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How hard is it to transfer into Harvard?

SamonuhSamonuh Posts: 1,051- Senior Member
edited October 2011 in Harvard University
Yes, I realize that there is probably an overabundance of these threads, but I always prefer to hear responses specifically aimed towards me. Basically, Harvard is my dream school. I have such a passion to attend Harvard College it's almost sickening at times (not trying to sound mawkish). However, I completely screwed up my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I am a senior in high school now, and I have gotten all As and taken 8 APs since the beginning of junior year, somehow managing to get within the Top 10% of my class. However, my cumulative UW GPA is still only a 3.56 (first two years were BAD). I am applying this year, but to be frank and terse, I know I have no shot (only ~2200 superscore SAT, ~2100 in one sitting, and a few decent ECs).

So, my plans right now consist of getting into a local college such as Lafayette College or Lehigh University. These are not bad schools, I know. But they are just not where I want to be. So, my question is, if I am able to maintain a 4.0 at one of these colleges my freshman year of college, will I have a shot at transferring into Harvard? I know I will be facing discouraging odds, but I am also extremely determined at getting into Harvard. It's just the place I need to be (yes, I know that's a bold statement, but I don't care.)

Also, what are the disadvantages of transferring when it comes to matriculating into the college community and transferring credits?
Post edited by Samonuh on
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Replies to: How hard is it to transfer into Harvard?

  • calimcalim Posts: 9Registered User New Member
    Honestly, you may have an easier time getting into Harvard for graduate school. Transferring is very difficult and high school performance is still taken into account.

    If you just work really hard for 4 years of college, Harvard grad school should be no less attainable to you than applying to Harvard undergrad is to a high school senior.

    I think they want to see consistent performance on your part, and how better than to just succeed consistently in college and looking forward.

    It may not be productive to enter college with a foot out the door, hoping that you can leave first chance you get.
  • placido240placido240 Posts: 636- Member
    To transfer in to Harvard, you essentially need to be a highly-recruited athlete. Work on your forward pass . . .

    It is a myth that you can transfer in on the basis of grades or academic performance. Harvard may take one or so a year for some research emphasis that is unique to Harvard and to that person and who is supported by a faculty member, but absent that, you need to be an athlete. Remember, the Ivies love love love athletes -- they're just not as upfront about it as Stanford.
  • SamonuhSamonuh Posts: 1,051- Senior Member
    It may not be productive to enter college with a foot out the door, hoping that you can leave first chance you get.

    I know, but I just have no idea how I'm going to be happy at a school that I don't even want to attend...
  • sandiego4866sandiego4866 Posts: 148Registered User Junior Member
    The Grad School recommendation is excellent. UG lateral transfers from one highly selective school to another is possible. Transferring from a less selective college to a more selective university, in my opinion, is the same odds as winning the lottery.
  • WindCloudUltraWindCloudUltra Posts: 1,761Registered User Senior Member
    To transfer in to Harvard, you essentially need to be a highly-recruited athlete. Work on your forward pass . . .

    It is a myth that you can transfer in on the basis of grades or academic performance. Harvard may take one or so a year for some research emphasis that is unique to Harvard and to that person and who is supported by a faculty member, but absent that, you need to be an athlete. Remember, the Ivies love love love athletes -- they're just not as upfront about it as Stanford.

    Seriously people. Where in the world do you get your information from? The above is completely untrue.
  • SamonuhSamonuh Posts: 1,051- Senior Member
    ^^^I read on another thread that you were an admitted transfer applicant (at least I think, I may be wrong...). May I know what your stats were and what your feelings about the transfer process are?
  • WindCloudUltraWindCloudUltra Posts: 1,761Registered User Senior Member
    @Samonuh: That was ages ago. I'm certainly not a recent transfer. I'm sure my stats are floating on CC somewhere, if you can dig them out. I'd rather not post them again.

    I'm not sure I understand what you are referring to by 'transfer process'? If you mean the application process, it's very similar to the undergrad application. Essay, transcript, recommendations etc. Of course, asking HS teachers for recommendations is considerably easier and less awkward than asking college professors for recommendations to...transfer away from the school where they are employed.

    If you're talking about what I thought of Harvard, let's just say I had a great time, made some great friends, and do not regret for a moment having transferred. Nonetheless, I still have very fond feelings for NU and Chicago, but perhaps some of it is just nostalgia. There's really nothing in Boston that's comparable to the grandeur of walking down the Magnificent Mile. Not that NU students went into the heart of Chicago all the often...
  • deadhead654deadhead654 Posts: 303Registered User Member
    Don't they accept like 16 kids a semester - 1%?
  • GordonTheGekkoGordonTheGekko Posts: 215Registered User Junior Member
    All selective colleges have extremely low transfer rates.

    Harvard accepted 12 students (equates to about one student per house), if I recall correctly, last year. A couple years ago, they accepted ZERO, because nobody had dropped out or moved.

    If you want to anyways, you can send in your transfer app, but seriously don't count on it. I've heard directly from a Stanford admissions officer that transfers are accepted because they cannot receive something at their current school, e.g. a homosexual at USNA who wants to come out of the closet (this example was before the DADT overturn-ment :)). Frankly I don't think there are any silver bullets, at least that I know of, that will boost your transfer app. 6% is one thing and there are plenty of schools under this number, but 0-1% is a different ball game.

    Whatever you do, please don't set your hopes on it. You should be thinking about grad school, and more importantly what you are going to do that's effective now, before and after grad school. Is your ultimate goal to work on wall street? If so, then start now - practice and learn. Nobody is stopping you, and the only think required to do your dreams is your brain, not a degree or acceptance.



    EDIT: one other thing, recruitment is no guarantee for transfer. You're going to have to be stellar to do a transfer recruitment.
  • DwightEisenhowerDwightEisenhower Posts: 1,704Registered User Senior Member
    It is a myth that you can transfer in on the basis of grades or academic performance. Harvard may take one or so a year for some research emphasis that is unique to Harvard and to that person and who is supported by a faculty member, but absent that, you need to be an athlete. Remember, the Ivies love love love athletes -- they're just not as upfront about it as Stanford.

    As WCU pointed out, this is completely false.

    I would advise you, OP, to not plan to transfer. Apply to the best schools for which you have a realistic shot, get into some of them, pick one of them at you really really like, then go there and fall in love. If after a year you still want to transfer, fine, but it's an unrealistic goal to plan your college career around.
  • SamonuhSamonuh Posts: 1,051- Senior Member
    What good college will accept a 3.56 GPA?
  • exultationsyexultationsy Posts: 1,100Registered User Senior Member
    If you're at the point where you're asking that question, you're at the point where you should get off the forum part of CC and use one of the which-college-is-best quiz type things; CC has its SuperMatch, CollegeBoard has an equivalent...(and it probably is worth your while to try multiple such applications.) They can and will give you a much more complete list of suggestions, based on a much more complete picture of your potential application, than the human posters on this forum.
  • JHSJHS Posts: 14,014Registered User Senior Member
    There is only a handful of colleges where an A- GPA is any kind of issue at all. Teaching jobs are so hard to come by that the quality of faculty up and down the prestige ladder in American universities is wonderful, and the facilities have never been better. Almost anywhere you go, you will find pockets of really excellent faculty and smart, committed students, some of them smarter and more committed than you. If you challenge yourself, you can create a Harvard for yourself in hundreds of colleges. The difference between Harvard and them is that at Harvard you could only take advantage of an infinitesimally small percentage of the available opportunities, and somewhere else you might be using 4-5% of the available opportunities. Pick someplace you like, and suck it dry. Then, and only then, when you and your teachers know you have maxed out on what you can learn there, you might be able to talk about transferring to Harvard or one of the dozens of other institutions whose ceilings would far exceed what you could benefit from as an undergraduate.

    Wean yourself of your Harvard obsession. It's not realistic -- for you or for anybody. It's not attractive. At all. It's arrogant, self-involved, and poorly informed. It is likely to make you bitter and unhappy for no good reason.

    If you play poker, you know it's easier to win with a great hand, but that over the long haul the people who can play the hands they are dealt well take a lot of money from the people who get lucky hands. Instead of whining about how much you want to go to Harvard and how terrible your fate is, why don't you figure out what you want from a college, do some research, and figure out how to get that from colleges that will accept you. If you are smart enough to take advantage of Harvard, you are smart enough to do that. And if you aren't smart enough to do that, you would get your guts ripped out at Harvard or anywhere like it.
  • WindCloudUltraWindCloudUltra Posts: 1,761Registered User Senior Member
    I'll second everything JHS wrote. And I'll repeat something I've posted elsewhere, ages ago: "No one HAS to go to Harvard." In fact, I've always wondered whether it's Harvard that makes the people, or the people who make Harvard. I've always tended to think it's the latter.
  • RenegadeJRenegadeJ Posts: 178Registered User Junior Member
    I know someone in my church youth group that transferred to Harvard from Temple University. He had a 4.0 GPA before he transferred (chemistry major) and in high school he had a 3.8 unweighted and a 33 ACT. I don't know what his extracurriculars were, but he was not a recruited athlete (I'm talking to you Placido...)

    To answer your question, it is definitely possible if you apply yourself, as long as it isn't in a creepy Harvard fanboy way. I'm a big believer in the idea that you will end up where you are meant to be. If you are meant to get into Harvard you will get in, but don't expect to get in if you don't have near-perfect grades, great standardized test scores, and amazing ECs which are at Harvard's level.
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