Harvard Outreach Newsletter

128th Issue, April 2024

In this issue:

Video: welcome to new Harvard admits!

Click the photo to play a ‘Welcome’ video from current Harvard students to the Class of 2028

College accepts 1,937 to Class of 2028

The Harvard Gazette has reported that 1,937 students have been accepted to the Class of 2028 from a pool of 54,008 applicants. The admitted students are made up of 692 who were offered admission last December as part of the Early Action Program, and a further 1,245 admitted at the end of March during the regular admissions cycle. This year’s class hails from all 50 US states and from 94 other countries, including an excellent group of candidates from the UK. Women account for more than half (53.1%) of those admitted, while international students make up 15.4% of the class. Students who will be in the first generation of their family to graduate from a four-year college represent 20.5% of the class.

Undergraduates benefit from expansion of financial aid program

Last spring, the Griffin Financial Aid Office announced that students whose family income is less than $85,000 (around £67,000) will receive full financial support to attend Harvard. It also announced last autumn a new launch grant giving students who receive full financial support $2,000 in their junior (penultimate) year to help with costs associated with preparing for life after graduation. This is on top of the $2,000 start-up grant given to first year students on full financial aid as soon as they arrive to help them adjust to life on campus. Nearly 25% of students attend Harvard with no parental contribution required. Financial aid is available to international students on exactly the same basis as US citizens.

To find out how much financial aid you might get if you were admitted to Harvard, see our Net Price Calculator.

The numbers

'Visitas' welcome event for new admits

Visitas, Harvard’s annual welcome event for new admits, will be held on campus on 14-15 April.  There will be the opportunity to attend classes and events as well as learn about resources and opportunities.  For those unable to make the journey to Harvard to attend in person, there will be many online and virtual opportunities to learn more about academic and curricular programs, students, and daily college life.  Students will receive information about Visitas via the Admitted Student Website.

The Harvard Club of the UK is sponsoring its own ‘Welcome’ event for UK admits in mid-May.  All UK admits will receive details in due course.

Information for students in the final year of secondary school who have received offers of admission from Harvard and/or other US colleges

This information is relevant to UK year groups equivalent to the Senior Year of a US High School:

Year 13 (England and Wales)
S6 (Scotland)
Year 14 (Northern Ireland)

Firstly, many congratulations on receiving an offer of admission from one or more US colleges. You have until Wednesday 1st May to accept, decline or defer any offers you have received.

How do I respond to my offer from Harvard? To reply to your offer of admission, to apply for housing, and to find out about your financial aid decision, go to the online portal you have been using throughout your application and respond online.  You will be able to join your classmates on campus in August, when there will plenty of social activities to help you get settled in before you start your classes. 

Harvard’s extensive orientation program for first-years includes:

  • Organised workouts at the Harvard gyms
  • Regular walking tours of campus
  • ‘First Chance Dance’, the opening social of the year for first-years only
  • Training regarding laws, regulations, and university policies
  • Intramural field day, optional day of sports events & games
  • Day of Service – optional day of volunteering around Cambridge and Boston community programs
  • Extracurricular fair
  • Concentrations fair
  • The First-Year Convocation – a formal welcoming event in Harvard Yard with music and speeches, followed by a barbeque (see photo below).

What support is available at Harvard to 'first generation' students - those who are the first in their family ever to go to university?

The First Year Retreat and Experience (FYRE)  is a pre-orientation program of activities and events (taking place this year from 22-27 August) that aims to provide first generation, low income, and under-represented first-year students with the resources and community to feel supported, celebrated, and ready to take ownership of their Harvard experience!

The program will include workshops and presentations from student support services and talks with professors from a variety of disciplines. FYRE Team Leaders will run panels about academics, finances, and social life on campus, and host an empowering open mic session about challenges and resilience at Harvard.

First Year Retreat and Experience - students holding banner with FYRE written on it

What pastoral support is available to first-year students, many of whom will be living away from home for the first time?

First year Harvard students outside their dorm

Every first year student has the following advisors:

  • First Year Advisor –who may be a faculty member, administrator, or graduate student.  This person will assist you with many aspects of your academic experience, such as choosing courses, meeting your degree requirements, considering concentration options, or planning for the summer.  You will meet with your academic adviser regularly throughout the year, and intermittently as you need them.
  • Resident Deans of First-Year Students – take care of the overall well-being of first-year students at Harvard College. They track their students’ academic progress, advise first-year students, and supervise Proctors in their affiliated residences.
  • Proctor – this is an administrator or graduate student who lives in your dormitory and acts as your resource for personal, residential, social, and other issues. Each Proctor oversees an entryway community of approximately 20-40 students, and helps plan residence-based social activities.  In some cases, your Proctor will also serve as your First-Year Adviser.
  • Peer Advising Fellow (PAF) – is an older Harvard student who has been specially trained to offer assistance throughout your first year. PAFs work with a specific dorm entryway, but don’t live in first year dorms. As your peers, PAFs have a unique perspective within the advising team.  They can give you advice on how to balance your curricular and extracurricular choices, how to face the challenges of transitioning to college life, and how to tap into College resources.

Information for students in the penultimate year of secondary school who will be applying to Harvard and/or other US colleges next year

This information is relevant to UK year groups equivalent to the Junior Year of a US High School:

Year 12  (England and Wales) 
S5  (Scotland) 
Year 13  (Northern Ireland)

How does Harvard assess its candidates?

To assess its candidates, the Admissions Office carries out what it calls a ‘whole person review.’  It looks at everything about a candidate, not just grades and scores:

Exams and tests are only one part of the assessment process, and if a student chooses not to take the optional SAT/ACT tests, or does not receive an alumni interview, extra weight is put on other elements shown in the diagram above.

Where can I find further information about the assessment process?  Please read the Admissions Overview on the Harvard College website.  Here is a summary:

Standardized Tests.  The SAT/ACT tests will remain optional at Harvard until 2026 (Class of 2030).  You will not be disadvantaged in any way if you are unable to take them.

Whole Person Review.  Accomplishments in and out of the classroom, community involvement, and personal qualities are all taken into consideration, as well as academic performance.

Financial Aid.  Harvard’s generous financial aid program has been enhanced still further this year.  Students from families with an income of less than £67,000 ($85,000) per year with average assets will receive a free Harvard education.

Where can I find information about Harvard’s application requirements generally?  You will find excellent information in this article.

Do you have any application tips?  Yes. This article contains many useful tips about how to fill out the main application as well as the Harvard supplement.

Can I still practise for the SAT or ACT even if I decide not to take them?  Yes.  All the free online test coaching platforms, such as the Khan Academy and Free ACT Test Prep  are still available to you.  The best way to ensure a good score is to do lots of regular practice.

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