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Should I apply Early Action to Harvard or Yale?

nbachris2788nbachris2788 Registered User Posts: 4,447 Senior Member
edited October 2005 in College Admissions
I was going to apply Early Decision to some school, until I realized that I knew very little to make such a serious, binding commitment. So I decided that I would forego ED and go the regular route instead. However, since Harvard or Yale has the non-binding Early Decision option, I've decided to just take a shot. If I get in, great, more choices for me. If I don't, I don't care that much since it was never my true intention to go to a HYPS school anyway. But choosing between two shiny apples is pretty difficult, and I want to make a semi-rational choice when choosing my EA school, as opposed to a random coin toss. Harvard is Harvard, and Yale is Yale, but is there any discernable difference between the two? I'm leaning towards Harvard because I heard that Yale is "hot" right now, meaning competition is fierce. Not that Harvard is a cakewalk.

I'm not going to bore you with stats and ECs, so I'll just give you the slim sheet:

2350 SAT I (800 CR, 760 M, 790 W)
800 SAT II: U.S. History (gonna take Lit, Math IIC, and Korean)
All A's throughout high school except for grade 9 French
Top 5% in class, may be higher
Biggest EC is football (four years)
A few awards in writing and math
Post edited by nbachris2788 on

Replies to: Should I apply Early Action to Harvard or Yale?

  • sr6622sr6622 Registered User Posts: 3,123 Senior Member
    please bore with me ECs........
  • Sirwatson1Sirwatson1 Registered User Posts: 534 Member
    If that is all you have for an EC you will not get into Harvard or Yale. You are a dime a dozen. At the point where so many people have nearly perfect stats, one must outshine those through essays, recommendations, and ECs.
  • nbachris2788nbachris2788 Registered User Posts: 4,447 Senior Member
    Fine, the crowd has spoken.


    - Football (4 years)
    - Jazz band pianist (3 years)
    - Concert band hornist (4 years)
    - Thinker-upper, organizer, and participant in school's first film festival (still in process)
    - School newspaper (though this is only in my senior year, so probably won't count that much... school has rule that only seniors can write for the paper)
    - school literary club (3 years)

    Also note that this is not a "chances" thread, but more of a discussion about the characteristics about Harvard and Yale, and what kinds of people will best fit into each school. I don't really care what my chances are because if it weren't for Early Action, I probably wouldn't apply to Harvard or Yale. But since there's no other elite school on the East Coast that offers Early Action, it can't possibly hurt me to at least give it a shot.
  • stambliark41stambliark41 Registered User Posts: 2,527 Senior Member
    From what I have seen, Yale is more focused on academics than Harvard (this is referring to admissions policy, not the school itself). That would lend me to believe you have a better chance at Yale than Harvard.

    Football is a very time consuming activity that won't be taken as lightly as some people might think. Are you Varsity? That would help you considerably...

    What I think is more important than EC's themselves are what you make of them in your essay(s). If you can turn football or any of your other "unspectacular" EC's into a spectacular story, than I think you have it made.

    People forget that stats like yours are not a "dime a dozen." People remember that Harvard rejects half of perfect scores, but forget that Harvard accepts half of them also.

    With scores like yours and some clear, sociable activities (which prove you are not just a studier) i think you are in good shape.

    Hopefully I didn't get your hopes too high -- odds are, you will still be rejected. But anyone that thinks you have an "average" chance (i.e. 5-10%) is way off.

    I mentioned that you may have a better shot at Yale, but that was pure speculation. Both are equally selective (whether Yale is hot right now or not) and so difficult to get into that it would be foolish to make your EA decision on which school appears to be easier to get into. Think about what you want from your college education, where you want to live, what you want to do, where you want to end up, etc...if you'd like to provide some of that info maybe I (& some more knowledgeable others) can help you out.

    Sorry if I rambled. :)
  • suzesuze - Posts: 4,479 Senior Member
    Go for it, get your lottery ticket. I'd go for Yale, more of an undergrad focus and a better social life IMO. Then again, if you like city life, Harvard isn't a bad choice, I do love Cambridge. But most important, where do you really want to go? Unless you're a football recruit, your chances at either, along with everyone else who isn't hooked, is slim. Put your ergy into the reality school of your choice.
  • nbachris2788nbachris2788 Registered User Posts: 4,447 Senior Member
    I actually liked your rambling.

    Yes, I'm a Varsity athlete in football. And yes, it takes up a whole lot of time.

    I'm going to take your advice and think of the locations, New Haven vs. Cambridge. I think the academics between the two schools are so close that it's only personal bias that separates them.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 22,380 Super Moderator
    Are you being recruited by either school? My guess would be that if you are not being recruited for your sport by either school you have nothing that really stands out from the usual suspects that are applying. The worse case scenario is that you get deferred to RD then you just apply RD to the other school and wait out the process.
  • A2Wolves6A2Wolves6 Registered User Posts: 4,232 Senior Member
    People are talking about football as a much worse EC than something like debate. To the OP - it's not. Football takes up a lot of time, builds up good work ethic and team work, and makes you a better person. It's not a underextraordinary EC. If anything, it's a better EC than what 90% of the applicants to this school will have. You don't see many people on the Football team with the stats you have.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,808 Senior Member
    I honestly believe that Harvard and Yale are two of the most similar schools in the country in just about every important way. Academically, residentially, and (most importantly) in terms of the very active, diverse, ambitious student bodies that devote themselves to extracurriculars with unbounded energy, you're looking at basically the same situation. If you were a singer, I'd point out a couple of differences, but I don't think that's relevant for you.

    The only way to make an informed decision is to visit both and see which feels more like home to you. If that is just impossible, and you're really coming down to flipping a coin, my feeling is that Harvard is the same product in a better location. Your mileage may vary.
  • nbachris2788nbachris2788 Registered User Posts: 4,447 Senior Member
    Thanks for all your replies.
This discussion has been closed.