In this issue:
- Full return to campus planned for the Fall 2021 semester.
- Results of mini-survey into the main sources of information used by a group of UK applicants admitted to Harvard this year.
- Updated information for students applying to Harvard this autumn for entry in 2022.
- Updates from UK qualification authorities about how they will recognise learner achievement this summer.
Full return to campus planned for the Fall 2021 semester
Harvard College is planning for a full return to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, when all students are expected to be able to return to campus-based learning. As of 17 May 2021 the USA was designated as an ‘amber list’ country by the UK Government, which means that you are allowed to travel to the USA but on your return to the UK you must take COVID-19 tests before and after arrival. The Government will review the ‘red/amber/green’ lists every month, and with the US vaccination program continuing swiftly, it is highly likely that the USA will be moved to the ‘green’ list and that current restrictions will be lifted before students return to the UK for the January vacation.
Regarding the return of international students, the Harvard College website states:
We are eager to welcome our international students back to campus, but we also recognize that they may face particular hurdles. Students should confidently apply for visas knowing that we will offer in-person instruction. We recognize that some students may confront delays in visa processing that impact their ability to come to campus and the College will work directly with these students to help them navigate their program options.
For full information about the plans, please see Planning for Fall 2021 on the website.
Results of mini-survey into the main sources of information used by a group of UK applicants admitted to Harvard this year
This information is relevant to students in the following UK year groups who are thinking of applying to Harvard in the next two years:
Years 11 & 12 (England and Wales)
S4 & S5 (Scotland)
Years 12 & 13 (Northern Ireland)
There is a huge quantity of information online for those who are thinking of applying to Harvard and other US colleges in the next two years. But where to start? In a (completely unscientific!) mini-survey, we asked 10 UK students who have gained entry to Harvard College starting this autumn to tell us what first motivated them to apply, and where their main sources of information came from when they were compiling their applications.
Who or what was the source of your original motivation for applying to Harvard? (e.g. a teacher, a friend, a parent, a school talk, a website, social media etc.)
- Family members.
- I was always interested in going to university abroad to gain new experiences, and I also didn’t really like the restrictive nature of the UK higher education system. I applied for the Sutton Trust US Programme and was successful, so began to strongly consider higher education in the US. I specifically chose Harvard after research, which made me realise the school was a good fit for me.
- News article stating that Yale and the Ivy Leagues were accepting more children from disadvantaged backgrounds with full financial aid in Year 11. Then I heard that a student from [a sixth form college] had gotten to MIT and so I applied to [the same college] with hopes of going to America.
- School talk. [This was one of the Harvard UK Outreach presentations: ‘Study in the USA – is it for you?’]
- My mother.
- Checking out the Harvard website, as well as some promotional videos on YouTube was enough for me to consider applying; a school talk I attended in [my home town] solidified it. [The school talk was another Harvard UK Outreach presentation, this time at a different school to the one the student attended.]
- Social media / myself.
- Myself – I knew that if I didn’t apply I would always wonder “what if”.
- Partly a friend who encouraged me to apply as he was applying to the US for sports, which then led to me researching the universities online.
- Originally became aware of the US education system through a number of sites and blogs on google, then found out about Harvard in particular through their official website.
During the application process, please rate the importance of the following sources of information by rating them as follows:
1 = My main source of information.
2 = I often used this information source.
3 = I occasionally used this information source.
4 = I never used this information source.
The bar chart below shows the relative importance of each source of information for our respondents:
The Harvard-specific sources of information mentioned were:
- The main Harvard College website
- The Harvard UK Admissions website
- Harvard Admissions Office YouTube channel
Other general sources of information on US colleges included:
- The US-UK Fulbright Commission
- This PrepScholar article
- College Confidential forum
- Study in the USA Newsletters
- The College Vine website
While there was no single information source that was overwhelmingly used by this small sample of students, they did gain most of their information from the same group of websites. This should be helpful to those of you who are just starting on your journey through the application process, as you will be able to focus on the most useful sources of information right from the outset. Students who successfully apply for undergraduate study at Harvard and other top US colleges tend to be self-starters who are highly motivated to do the online research necessary to put together a strong application.
Updated information for students applying to Harvard this autumn for entry in 2022
This information is relevant to the following UK year groups:
Year 12 (England and Wales)
Year 13 (Northern Ireland)
Apart from the fact that the SAT and ACT standardised tests have been made optional for the second year in a row, the application process for Harvard this coming autumn will be much the same as a normal year. For further details, see the Admissions Update for the 2021-2022 Application Cycle.
- Standardised Tests. Although many US colleges (including Harvard) do not require SAT or ACT tests to be completed during the current (2021-22) application cycle, this is not the same everywhere, 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.
- Summer Exam Grades. Some UK students will be able to take their exams as normal this summer, but for others, grades will be based on teacher-assessed coursework and online assignments. Many students around the world are in the same predicament, so you can rest assured that you will not be disadvantaged in any way if your grades are teacher-assessed this year.
- Whole Person Review. Scores and grades are only one part of the process. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom, community involvement, and personal qualities are all taken into consideration. Students who have been limited in the activities they can pursue due to the Covid-19 pandemic will not be disadvantaged.
- Financial Aid. Harvard’s financial aid program will not be affected in any way. Students from families with an income of less than £50,000 per year with average assets are still likely to receive a free Harvard education. Calculate your estimated scholarship using Harvard’s Net Price Calculator.
Other US colleges will have a similar message on their websites, so make sure you check out all the colleges on your shortlist.
Statements by UK Qualification Authorities
UK qualification authorities have published information about how they will recognise learner achievement for school students this summer. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate qualification bodies so students should check the relevant links for their country.
How GCSEs, AS and A Levels will be awarded in summer 2021
Full details can be found in the Ofqual document Student guide to awarding – summer 2021
Scotland: Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
Revised model for delivering National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results in 2021
The SQA is the executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible for accrediting educational awards. On 16 February 2021 it released a revised model for delivering Scottish exam results in 2021.
Wales: Qualifications Wales
Guidance on alternative arrangements for approved GCSEs, AS and A levels
Click here for the latest version of the guidance on alternative arrangements for approved GCSEs, AS and A levels, summer 2021.
Click here for information for learners taking exams in summer 2021 and 2022.
Northern Ireland: Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CEA)
Awarding GCSE, AS and A Level Qualifications Summer 2021
Please go to the student area on the CEA website to see a short video guide for students explaining how GCSE, AS and A Level qualifications will be awarded in summer 2021.
If you enjoyed reading this newsletter and wish to receive future newsletters, click here to subscribe.