receive need-based financial aid, and 20% of families pay nothing towards their child’s Harvard education. Financial aid is in the form of grants, not loans, so the aid you receive does not have to be paid back. International students are considered for financial aid in exactly the same way as US citizens.
So far, nearly 12% of admitted students come from first generation backgrounds (the first in their families to go to university). International citizens comprise 12.6% of Early Action admits, compared with 12.2% last year.
Many more UK students will be applying to Harvard by the Regular Action deadline of 1st January. If you are one of them, remember that most offers of admission are made during the Regular Action cycle so your chances of getting in are just as good as for Early Action applicants. If you are keen to apply to US colleges, here is what you should be doing now and in the coming weeks, depending on your school year:
Year 13 (England & Wales) S6 (Scotland) Year 14 (N. Ireland)
Submit your US college applications by 1st January
You should now be in the final stages of gathering together the various components of your application, ready to send off before the deadline. Check your Common App. online to make sure that your nominated referees have submitted their reports. If not, chase them up urgently. In case there are technical glitches it’s always a good idea to submit your applications early – preferably before Christmas so you can enjoy the holidays in the knowledge that the applications are all safely with the relevant admissions offices. If you are a high achieving student from a state funded school, or from a family where no one has been to university before, we very much hope that you have included Harvard as one of your choices, as we particularly welcome applications from these groups.
If you are a Harvard applicant, you do not have to choose your concentration (or main area of study, often called a ‘major’) in advance, but you are nevertheless asked to express a preference on your application form so the university has a rough idea of the likely numbers for different concentrations. For the first 18 months, students are encouraged to take classes in a variety of different areas – including subjects they have not previously had the opportunity to study – before making a final decision on their concentration mid-way through the second year. Most students change their minds about their course of study during their time at Harvard, so you can rest assured that you will not be committed to any particular subject area when you start your degree.
Year 12 (England & Wales) S5 (Scotland) Year 13 (N. Ireland)
Apply for the Sutton Trust US Programme 2022
If you fulfil the criteria for the Sutton Trust US Programme, submit your application without delay.
To be eligible to apply, you must:
- Currently be in Year 12 in England or Wales, S5 in Scotland or Year 13 in Northern Ireland
- Attend, and have always attended, a state-funded school or college in the UK (i.e. non-fee paying)
- Not hold US citizenship
- Be from a low income family (generally, this will mean a household earning £45,000 per year or less)
- Be interested in US culture and higher education
- Would be the first generation of their family to attend university
- Have been eligible for free school meals
- Attend a school or college with a below average A Level or Higher point score and/or a low rate of progression into higher education
- Live in a neighbourhood with a low rate of progression into higher education and/or a high level of socio-economic deprivation
- Have excellent GCSE or S4 qualifications. This means you have achieved at or close to the following grades. In England and Northern Ireland: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or 7 or above, or near this level. In Wales: at least eight GCSEs at grade A or above, or near this level. In Scotland: at least six B passes at National 5 or above, or near this level
Students will be selected based on similar criteria to those used by US universities:
- Academic performance and potential
- Extracurricular involvement, including school and community activities, work experience, paid work, sports and music performance, volunteering, caring responsibilities and other interests (accepting that many of these activities will have been curtailed during the COVID-19 lockdowns)
- Character: leadership, service, work ethic, enthusiasm, drive to succeed
- Demonstrated interest in US higher education
Student Application Deadline: 16 January 2022
School Reference Deadline: 19 January 2022
Year 11 (England & Wales) S4 (Scotland) Year 12 (N. Ireland)
Work hard at your GCSEs or National 5s and develop your extracurricular profile
Top priority this year is to work hard so that you get excellent results in your GCSEs or National 5s next summer, as these will act as a gateway to whatever comes afterwards. You should also spend time developing your extracurricular activities and pursuits (as far as COVID-19 will allow) as US colleges are just as interested in your extracurricular achievements as in your academic ability.
Also, it’s not too early to start thinking about doing some kind of work experience and/or community service next summer before you start your A Levels or Highers. This will stand you in good stead for both UK and US university applications, as it will show your dedication and initiative.
100th issue of the outreach newsletter
This newsletter was started by the Harvard Club of the UK in September 2013 to help students who wanted to apply to Harvard and other US colleges but did not have easy access to information and support from other sources. Since then, between 30 and 40 UK applicants per year have been admitted to Harvard, and many more to other US colleges. We will continue to provide essential information to UK applicants each month, explaining what you should be doing at each stage of the application cycle, with links to further information and relevant articles. If you are not yet a subscriber, please sign up using the link below. It’s free!