We get many questions each year about how to fill out our application, which consists of the Common Application or the Universal College Application and our own Supplement. In order to provide greater transparency about our admissions process and to help relieve applicants' anxiety, we asked members of our admissions committee to offer helpful tips about how to apply to Harvard.
We realize that not all students have access to adequate college counseling. We hope these application tips will be particularly helpful to the large number of students who have counselors with far too many students to counsel – or who have no counselor at all. We also suggest that you take advantage of the many, inexpensive (or free) publications available in bookstores, online, or accessed for no cost in guidance offices or libraries.
Applying to college should not entail elaborate efforts to "package" students in ways that stretch the truth or credibility. The best application is one in which the real student comes through, and it's your job as the applicant to make that happen.
We hope these tips will help reduce your anxiety surrounding college admissions, expedite your application process, and free you to devote your time to more important endeavors such as high school course work, extracurricular activities and family responsibilities.
In fact, we believe that many students would benefit from stepping back from the pressures of high school and college. We hope you will take the time to read Time-Out or Burn-Out for the Next Generation, a paper we wrote to offer some thoughts about how to do so – including taking a "gap year". We have also included links to blog entries about college admissions that we wrote for the New York Times.
To use the Application Tips, click on the small red Harvard shield that appears next to some questions. The tip about that section will pop up on your screen.