geex! i just read everything you guys posted on this thread. and i have to admit i'm kinda down now.
anyhow, i have a few questions:
1. which minorities are urm?
2. how did you guys figure out what you were passionate about? (this is really hard for me)
I disagree with the first reply to your post...(don't remember the name, lol)...if you have a 4.0 uw, 4.5 w--and don't quote me on this because I know nothing about weighted grades, but I know that 4.0 uw is all A's--and have taken THE BEST classes your school has to offer, that's a good thing, very good. You can take your SAT IIs again, and I would definitely advise that, just to show admissions officers that you are serious about improving. 2000...I don't know exactly how that stacks up on the old SAT scale (my class was the last one to take the "normal" (haha) 1600 one, and I got a 1510 my soph year and decided I was done...I have no idea what a comparable score would be). Mostly, I advise you to keep your grades up and retake your SATs if possible...I would also HIGHLY advise that you take the ACT, as it measures the curriculum you've taken. I think people are getting sick of me talking about "activities" and (especially) "passion", but there you go...those can and will distinguish you from other applicants.
I hope that helped! Again, it's not necessarily scores...1/2 of 1600 (2400, whatever ) applicants are turned away because they won't fit into the class. You have to be better than just a brain--you have to be a person with enormous potential, or at least that's how I see my classmates.
I have to say, I don't think minorities are "under-represented" at Harvard, but I can't seem to find any statistics...anyone help me out? Maybe it's half white, half "everything else" (no offense to anyone!) but that's fairly represented, I think, all things considered...
Let me add to lowellbelle's advice on ec's and passion. Remember that most of the other valid candidates will have exceptional scores and grades. If I remember correctly (Byerly, please correct me if I am wrong) these will be summarized in your admissions folder by a clerk - so that the admissions officers don't have to root around looking for them - or convert your school's special GPA into something understandable, etc. It is going to take them maybe 1-2 minutes to evaluate these items in the context of your school, economic status, etc.
Then - or maybe before - are the items that put a face to the numbers. Your GC report - teacher's recs - and what you have to say about you - your essays. These take longer to evaluate. They may provoke thought and discussion. If something about these materials finds resonance with the reader AND you have a talent or quality that Harvard needs to build its class ... then you've got a shot. Its still a long shot (Harvard only accepted about one out of fourteen of its RD applicants this year) but if you are a bit of a risk taker, go for it.
if you read the RD admissions thread that seems to have resurfaced, you can decide if you see a pattern or not. As far as individual admissions results go - I didn't see a pattern this year - where I did last (of course, this could be me being thick). Overall - I see them forming a class according to an instititutional recipe. That's fine - and I certainly wouldn't want the responsibility of being a Harvard admissions officer. But it makes it rough on students who, basically, have done everything right. The good news, of course, is that there are many wonderful schools out there, and if you select a good list you will be somewhere fabulous next year.
Overall - I see them forming a class according to an instititutional recipe.
Well...that's really the only way to create a well balanced class. And yes, maybe it's "unfair" in some people's eyes. However, what other way do you choose who gets in? Just top scores? I didn't have perfect SATs; even if I did, I'd hate to sit in a classroom where everyone has 1600s (now 2400s).
I'd like a good mix of poets, musicians, athletes, passionate future politicians (who might become corrupt one day....who knows?) around me. Frankly, if this is the recipe you're referring to, I like the dish.
Surely there's no one way to get into Harvard. Some people get in because they're geniuses (or should I say, genii), some because they're sports fanatics, others because they're well-rounded but not amazing at anything in particular, others because they're amazing at one particular EC, others because they're just set for life like Bill Gates, others because they wrote some incredible essays about 'moving' and 'life-changing' events. Others because they hired an admissions coach. I mean, there's not much point in this thread at all.