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Why/how are people with gpa's below 3.0 getting into Harvard?

Zairia13Zairia13 16 replies21 threads Junior Member
Why are people with low GPA's getting into Harvard. On about.com's college application section there is a post about Harvard admission statistics and within it is a graph. The graph mostly showed what I expected - a lot of red dots, but there were a few green (accepted) outliers with extremely low SAT, ACT, and GPA. Who are these people? What are they doing to get in? How do they get in?
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Replies to: Why/how are people with gpa's below 3.0 getting into Harvard?

  • shawnspencershawnspencer 3121 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Because they have some other characteristics that makes them attractive to Harvard. This can be an musical ability, athletic ability, research they have done, adversity they have overcome, busineses/organizations they have created, etc. There are many reasons a kid could have made it into Harvard. Not everyone who goes there has a 4.0
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  • Zairia13Zairia13 16 replies21 threads Junior Member
    That's a good point @shawnspencer‌! I know that not everyone has a 4.0 at Harvard, but a 2.5 GPA seems really low even if you are exceptionally talented in the arts or sports! But then again, Harvard wants students who will be successful in life
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  • Sue22Sue22 6928 replies121 threads Super Moderator
    Who are these people? People who lie on the Internet.
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  • BemusedfyzBemusedfyz 142 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @Sue22‌ There are actually (very very few) data points on Harvard's admissions statistics graph, showing that people with 2.5-3.5 GPAs are sometimes accepted. The catch though, is that there are only 1-2 per year. To answer the OP's question-- remember, Harvard wants excellence. People with 2.5-3.5 GPAs are going to have to be absolutely phenomenal in some area, or have incredible extenuating circumstances-- such as living in Rwanda without parents for 10 years.
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  • VSGPeanut101VSGPeanut101 865 replies21 threads Member
    The Harvard Crimson actually publishes extremely detailed information about this. They do a very comprehensive survey of all freshmen each year, and in the past 2 years the lowest GPA of any admitted freshman has been 3.3.
    You can see this, and the rest of the data at this link http://features.thecrimson.com/2014/freshman-survey/admissions/
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  • Falcon1Falcon1 1919 replies31 threads Senior Member
    An extremely large donation can also be a factor. Celebrity and/or VIP status may also offset lower grades or scores. In short, it's tough to say why the kids were admitted other than they had something truly exceptional going for them.
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  • BemusedfyzBemusedfyz 142 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @VSGPeanut101‌

    Very minor, but there was one admit with a 3.0 for the class of 2017. He/she also had a 2230 SAT.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6928 replies121 threads Super Moderator
    @bemusedfyz, as far as I can tell the graph on the site the OP cited are self-reported. HArvard's own information is much more reliable. Last year's CDC showed not a single admittee with a GPA below 3.0
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  • plumplumplumplum 42 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Often legacies with below a 3.5 gpa but otherwise qualified (SAT, extracurriculars) are offered to be z-listed to attend the following year. I believe that way Harvard does not have to report GPA in CDC.
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  • BemusedfyzBemusedfyz 142 replies11 threads Junior Member
    @Sue22‌ Thanks for pointing that out, I was unaware!
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  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 14268 replies297 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2014
    Does Harvard typically publish its admission data like this? Or is this a response to the lawsuit?

    Interesting that it claims the SAT "scores varied little between ethnicities" and shows a totally zoomed out bar chart scaled from 0 to 2400. If I looked at an image of earth from space, I don't see much difference between the Himalayas and sea level, either.
    http://features.thecrimson.com/2014/freshman-survey/admissions/

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate that a 200 point spread in average SAT scores between groups is very significant. A 200 point spread between 2 students is insignificant. A 200 point spread in averages comprising hundreds or thousands of students indicates a persistent bias. It may be evidence that harvard is making students compete against candidates in their own racial group rather than compete against the entire applicant pool.
    edited November 2014
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  • gibbygibby 10541 replies249 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2014
    It may be evidence that harvard is making students compete against candidates in their own racial group rather than compete against the entire applicant pool.

    Many of us here on CC, myself included, have thought that's what Admissions has been doing for years -- and not just at Harvard. In fact, I've often used the below to describe college admissions. Maybe this model will soon become outdated.

    Think of a high school musical director who is choosing a cast for a show. Let's use "Urinetown" as the example. The director needs to cast so many males, so many females, so many sopranos, altos, tenors etc. They need to cast for particular roles. While the musical director could cast a girl in the role of "Officer Barrel," at most high schools, that role is going to go to an overweight male who can sing the notes. You could be the best actress in your high school, but chances are you will NEVER be cast as "Officer Barrel." As an actress, your chances are infinitely better at getting cast as Little Sally or Hope Cladwell.

    Admission to a top college works pretty much the same way. In a very real sense, you aren't competing against everyone in the applicant pool for admission; you're competing against those who can play the same "role" or "roles." So, at most top colleges, about 15% of the places will be reserved for athletes. If you're NOT an athlete, those spots are not for you. About 10% will go to internationals; if you are a US citizen, those spots aren't for you either. Some places will go to underrepresented minorities (URM's). Again, if you're NOT a URM, that's not a role you can play.

    If you're applying solely on academics, then you are competing for that "role" (not that of an athlete, URM, legacy etc).
    edited November 2014
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