Harvard Outreach Newsletter

124th Issue, December 2023

In this issue:

Early Action admits to the Harvard Class of 2028

View from Dunster House Tower
Weeks Bridge as seen from Dunster House tower

The Harvard Gazette reported on 14 December that 692 students from around the world have been admitted to the Class of 2028 under the Early Action Program out of the 7,921 who applied. The admits contained a healthy contingent from the UK, so many congratulations to you all. Admitted students are not obliged to attend and have until 1st May to make their final decision.

Of the Early Action cohort, 15.5% come from first-generation college backgrounds (the first in their families to go to university), compared with 14% last year. Additionally, 20.8% had their application fees waived due to financial need compared with 19.7% last year. 17% of Early Action admits are from outside the United States, compared with 14% last year.

Deferred applicants. If you have been notified that your application has been deferred, this means that your application will be reviewed again thoroughly during the Regular Action process. If you have any updates to grades or activities, or wish to submit a supplemental letter of recommendation, you may do so using the Upload Materials section of the Applicant Portal.

Regular Action deadline. 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 at least half of the 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.

Harvard’s new application supplement. Applicants for the Class of 2028 were the first to experience Harvard’s reorganised application supplement. A single essay chosen from 10 suggested topics was replaced with five required short-answer questions:

  1. Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard? (200 words max)
  2. Briefly describe an intellectual experience that was important to you. (200 words max)
  3. Briefly describe any of your extracurricular activities, employment experience, travel, or family responsibilities that have shaped who you are. (200 words max)
  4. How do you hope to use your Harvard education in the future? (200 words max)
  5. Top 3 things your roommates might like to know about you. (200 words max)

Asking students to reflect on their own experiences, intellectual interests, plans after college, and living with others, ensures that the Admissions Committee has consistent information to review across applicants.

Director of Admissions Joy St. John commented:

“We continue to attract applications from a diverse range of secondary schools and communities around the world. Students have responded well to this year’s essay questions, using them to share their passions and hopes for the future. We look forward to seeing what these students contribute to the community once they are here.”

Standardised testing to remain optional for another two years. Harvard College continues to allow students to apply without requiring SAT or ACT scores, a change in policy announced three years ago for the admitted classes of 2026-2030.

Visitas weekend. Harvard College will welcome accepted students to campus for Visitas weekend on 14-15 April. At that time, the Class of 2028 will be able to attend classes and events as well as learn about resources and opportunities. Students will receive information about Visitas via the Admitted Student website.

Expansion of student financial support

Harvard’s Griffin Financial Aid Office already provides full financial aid including tuition, housing and food, and all fees, for families with incomes below $85,000 (around £67,000) and typical assets. Nearly a quarter of Harvard College students fall into this category, and they also receive a $2,000 cash grant when they first arrive to help smooth their transition to campus.

The Financial Aid Office has recently expanded its robust support of students receiving full financial aid by providing a further $2,000 grant for students in their Junior (penultimate) year to help with the costs associated with getting ready for post-Harvard life. All financial aid is available to international applicants on the same basis as US citizens.

What you need to be doing right now if you want to apply to US colleges

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. It’s always a good idea to submit your applications a few days before the deadline in case of last minute technical glitches. 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.

Applicants to Harvard and most other US colleges do not have to choose their 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 2024

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
  • Meet vaccination requirements to be able to enter the United States on a student visa if you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in the USA, except in circumstances of medical exemption.

In addition, the Sutton Trust are looking for students who:  

  • 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.
  • Have attended schools with a lower than average progression to higher education, or a higher than average proportion of students who qualify for free school meals.
  • 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.

 The more of the above criteria you meet, the more likely you are to secure a place.

Selection criteria

Students will complete an online application modelled on the US Common Application and Financial Aid forms. This will help the Sutton Trust to conduct a holistic review of your application, and will get students in the mindset of the US admissions process.

  • 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.
  • Character: leadership, service, work ethic, enthusiasm, drive to succeed.
  • Demonstrated interest in US higher education.

Applications: Students should apply online here

Student application form deadline: 11.59pm, Sunday 14 January 2024
School reference form deadline: 11.59pm, Wednesday 17 January 2024

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 US colleges are just as interested in your achievements outside the classroom 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.

A Year in Photos, 2023

Follow this link to the Harvard Gazette to see a photographic record of another extraordinary year at Harvard.

A Christmas Card

A very merry Christmas and happy New Year to all our readers from the Harvard UK Outreach team. See you in 2024!

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