Harvard Outreach Newsletter
121st Issue, September 2023
In this issue:
Organised by the US-UK Fulbright Commission and EducationUSA, College Day provides prospective undergraduates, parents and teachers the opportunity to meet representatives from over 120 American universities.
Either Saturday 23 September (2:00 pm – 7:00 pm)
or Sunday 24 September (10:30 am – 4:30 pm)
You can register to attend the event for a maximum of two hours, either on Saturday or Sunday, but not both. The event is the same on both days.
Register here for USA College Day.
You may select only ONE entry time over the two days. You will have two hours to spend at the fair, so select your time slot wisely and arrive promptly at your start time.
ILEC Conference Centre, 47 Lillie Road, London SW6 1UD Nearest tube: West Brompton (District Line or Overground) Click here for a map.
Free to attend but you must register in advance. You will receive an email and/or text (if you consented) 24 hours in advance of the event which will be scanned to check you into the fair.
Tips for making the most of USA College Day
Get the most out of USA College Day by planning in advance.
- Once you have registered, check out the list of exhibitors and make a shortlist of the stands you wish to visit. Check the location of the stands on the floor plan and decide in which order to visit them.
- Explore the websites of all the colleges on your shortlist. Use the information on the website to decide which question(s) you want to ask when you speak to the college representatives. Students who have done their homework and ask pertinent questions will make a good impression to the college reps at each stand.
Come and see us at the Harvard stand!
Question: I’m interested in studying [name of subject] in the USA. What is Harvard like for the study of this subject?
- Harvard is a world class institution for studying most subjects across the arts and sciences.
- When you apply to Harvard College, you don’t apply for a particular subject, you just apply to get in, and for the first 18 months, you can study whatever you like except for a small core curriculum that takes up 25% of your time. For the other 75% you can choose from 3,700 different courses across the arts and sciences.
- The idea is that you get to try out lots of different things before making a final decision about what will be your main study area, or ‘concentration’.
- When you choose your concentration (which other US colleges often call a ‘major’) there are 50 areas to choose from, including a ‘Special Concentration’ where you can create your own combination of courses.
What Harvard looks for in its applicants
Question: What is Harvard looking for in prospective students?
- Admissions decisions are made through a ‘whole person’ review – we look at everything about you, not only your exam grades.
- Your extracurricular activities and personal qualities are just as important to us as high academic achievement.
- Admission to Harvard is not a reward for what you have done in the past – it is our investment in what we believe you are capable of doing in the future.
Question: When is the best time to apply?
- Applying to US universities is a marathon, not a sprint, but is perfectly manageable provided you plan in advance and start early.
- Refer to the application timetable on our website for the specific tasks you need to undertake in each school year.
- If you intend to take a gap year, the best time to apply is while you are still at school and have the support of your teachers and advisers. If you are then offered a place at a US college, you can defer your entry and start your degree the following year.
Question: How do I go about applying to Harvard? What application materials do I need to submit?
- Although there are different types of application form, UK students will almost certainly use the Common Application Form (or ‘Common App’ as it is usually known), as it is accepted by the largest number of US colleges. It is an online form that goes live each year on 1st August, and UK students should complete as much of it as possible during the summer holidays at the end of Year 12 (England and Wales), S5 (Scotland), or Year 13 (Northern Ireland).
- The Common App includes a Student Essay, which is the American equivalent of the UCAS Personal Statement. But the style of the Student Essay is very different from the type of essay an applicant would write for UCAS, as it is all about the student as a person, not about the subjects he or she might study. So applicants should always read through the sample essays on our website before starting to draft their own.
- If you are particularly talented in music, dance, art or writing, it is fine to include videos of your performances, art portfolios and publications as part of your application.
- Standardised tests: applicants can take either the SAT or the ACT if they wish, but note that these tests are now optional at Harvard and many other US colleges.
- Teachers who are asked by students to provide references should look at the sample teacher references provided on the Harvard UK Admissions website.
- The references need to be different in style and content to the type of reference you would write for a UK university.
- Because an applicant’s personal qualities are an important part of the admissions process, a selection of UK applicants are offered an interview with a volunteer who already holds a degree from Harvard. Face to face interviews take place in a public space such as a coffee shop. They can also take place remotely by Zoom, WhatsApp or phone. It is more of a wide ranging conversation than an interview, and allows students to talk about their interests, ambitions and challenges, and to find out more about what life is like at Harvard.
Question: How much does it cost to go to Harvard?
- Harvard has a generous financial aid program, and international students are treated in the same way as US citizens. All admitted students have access to financial aid if they need it, and the amount of money each student is offered is means-tested against family income.
- For family incomes of £67,000 per year or less (at current exchange rates), the student will almost certainly pay nothing. The university will pay for tuition fees, food, housing, and also provide a book allowance and travel allowance. Students on full financial aid will also receive a $2,000 cash grant as soon as they arrive to buy the equipment they will need to start their degree. Additional funds are available for studying abroad in the summer holidays.
- For family incomes of between £67,000 and £120,000, the family will be expected to pay between 0% and 10% of their income towards university costs, depending on their other assets.
- Families with incomes above £120,000 will be asked to pay proportionately more than 10% based on their individual circumstances.
- Financial aid is given in the form of grants, not loans, so students do not have to pay them back after they graduate.
Question: Where will I live if I go to Harvard?
- All students are guaranteed housing on campus for all four years. Harvard is very keen on creating a thriving campus community.
- First year students all live in dorms on Harvard Yard – right in the hub of the university.
- In years 2, 3 and 4, students move to one of 12 residential houses. Each house has its own library, dining hall, gym, and social activities, and all of them are within walking distance of Harvard Yard.
Life outside the classroom
Question: What is Harvard like for extracurricular activity?
- Students are expected to become fully involved in the life of the university, and there is a vast range of activities to choose from, including over 450 university recognised student clubs, 42 premier league sports teams, 60 student productions a year in drama and dance, a daily student newspaper (Harvard Crimson) and 80+ community service groups.
We look forward to seeing you at USA College Day on 23 or 24 September!
On 30 August the incoming Class of 2027 converged on Harvard Yard during move-in day, assisted by parents and an assortment of volunteers including resident deans, administrators, Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana, and incoming Harvard President Claudine Gay. The convivial spirit of move-in day survived a torrential downpour, and extra hands and umbrellas were in abundant supply.
Welcoming ceremony for Class of 2027
In her address to the incoming Class of 2027 on 4 September, President Claudine Gay urged them to fearlessly embrace personal transformation.