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Harvard's Unofficial Early Admissions Process

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley 6084 replies100309 threadsFounder Senior Member
edited April 2011 in Harvard University
From Washington Post blogger Valerie Strauss:
Harvard University doesn’t have an official early admissions process, but some students still learn before everybody else whether they are being looked on with favor by the admissions folks.

Select students around the country are quietly receiving word from Harvard about how their application will be greeted during the regular process. That's a boost at a time when it is harder than ever.

The Answer Sheet - Harvard's unofficial early admissions process

Sounds like the same old "likely letters" Ivies and others have sent out for ages. I suppose, though, these take on new meaning when EA is no longer an option.
edited April 2011
31 replies
Post edited by Roger_Dooley on
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Replies to: Harvard's Unofficial Early Admissions Process

  • mcfuggiemcfuggie 174 replies59 threads- Junior Member
    likely letters are only for EXTREMELY special applicants....my friend got one for lax recruiting from harvard
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  • hinsdale1hinsdale1 429 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    Last year, he said, Harvard issued about 300 “likely” notifications. .... Likely responses essentially means a student will be admitted

    I do not believe it would be a stretch to assume that the number of "likely" notifications is larger this year. And how is this substantially different than EA or ED? Seems like a distinction without a difference, at least to me. Harvard appears to welcome the accolades for being sensitive to low-income applicants (whom are theorized to be disadvantaged by early desicions) by not offerering EA or ED, .... but then they eat their cake too.

    Perhaps they should just come out of the proverbial "ED" closet again?
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  • LirazelLirazel 348 replies4 threadsRegistered User Member
    Never understood why Early ACTION is unhelpful to low-income applicants. Their statements against it are all "Well, we don't want to force them to commit before they can compare financial aid offers." Sweethearts, that's early decision, and you had early action.
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  • HatHat 700 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    And how is this substantially different than EA or ED?

    Well, for one thing EA is binding on the college whereas "likely" letters are not. And most "likely" letters are for sports recruits, not academic recruits.
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  • kimathikimathi 614 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    EA is not binding. That's ED. :)
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  • OdysseyTiggerOdysseyTigger 484 replies16 threadsRegistered User Member
    Hat is correct
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26765 replies174 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I predicted this very thing several years ago when H dropped EA. It was a no-brainer that the competition forced them into. Putting the athletes aside, H could not afford to let top candidates languish for months after an early acceptance from Yale or (gasp!) Stanford. Moreover, it is a way to show some early love to the Development candidates (whose family can build buildings), and other hooked candidates (e.g., scions of world leaders/Senators).
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  • xrCalico23xrCalico23 4661 replies12 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Last year, he said, Harvard issued about 300 “likely” notifications. By way of contrast, Dartmouth College, for example, this year offered admission to 444 early decision applicants for this coming fall, 17 fewer than last year. Yale admitted 14.5 percent of its early action applicants for the class of 2015; of 5,257 early applicants, 761 were notified of their acceptances last month.

    I find the article misleading, especially parts such as the one above. Right here it's comparing the number of Harvard likely letters to Dartmouth early decision admits, which makes little sense because schools like Dartmouth and Yale all give out likely letters of their own in addition to having an early admissions round, and so do Cornell and Columbia. (In fact, Dartmouth gives out lots of likely letters) You also cannot assume that Harvard wouldn't be giving out likely letters along with its peers in the Ivy League even if it had retained its early admissions process.
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  • avshockeywavshockeyw 18 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Because Harvard does not have an official early admissions process, and because Harvard (along with all Ivies) is not allowed to officially recruit athletes, that is, award athletic scholarships, etc., they mainly use likely letters instead to help in the admissions process for athletes. Athletic scholarships or invitations extended to athletes from other schools often have a deadline that is much earlier than the April 1st decision date of the Ivy League, meaning that even if an athlete applies to Harvard and gets accepted, s/he may not be able to take advantage of that acceptance because they already committed to another school. In response to this mismatch of offer and response dates, Harvard and the other Ivies use likely letters to let athletes know that they will likely have a spot at the school, so the athlete can compare offers for themselves.

    That being said, a small number of academic likelies are given out each year, but these are extremely rare, and the majority of likely letters do go to recruited athletes.
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  • JHSJHS 18410 replies72 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's worth noting, too, that the Harvard academic likely letters, as far as I know, do not go out before the application deadlines in the fall. They are really nothing more than targeted marketing, and they don't stop anyone -- formally or informally -- from applying to any other school. At most, an academic likely letter might convince someone to withdraw a pending ED2 application somewhere and convert it to RD, but somehow I doubt that the pool of Harvard academic likely letter recipients overlaps much with the pool of ED2 applicants.

    As for athletic likely letters and ED, I always thought that one of the functions of the fall athletic likely letters at places like Dartmouth was to get athletes to submit ED applications and wait until December to hear back officially, when they might have firm offers from other schools that they would have to take or leave in September or October, or they might decide to apply ED to a different school where they had been assured of success. So it's not ED acceptances PLUS likely letters, since lots of the early likely letters are also ED acceptances.
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  • AvidStudentAvidStudent 1155 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I know several people who this year or last year received "likely letters" as recruited athletes from Harvard or Princeton. I'm sure developmental kids receive similar if not greater treatment from these prestigious universities.
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  • HarvardwriterHarvardwriter 2 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    We should never underestimate how important sports and athletes are to ivies... in that world, they truly are the URM and so ivies must try harder to secure them. I was EA at Harvard in my day, while it helped to know I was accepted, I still waited to see financial aid packages from other universities.
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  • glidoglido 5977 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Harvard competes in NCAA DIV I athletics. All of there competition for recruited athletes have rules by which they must abide - they include "signing day." These "likely letters" are only a means to allow the H to let their recuited athletes know that they will get into Harvard and be on the team, so the kids don't go to Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame or an Ivy with an ED program.
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  • WongTongTongWongTongTong 2649 replies85 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    In my interview yesterday, my interviewer emphasized the importance of Harvard's 18 D1 teams, and he said they need to be able to fill of them. So I would imagine most of the likely letters would go to strong athletes.
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  • OdysseyTiggerOdysseyTigger 484 replies16 threadsRegistered User Member
    Would figure most (if not all) of the below lax players will be getting likely letters else would be difficult to be listed as a 2011 recruit - and that's just one team

    The list includes Inside Lacrosse's nos. 9, 16, and 28 ranked rising seniors in the nation all of whom were identified as Harvard commitments in the September 2010 recruiting issue released last August.

    Recruits2011 Database
    ID Div Name Hometown State HighSchool HS_St Position Status College
    31 1 Mahon, Sean Garden City NY Chaminade NY Midfield R Harvard
    52 1 Michel, Keegan Westminster MD McDonogh School MD Midfield R Harvard
    65 1 Jahelka, Stephen Garden City NY Garden City NY Defense R Harvard
    67 1 Fischer, Brian Garden City NY Garden City NY Defense R Harvard
    70 1 Walker, Will Scituate MA Phillips Andover MA Attack R Harvard
    99 1 Brett, James 'Jack' Essex Fells NJ Delbarton School NJ Defense R Harvard
    100 1 Gambitsky, Jake Wantagh NY Wantagh NY Goalie R Harvard
    228 1 Vandervelde, Murphy Wellesley MA St. Sebastian's MA Midfield R Harvard
    419 1 Scalise, Matt Nahant MA St. John's Prep MA Attack R Harvard
    897 1 Wagley, Philip Dallas TX Episcopal Dallas TX Attack R Harvard
    898 1 Stewart, Grove Malvern PA Haverford School PA Attack/Midfield R Harvard
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  • FatumFatum 813 replies63 threadsRegistered User Member
    Sometimes students will approach Harvard and ask for some indication of whether they will be accepted. They are given one of three responses, he said: likely, possible or unlikely to be admitted. Likely responses essentially means a student will be admitted, assuming they don’t flunk out of senior year in high school

    Is this true? I can call Harvard up right now and ask if I'll be admitted or not?

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  • fauvefauve 3500 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Only if you are a highly recruited athlete--then the athlete would ask the coach if a likely letter was possible. If the athlete is a top choice AND academiccally qualified, the coach approaches admissions for the possibliity of a likely letter.
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  • mistergmisterg 290 replies28 threadsRegistered User Member
    One of my friends didn't get a likely letter, but a full-on early admissions package in early March. He was a major extracurricular admit with a great story, on full aid, with pretty average SATs (2250ish).

    Don't try to find rhyme or reason in this process, aside from athlete likelies.
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  • SwatGradSwatGrad 177 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I believe it's more than a likely letter with certain athletes. I know of a star basketball player in Los Angeles who, this past Oct or Nov, announced he was attending Harvard this upcoming fall. He's in with an undoubtedly full ride (based on Fin Aid).

    This is nothing new. Back in the day (and I mean WAY back in the day) I was admitted as a sports recruit to Swarthmore in February and was not part of an ED program, if that even existed.
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  • LobzzLobzz 1808 replies162 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The list includes Inside Lacrosse's nos. 9, 16, and 28 ranked rising seniors in the nation all of whom were identified as Harvard commitments in the September 2010 recruiting issue released last August.

    As early as august?! Talk about ENJOYING senior year!
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