In this issue:
- Harvard planning for ‘full return’ to campus in Fall 2021
- Admissions decisions for Harvard College Class of 2025 to be released on 6 April 2021
- Next steps if you are offered a place at Harvard, and what to do if you are put on the waitlist, or not offered a place
- Effect of COVID-19 on US college admission requirements for the 2021-22 application cycle
Dean Claudine Gay says Harvard planning for ‘full return’ in Fall 2021
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said in a Friday (5 March) interview that Harvard is planning to conduct as much undergraduate teaching in-person as possible in the Fall.
In a recent interview with the Harvard Crimson (Harvard’s student-run daily newspaper), Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Claudine Gay said that Harvard’s plans for Fall 2021 had the ‘overriding goal’ of ‘charting a path for a full return for our students, our faculty, and staff.’
Dean Gay hopes to include ‘as much in-person learning as possible’ for undergraduates in the new academic year, although she foresees that ‘there might be some form of the pandemic still with us.’
In-person teaching pilots this Spring, led by Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda Claybaugh, will help prepare for the possibility of hybrid learning in the Fall, which would include in-person and online components for larger courses.
For candidates admitted to the Class of 2025 starting their undergraduate courses this August, it is therefore likely that there will be at least some in-person learning on campus, possibly augmented by online elements.
‘Welcome’ events for the Class of 2025 prior to arrival on campus will still take place remotely. ‘Visitas’ events run by Harvard College for all admitted students will take place remotely from 17-23 April 2021. UK students and their parents admitted to Harvard College will also have their own welcome event on the first day of ‘Visitas’ week – 17 April 2021. Full details will be sent to all admitted candidates.
Admissions decisions for Class of 2025 to be released on 6 April 2021
If you have applied to Harvard College for the Class 2025 (starting your undergraduate degree in August 2021), admissions decisions will be sent out on 6 April 2021 at 7.00pm US Eastern Time, which is 12.00 midnight British Summer Time. The reply deadline for admitted students will be 3 May 2021.
Admissions decisions are normally released at the end of March but more time was needed this year as Harvard received over 57,000 applications worldwide, compared with just over 40,000 last year. The extra time will ensure that all admissions decisions can be conducted in the same careful and comprehensive manner as in the past.
What should I do if I’m offered a place at Harvard or other US colleges?
- If you have more than one offer, choose the college that you feel is the overall best fit in terms of the academic curriculum, extracurricular opportunities and geographic location.
- Any offers of financial aid should come at the same time as offers of admission. Consider these carefully, as the level of financial aid offered will have a significant effect on your final choice. If you receive notice that your aid application is incomplete, quickly submit the missing information so that the aid decision can reach you during the month of April. If the aid offer is not sufficient to allow you to attend that college, contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss whether any adjustments can be made. Prepare for that conversation by thinking about any unusual expenses or situations your family may have (e.g. “My parents annually provide about £3,000 support to my grandmother overseas,” or “My father has recently lost his job and our income is £10,000 lower now than it was last year.”)
- If possible, contact recent UK graduates of the colleges that offer you admission, and chat to them about their experiences.
- If you are admitted to Harvard College, make sure you attend the virtual ‘Welcome’ event run by the Harvard Club of the UK on Saturday 17 April 2021. You will get the chance to meet other admits from the UK as well as Harvard alumni. Also attend the main Harvard ‘Visitas’ event from 17-23 April 2021 to meet your classmates from all over the world.
- If you wish to accept your offer, be sure to inform the Harvard Admissions Office by 3rd May 2021.
- Check out the Incoming Students’ Timeline for a list of tasks between May – August 2021.
What to do if you are put on the waitlist
- This means that you narrowly missed out on being offered a place, but could still be offered one depending on the level of acceptance from other students.
- Stay positive, and be sure to let the Admissions Office know of any major achievements since you submitted your application, as these may increase your chances of success.
- Although they may not be your first choice, consider all other offers you have received from both US and UK universities.
- If you are offered a place at a US college that is not your first choice, you should still accept it by the deadline. If you are subsequently admitted from the waitlist of your first choice college, you can inform the college you accepted that you are changing your mind (and don’t worry; this happens all the time over the summer for all US colleges. It gives the first college a chance to admit someone from theirwaitlist to take the spot you have turned down.) Or accept no places and plan to take a gap year or enrol in the UK or elsewhere.
What to do if you are not offered a place
- Explore other options.
- Consider taking a gap year and reapplying next year. (If you do this, it is better to apply to a different group of US colleges as it is very rare for the same college to offer a place to a student the second time around, unless he or she has achieved something very significant in the interim.)
- If reapplying, identify an adviser who can review all aspects of your application and help with improvements and finding ‘good fit’ colleges for your particular needs and aspirations.
- If taking a gap year, use part of the year on activities that will enhance your application, such as community service, work experience, academic research, or enhancing still further an extracurricular skill or activity (or any combination of the above).
Effect of COVID-19 on US college admission requirements for the 2021-22 application cycle
This section is relevant for students currently in Year 12 (England and Wales); S5 (Scotland); or Year 13 (Northern Ireland) who will be submitting their applications to US colleges this autumn for entry the following year.
During the current (2021-22) admissions cycle, many US colleges (including Harvard) do not require SAT or ACT tests to be completed, so be sure to check with your shortlisted colleges to find out their requirements.
In addition, the College Board (the body that administers the SAT tests) has announced that it will no longer be administering the SAT Subject Tests or the optional SAT essay after the June 2021 administration. The main SAT reasoning test will continue to be offered, but it is up to individual colleges whether they will continue to require the tests when campuses are back to normal.
In its Admissions Update for the 2021-22 Application Cycle, the Harvard website states: ‘We will allow students to apply for admission without requiring ACT or SAT test results….Consistent with Harvard’s whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are only one factor among many….Students who do not submit standardized testing this coming year will not be disadvantaged in the application process.’
If you still want to practise the tests in case you need them, here are the links to the free practice material:
SAT Reasoning Test
SAT Subject Tests (not being offered after June 2021)
For the SAT, there are also free online practice tools provided by the Khan Academy.
ACT Test practice
Additional free online practice tests for the ACT are provided by Union Test Prep.
Colleges that still require standardised tests accept both the SAT and the ACT – it doesn’t matter which one you take. The best way to decide is to take a free online practice test in both of them, and go with whichever style of exam you prefer.