Harvard Outreach Newsletter

127th Issue, March 2023

In this issue:

Admissions decisions for Class of 2028 to be released on 28th March

For those of you who applied to Harvard College by the Regular Action deadline of early January, admissions decisions are due to be posted during the evening of Thursday 28th March 2024 at around 7.00pm Eastern Time (12 midnight British Summer Time).  Early Action decisions were released in December, but if your application was deferred to the Regular Action cycle, it will be fully reconsidered alongside other RA candidates, and you will receive a final decision on 28th March.  The reply deadline for admitted students will be Wednesday 1st May 2024.

What should I do if I’m offered a place at Harvard or other US colleges?

  • Celebrate!
  • 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.
  • ‘Visitas’ – Harvard’s annual welcome event for admitted students – will take place on campus on Sunday and Monday 14/15 April 2024, and will enable admits to meet their future classmates from all over the world. For admitted students unable to visit the Harvard campus, there will be many online and virtual opportunities to learn more about the academic and extracurricular programs, students, and daily college life.

What should I do if I’m 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 their waitlist 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 should I do if I’m 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 further developing an extracurricular skill or activity (or any combination of the above).

Essential tasks if you wish to apply to American colleges in the future

If you are in one of the last four years of secondary school, it is never too early to start thinking about studying in the USA.  In the table below, you can see the essential tasks you will need to do in each school year if your ambition is to study for an undergraduate degree at an American university in the next few years.

Timeline for US applications

School Year
Task List

Years 10 & 11 (England & Wales)

S3 & S4 (Scotland)

Years 11 & 12 (Northern Ireland)

Work hard throughout these two years and get excellent grades for your GCSEs or Scottish National 5s, as they will act as the gateway to whatever comes afterwards. 

Start to develop your extracurricular interests, as US colleges will expect you to have significant achievement outside the classroom (in any activity or endeavour) in addition to academic excellence. 

Summer Holiday

Use part of your summer holiday to undertake work experience, community service, or to further develop an interest or activity.

Year 12  (England & Wales)

S5 (Scotland)

Year 13 (Northern Ireland)

Start researching the US college system, and by the end of the school year, identify a short list of 5-6 colleges to which you might apply when the application forms go live in August. 

Early in your research, establish which US colleges on your initial long list provide financial aid to international students, and use this as one of the factors to help you identify your final short list. 

Check whether the standardised tests (SAT or ACT) are optional or compulsory at your short listed colleges, and if you decide to take the tests, do plenty of practice using the free online coaching sites. 

Summer Holiday

Check which application forms are accepted by your short listed colleges and complete as much of them as possible during the summer.  The two most common application platforms are the Common Application Form and the Coalition for College, but some colleges use their own individual forms. 

In keeping with the previous year, use part of your summer holiday to undertake work experience, community service, or to further develop an interest or activity.

Autumn Term

Year 13  (England & Wales)

S6 (Scotland)

Year 14 (Northern Ireland)

Compile all application materials and chase up your referees

Submit admissions and funding applications (early deadlines in November; regular deadlines in January) 

Receive early admissions decisions in mid-December

Spring Term

Year 13  (England & Wales)

S6 (Scotland)

Year 14 (Northern Ireland)

Receive regular admissions decisions in late March

Accept / decline any offers by 1st May (admission can usually be deferred if you wish to take a gap year)

Summer Holiday

Apply for your visa

Read all travel and accommodation information from the college you are attending

Read the pre-departure section of the US/UK Fulbright Commission website

August / September

Begin study in the USA

Where to go for further information on the topics covered in the table above

General information for applicants to Harvard
“There is no such thing as a typical Harvard student.”  
See Harvard’s Guide to Preparing for College

How to research the US college system
“What are you looking for in a university education?”
Read the article Researching US Colleges in the January 2024 edition of this newsletter.  

Financial Aid 
“Identify colleges that provide financial aid for international students.”
Read the article Step by Step Process for International Applicants in the February 2024 edition of this newsletter. 

Standardized Tests
“Standardized tests are now optional at around 75% of US colleges.”
Read the article Standardized tests – should I still take them? in the January 2024 edition of this newsletter. 

Two main application platforms: Common Application and Coalition for College
“Harvard and many other colleges accept both application types – but some will only accept one or the other, or have their own individual application forms.” 
Read the article Online application forms for US colleges in the July 2023 edition of this newsletter.

Early and regular application deadlines
“Many American colleges provide an option called ‘Restrictive Early Action’ or just ‘Early Action’ which allows you to apply to one US college earlier than the others.”
Read the article What’s the difference between ‘Early Action’ and ‘Regular Action’ when applying to US colleges? in the October 2023 edition of this newsletter.

New information for parents and families

In the January 2024  edition of this newsletter, the main article was about parental support for students applying to university. 

Parents will be delighted to know that Harvard College has recently launched a new information guide for parents and families, which includes tips on academic work, extracurricular activities and college applications for students in the last four years of high school. 

The Admissions Office has also created a new webpage for parents and families. The page contains sections of the following topics:

  • Overview
  • Visiting Harvard
  • Current Family Resources
  • Family Weekend
  • Admissions Information
  • Financial Aid
  • Academic Opportunities
  • Residential Programs and Services

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