New Harvard website for UK applicants
The biggest news this month is that we have just launched a new website specifically for UK applicants to Harvard College. Bristling with photographs, good advice and information on how to apply, it provides everything you need to know about the application process, academic programs, extracurricular activity and financial aid. Click on the banner above to be taken to the home page, or on these links to go straight to specific sections:
Consider applying to Harvard – application deadlines approaching!
If you are in Year 13, you should now be putting together the components of your application ready to submit to your chosen colleges by 1st November (Early Action) or 1st January (Regular Action). If you are an academically able student who also has broad interests and significant achievement outside the classroom, we hope you will consider Harvard as one of your choices. Harvard prides itself in attracting a diverse body of talented students from over 100 countries with a wide range of social backgrounds. It is the diversity of its student body, combined with the outstanding quality of its teaching and research, that makes Harvard such an exciting and dynamic environment in which to learn. In addition, generous financial aid makes a Harvard education affordable to all, regardless of family income. Read this letter to UK students from William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, and follow the links to find out about everything that Harvard has to offer.
Dear UK student
Have you considered including Harvard in your college search? If you have strong grades in a university preparatory program, broad academic interests, and an open-minded attitude, Harvard and other selective universities in the US may be a good fit for you and we encourage you to explore what Harvard has to offer.
Admission to Harvard and similar colleges is competitive. Nevertheless, we believe that you should consider applying to a college that will challenge and support you to pursue your interests to the fullest. Small classes, with a median class size of 12, and world-class resources combine with a generous financial aid program to help 98% of our students graduate.
Harvard firmly believes that your financial circumstances should not keep you from great achievement. Our innovative financial aid initiative ensures that students from all economic backgrounds from around the nation and the world can afford to come here. Students with annual family incomes under approximately £40,000 and normal assets pay nothing; those with incomes from £40,000 to about £100,000 pay 0-10% of their annual income; and those with higher incomes often find that need-based aid is still available.
Even international families can use our Net Price Calculator to get an idea of how much Harvard will really cost you. By answering a few simple questions, you can get an estimate of your financial aid package and expected family contribution. You will notice that loans are not required, so students can graduate debt-free.
If you are a top student, no matter what your economic background, we sincerely hope you will consider applying to Harvard. If the application fee is a concern, simply request a fee waiver when prompted on the application form and we will respond.
An exciting college experience is on the horizon, and we’d like to help you find your home at Harvard.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
86 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-1551 (Office of Admissions)
(617) 495-1581 (Griffin Financial Aid Office)
©2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College
What’s the difference between ‘Early Action’ and ‘Regular Action’?
‘Regular Action’ refers to the normal deadline for submitting your application to American colleges (usually 1st January, but it does vary from college to college). You may apply to as many colleges as you like by this deadline. But if you have one particular institution that is your clear favourite, most American colleges run a scheme called ‘Single Choice Early Action,’ or just ‘Early Action,’ which allows you to apply to one college earlier than the others (by 1st November) and receive a decision by mid-December. There is no particular advantage or disadvantage in applying Early Action, other than the security value of finding out early if your top college will offer you a place. You have just as much chance of success if you apply by the Regular Action deadline.
Some colleges use the term ‘Early Decision’ rather than ‘Early Action’. What’s the difference?
If you apply to a college ‘Early Action’ and are offered a place, the offer is usually not binding and you may wait and see if you get further offers from your ‘Regular Action’ colleges before you decide which offer to accept. On the other hand, an offer made as a result of an ‘Early Decision’ application is usually binding, so you must accept the offer and withdraw your applications from all other universities to which you have applied. This is not a problem if you definitely want to go the ‘Early Decision’ college, but being offered admission will close off all other options so it is very important to check whether an offer will be binding or non-binding before submitting your application. There is, however, one advantage to applying to an ‘Early Decision’ college: you have a greater chance of being admitted because the Admissions Office knows you are already fully committed to attending if you are offered a place.
More information and FAQs can be found on the ‘Single Choice Early Action’ section of the Harvard Admissions website.
Year 12: two essential tasks for this academic year
Last month we mentioned the two essential tasks for students currently in Year 12. Here is some more information about them:
2. Register to take the standardised admissions tests required by most American colleges and book a place far enough ahead to allow you plenty of time to practise. If you haven’t already done so, register for the tests now and book a date or dates to take them in the spring of 2016. Between registering and taking the tests, set yourself a practice timetable so you are at your maximum performance by the time you sit the exams. There are two tests to choose from: the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). US colleges accept both tests equally, but they are structured differently, so which one you decide to take simply boils down to the style of exam you prefer. You make wish to take a free practice test in each exam to help you decide.
Practising for the SAT
Note that the SAT test will be changing significantly from March 2016, so make sure you do the correct set of practice questions for the date you want to take the test.
Where to find the free practice questions:
You can also get free online coaching for the new SAT test here.
In the new version of the SAT, the essay section will be optional, but we recommend that all students should still take it.
Test dates and test sites
The remaining SAT test dates in 2015/16 are:
Current version of SAT:
- 7 November 2015
- 5 December 2015
- 23 January 2016
New version of SAT:
- 5 March 2016
- 7 May 2016
- 4 June 2016
It is best to register with the College Board (which administers the tests) in the autumn of Year 12 (Lower Sixth) and to take the test in January, March, May or June. This will give you plenty of time to practise and also provide the option of re-taking it in the October of Year 13 if you do not get as good a score as you hoped (colleges will only take into account your highest score if you take it more than once).
Click here for a list of UK test sites for the SAT.
Practising for the ACT
As an alternative to the SAT Reasoning Test, you may prefer to take the ACT, which tests most of the same areas, but is a different style of exam. Check out the free online test prep here.
Test dates and test sites
The remaining ACT test dates in 2015/16 are:
- 24 October 2015
- 12 December 2015
- 6 February 2016
- 9 April 2016
- 11 June 2016
Like the SAT, it is best to register for the ACT in the autumn of Year 12 and to take the exam in February, April or June, leaving you the option of re-taking it, if necessary, the following September or October. Although the essay section is optional, we strongly advise you to take it. To do this, you will need to register for ‘ACT with writing’, rather than just ‘ACT’.
Click here for a list of UK test sites for the ACT.
In addition to the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT with writing, the more competitive colleges will also require you to take two SAT Subject Tests. There are 20 subjects to choose from, and you should normally take your two strongest subjects at A-Level. Note that not all subjects are offered on every test date, so look up the subject test dates below and plan accordingly.
Click here for a full list of subjects and the dates they are available.
As with the main SAT and ACT tests, the best way of getting a good score is regular practice. Click here for free practice questions in every subject.