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Is Harvard really "harder" to get in compared to other ivies?

CSYHP322CSYHP322 36 replies7 threads Junior Member
edited March 2012 in Harvard University
Hi, I am a high school junior student who is really interested in colleges. I have been looking for top business colleges such as Columbia, Chicago, Stanford, and Harvard. I am about

SAT: 2300 ~ 2400 (projected)
GPA: 4.1 (approximately top 1.5%)
12APs with lots of extracurricular activities and relevant outside school actives/awards. (I wouldn't bombard you with the details since this isn't a typical "chance me?" thread. I do not want to waste your time.)

I noticed that the acceptance rate difference between Harvard (7.2%) and another ivy league college, Columbia (9.5%), was extremely small. Especially, Princeton's acceptance rate (8.8%) was pretty close to that of Harvard.

Now given the reputation of Harvard, far more students, who do not necessary fit the "criteria" apply for Harvard just because it is famous. (i.e. It's the best college in the world, why don't I simply give it a try?) On the other hand, students who are applying for Princeton or Columbia are more likely to be confident with their decision. For example, I am acknowledged of the fact that Columbia does have a great undergraduate economics course and that New York City is also a vibrant place to live in. I am also confident that my "background/scores" are pretty close to those of most ivy league college applicants.

Harvard's 92.8% include those who applied for Harvard without much thoughts, while Columbia's 90.5% include those who applied with sufficient knowledge about their statuses.

My main question is, Is Harvard really "harder" to get in compared to other top schools such as Princeton, Columbia, and Stanford.?

I'm looking for a very general answer.

Thank you for your time.
edited March 2012
33 replies
Post edited by CSYHP322 on
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Replies to: Is Harvard really "harder" to get in compared to other ivies?

  • kathieh1kathieh1 646 replies12 threads Member
    I'll just ask.. harder for who? At the rates they accept people, it comes down to particular readers on applications and even other factors over which you'd have no control. You could get lucky or unlucky at any of these schools. I doubt if it's enough easier/harder to make a significant difference to a sample of one - you. Good luck.
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  • NihilityNihility 536 replies75 threads Member
    Well, I'm going to allow others to answer this post, but I felt that your final question should be addressed. You asked if Harvard is harder to get into than Stanford. The answer is no. Stanford will easily have the lowest acceptance rate ever this year; hovering right around 6%.
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  • CSYHP322CSYHP322 36 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thanks! I meant in general. A very general question as in "Is Harvard really harder than Princeton? Just because it's Harvard?"
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  • CSYHP322CSYHP322 36 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thank You! Having lived in New England, this weather is actually one of the reasons why I am gearing towards other schools that are not in Massachusetts. :P
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  • silverturtlesilverturtle 12415 replies81 threads Senior Member
    My main question is, Is Harvard really "harder" to get in compared to other top schools such as Princeton, Columbia, and Stanford.?

    Not really. There are plenty of people every year who get into Harvard but not schools generally considered by the layperson to be less competitive. Harvard has a slightly lower acceptance rate than its peers, a difference that may be attributable in part to the fact that Harvard can attract less qualified applicants simply because of the attraction of its prestige. Harvard also receives relatively many international applications because of its prominent international reputation, which makes it tougher for those applicants, not for domestic applicants.

    Admissions is subjective enough that any differences in selectivity among the most selective schools will not manifest in any particular applicant's decisions; luck is more important. Brown, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale are all approximately equally selective.
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  • CSYHP322CSYHP322 36 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Brown, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale are all approximately equally selective.

    I agree with you in that luck is more important. But I am afraid that Brown may not be as selective as the rest of the colleges you listed?

    Also, I am an international applicant, sadly/ :(
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  • silverturtlesilverturtle 12415 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Brown, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale are all approximately equally selective.

    I agree with you in that luck is more important. But I am afraid that Brown may not be as selective as the rest of the colleges you listed?

    What makes you say this? As a matter of anecdote, I know of many students accepted to one or more of HYPS but rejected from Brown, which is one flavor of support for the dynamics that I discussed as occurring among these most competitive schools. I don't know of a meaningful standard that would justify separating Brown from this group.

    Class of 2015 acceptance rates:

    6.2 ---- Harvard
    6.9 ---- Columbia
    7.1 ---- Stanford
    7.4 ---- Yale
    8.4 ---- Princeton
    8.7 ---- Brown
    9.6 ---- MIT
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  • CSYHP322CSYHP322 36 replies7 threads Junior Member
    I think I based my writing on the USNEWS acceptance rate. Thanks for the clarification!
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  • JamieBrownJamieBrown - 388 replies13 threads Member
    Class of 2015 acceptance rates:

    6.2 ---- Harvard
    6.9 ---- Columbia
    7.1 ---- Stanford
    7.4 ---- Yale
    8.4 ---- Princeton
    8.7 ---- Brown
    9.6 ---- MIT


    These are the initial acceptance rates and have to be adjusted for kids allowed in from the waiting list...
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  • silverturtlesilverturtle 12415 replies81 threads Senior Member
    ^ That's not a particularly meaningful caveat in this context unless we have reason to believe that certain schools would be incommensurately affected by this and to a magnitude that would affect the point of my citation, which seems highly unlikely and unprecedented. In any case, do you know those adjusted rates?
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  • DwightEisenhowerDwightEisenhower 1677 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Thank You! Having lived in New England, this weather is actually one of the reasons why I am gearing towards other schools that are not in Massachusetts.

    Traitor. The weather here is wicked awesome.
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  • classicgirllclassicgirll 512 replies10 threads Member
    New England weather is something I wouldn't trade for the world.
    It's snowing here. How many of you can say that?
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  • DwightEisenhowerDwightEisenhower 1677 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Not only that, but we have beautiful low-mid 90 summers. Best of both worlds.
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  • JamieBrownJamieBrown - 388 replies13 threads Member
    That's not a particularly meaningful caveat in this context unless we have reason to believe that certain schools would be incommensurately affected by this and to a magnitude that would affect the point of my citation, which seems highly unlikely and unprecedented. In any case, do you know those adjusted rates?

    Columbia has a significant amount of waiting list kids admitted and now attending. The 6.9% admit rate for Columbia was never adjusted (and never will be by the university, considering their lack of transparency), but it would probably increase by a couple of percentage points.
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  • cahsparentcahsparent 323 replies11 threads Member
    This topic of 'Hard to get in' was best answered by a Yale Admissions officer when we visited.

    "We admitted 2,000 from a pool of 30,000 applicants. If we set aside that 2,000 and went back and selected a different set of 2,000 out of the 28,000 we would have just as good a class"

    These schools are REACH schools no matter your qualifications.
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  • phantasmagoricphantasmagoric 2168 replies32 threads Senior Member
    HYPSM are all about the same difficulty - not simply because it's HYPSM, but because these have always been the ones with the most competitive applicant pool and the smallest accept pool. The selectivity of a university isn't defined by the acceptance rate, nor by the # top students that it admits, but rather by the # and quality of those "at the end," i.e. if you were to rank all the accepted students, the ones at the bottom would define how selective the university is. I don't think that Columbia and Brown are on par with HYPSM in selectivity. For one, they both having binding early programs, and it's more often the case the strongest students aren't applying to binding early programs (rather, they're applying to HYPSM+ in RD or early). For another, many of the top students end up choosing HYPSM anyway, which results in the use of the waitlist elsewhere. And while they both accept tons of top students, my guess is that the "tail" of students at the end is longer and of lower quality. Part of this, I think, has to do with the quality of the applicant pools, and I'm willing to bet that HYPSM's applicant pools are the strongest on average. For similar reasons (quality of the applicant pool, # accepted students), I don't think Oxbridge is as selective as HYPSM.

    Of course, I don't have statistics to back this up, only observations - and if that isn't enough, then we might as well include WUStL and Tufts in the "most selective," because the stats we do have indicate that they're about as selective as Stanford. ;)
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  • GordonTheGekkoGordonTheGekko 193 replies22 threads Junior Member
    HYPSM?

    What's "M"
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  • JamieBrownJamieBrown - 388 replies13 threads Member
    HYPSM?

    What's "M"

    ha!

    good one......
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  • phantasmagoricphantasmagoric 2168 replies32 threads Senior Member
    HYPSM?

    What's "M"

    Honestly, what's the point of such posts when you know the answer, GordonTheGekko? (I'm assuming some greater purpose that I've yet to discover and enjoy. Please help me find it.)
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  • tommy22tommy22 223 replies41 threads Junior Member
    M=MIT

    10char
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