right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Harvard Transfer 2019 advice from a 2017 Harvard Transfer

transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
edited February 9 in Harvard University
Hi I transferred to Harvard fall 2017, and I'd love to help you anyone applying/clarify any questions you might have about transferring (and/or advice about transferring colleges in general).

This is coming out a bit late, but I thought that it'll still help someone. I wrote it out to be more general advice, hopefully it'll help people next year, too.

I actually wrote some super super long thing out but it goes way over the character limit for this box so these bullet points are a good summary. Also, I realized that while there are similarities in the other transfers' applications that I've read, even with only 12/13 people getting in, there is more variation than you would think. So it is really hard for me to give advice, because I don't want to put anyone in a box. None of this is a rule. None of this comes with any insider knowledge from Admissions. It's not all wrong, but it could be less generalizable than I make it seem, or that I think it is.

There's so much more that I can say here besides what I've written (particularly about Harvard vocab/what it is like to transfer), more than happy to help please ask away. Will probably only monitor this thread for the next ~week.

Some immediate thoughts:

(1) I have not heard of a single recruited athlete to come through the transfer program in the last 4 years. None. None. Zero! It isn't common at all, and we all think that it is a hilarious misconception that it is the norm. (Watch next year be the year that the entire women's rugby team comes from the transfer program haha.)

(2) There is talk that Harvard is actively trying to get more veterans to come (2 transferred this year, out of a transfer class of 13), so maybe that's something you want to nudge someone you know on. There's a guy in his 30s who transferred this year, if that helps convince you to apply. [no I do not think this will change your chances of getting in, assuming you are a nonvet]

(3) Getting in will take some luck (that's what it felt like, at least), but I wouldn't focus on that: try hard and put your personality and enthusiasm into the application and school. Do your best, then don't worry about it. Transferring in general is a hard process.

(4) At least half of the people that I know that transferred in did not think that they seriously had a chance to get in because of the low acceptance rate.

(5) The number one characteristic among people that transferred was that they were genuinely nice. It was almost shocking how /normal/ everyone was. Yes, a few were absolutely brilliant and probably got into every school they applied to, but that's like two people. Certainly not me (technically me because I only applied to Harvard lol, but I don't recommend that, I don't think it helped me or anything either).

(6) You should really find out what it is you want before applying, and by that I mean figuring out if you even want to apply to Harvard. I was more in the "why not apply?" camp, and while I don't regret applying to and transferring to Harvard, I wish I had done more research on other schools. UPenn looks like a great school to me, too, (the person who transferred in from UPenn thought this was funny when I told this to her, haha).

On the idea of "knowing what you want to do": I sketched out 3 or 4 different paths that I was interested in taking at Harvard, then submitted about the one that I thought I could write about best. Would recommend that method if you are uncertain.

(7) When asking for letters of rec, I asked my professors in person and gave a brief summary of why I wanted to go to Harvard, and then sent a few paragraphs to my professors later about my goals/high school activities/life when following up over email. I think that helped, because my professors didn't really know me, even though they did think highly of me.

(8) Going around the group that first night, everyone had a clear cut reason to transfer that they could say, basically immediately. (You get asked that so much once you get on campus, too.) I think somewhere in my essay I wrote something explicit like "I want to transfer because . . . . " You don't have to do that, but I mention that I did that because a good, clear reason should be in there.

Every person's application that I read (like 3) went back to this reason in some shape or form in basically every single one of their essays. Including the one about the favorite book. (So like one person's book touched on a subject that they were interested in and talked about how much they wanted to continue studying it, or mine talked about a famous American novel and how it changed my ideas about American inequality and I think I namedropped a lab I wanted to work in. . . you don't have to do that). I honestly don't think I mentioned a reason in the "what would you do if you didn't get in," but my direction was clear that I was still going to pursue similar goals.

(9) The motivated reason for transferring to Harvard were the hardest part for me, so I'll put a bit more down here.

My reason for transferring was that I would've lost my scholarship if I changed my major to what I wanted to study, Computer Science. I then went on to talk about how the computer science and economics opportunities that I wanted were at Harvard.

What I didn't write down was "If I changed majors, I would have lost my scholarship, and also my academic advisor told me that I would never get straight A's (which is such bull), and the kids around me don't care, and also I'm too close to home, and also they messed up my housing, and also they "lied" to me about what scholarship money I would be receiving . . . twice . . . and not in a good way." Even though it's all true, it's not good to write it down like that. (I may have written more about that scholarship thing, but it all faded away in the application and I am 100% certain that they came away from my application knowing that I wanted to study this new major X and that I would've lost my scholarship if I had changed to it, because that's the big idea/selling point.)


It's a hard balance to get right between giving reasons for why you want to leave as well as talking about your future plans. How negative do you be? Have you made your point? Have you made your school look so bad that you now look bad? It's all about how you describe it. I would definitely lean away from too much negative description.

I would suggest staying positive, focusing on the future plans, while making it absolutely clear and well-defined that there is some good motivation for leaving. Looking back, I think a good way to think about it might be "what you are running towards at Harvard, and the reason why you started running," but maybe that is a little confusing.

You should probably write something down before worrying too much.


(10) I honestly think those three guidelines on Harvard's website really are what they're looking for, and that if you doubt any of the things I've written here, then you should at the very least trust their website: https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/application-process/transferring-harvard-college



This is funny writing this up, because I am sure there were 15 other people who had just as good if not better applications than mine and just didn't get in. It's hard, guys.

Is it less than 3 days before the deadline, and you only just now realized that you want to go? I'd say write something up - 4 or 5 people from my year who got in filled out the application like that. Maybe your application will come across as more genuine. But if it isn't 3 days before the deadline, DON'T WAIT DEAR GOD WHY WOULD THAT THOUGHT EVEN CROSS YOUR MIND

open to any feedback about this post, too!
edited February 9
22 replies
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Harvard Transfer 2019 advice from a 2017 Harvard Transfer

  • zwetschzwetsch 22 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you for taking the time to share your advice! I really appreciate it.
    · Reply · Share
  • aTeddyaTeddy 6 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited February 14
    A really interesting thread. In particular, I find that comment about athletes not coming through the transfer program so interesting as virtually every thread on this website that pertains to Harvard transfer has essentially that misinformation masquerading as conventional wisdom/fact.

    I know you've already given a very detailed explanation of your experiences, but I would be interested to know two things. Do international students routinely come in through the transfer program? And also, are the majority of transfers people who have never applied for Harvard/a university in the U.S. (in the case of internationals) before?

    Thanks again for taking the time.
    edited February 14
    · Reply · Share
  • GaniatGGaniatG 3 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited February 18
    Wow! Interesting read. I would also like to ask the likelihood of international students coming in. I’m a Nigerian and I’ve been at community college for 2 years now. I’m the President of the PHI THETA KAPPA chapter here and I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA my entire time here. I’m also active in the student senate and culture club playing leadership roles in both. I am also a tour guide on campus. However I believe my SAT scores would rule me out. I got a 1200 as I only found out I had to take the test two weeks before the date. I went to a British HS in Nigeria so I always thought I would go to school in England until my mum surprised me in the middle of my GCSEs. I managed to write the SATs but I know I could’ve don’t better. I got straight A*s on GCSEs and I have a good history of good grades all through Secondary school. Class valedictorian all that good stuff I’m EXTREMELY nervous. From a stranger , how does my application look ?
    edited February 18
    · Reply · Share
  • GaniatGGaniatG 3 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited February 18
    I major in Biology and have taken very difficult classes
    edited February 18
    · Reply · Share
  • GaniatGGaniatG 3 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you !!
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    oh hey sorry that this is after the deadline now:

    @aTeddy Thanks! Yeah it's pretty hilarious. There are international students that come through the transfer program, but there are usually very few of them each year. I don't know the answer about the other question, but I definitely know transfers who were rejected after high school, as well as people who didn't even apply. It probably doesn't make that much of a difference, if I had to guess.

    @GaniatG Sorry I can't be more helpful, but I just don't know what to say. Sounds like you are certainly qualified to do good things in life no matter where you go :)
    · Reply · Share
  • aTeddyaTeddy 6 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks @transfer111111, as a first-time US college applicant from Australia, your post is quite relieving to read. We can all only wait now I guess and hope that the 1% chance goes our way!
    · Reply · Share
  • CharacterTeaCharacterTea 2 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Incredibly insightful write-up – thanks so much. Quick question: do you think admissions tends to favor sophomore transfers (applying freshmen year) vs. junior transfers (applying sophomore year)?

    In other words, were there significantly more sophomore transfers compared to junior transfers or vice versa in recent transfer classes? Thanks!
    · Reply · Share
  • AgentBKAgentBK 30 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @transfer111111 if you don’t mind, could you tell us which college you transferred from?
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @CharacterTea I don't know where the preference is, especially because the actual evaluation of how many credits will transfer happens after you get in. I think this year it was pretty balanced. Last year it was more sophomore transfers. Sorry that this doesn't help. I know where you are coming from when you ask this - and it sucks - but I would say that even if I had an answer, it wouldn't help you. Just gotta wait til May :)

    @AgentBK I will not, but I will say that people get accepted from all over. State schools (I came from a state school), community colleges, other ivys, international schools. There's probably some bias somewhere (and of course number of internationals is low), but idk what it is.
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Someone messaged me and asked about getting asked to do an interview.

    I know people who had an interview and got in. I think just 1. At least 1, I guess, I can't remember if there were more. They hadn't applied during high school and thought that that was it. I don't know anyone who applied and didn't get in, though, so I can't compare good or bad. Good luck!
    · Reply · Share
  • AgentBKAgentBK 30 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @transfer111111

    Sorry to bother you but I have to questions:

    1.) When you apply for transfer admission, do colleges consider your AP Exam scores and SAT Subject Test (SAT II) scores?

    2.) Do colleges ask/are you required to list your extracurricular activities in high school?

    Any response would be greatly appreciated.
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @AgentBK 1) Idk, if you send them they probably would. I sent my AP scores, idk about my Subject tests.

    2) I put down some big ones from my hs. I you are at all confused about the directions you should call them and ask.
    · Reply · Share
  • waitlistedatharvardx2waitlistedatharvardx2 5 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    @transfer111111 I just got waitlisted on the transfer application (for the second time), do you know if anyone from your transfer class came from the waitlist, or do you have any advice for what to do now?
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    My year there were people accepted off the waitlist (4, I believe). But, I believe that was an aberrant year.

    You could do the following: (1) Submit a letter saying you want to still come. (2) Submit your updated transcript (I don't remember if you already did that, sorry). (3) Still consider visiting the school if you were planning on it or being in the area (couldn't hurt). That's basically what I did. I know someone who called because they actually had a question about the school (she'd gotten into a couple other schools and still wanted to look into Harvard), not just because they wanted to get in.

    here's approx the letter I sent: say thanks and that you would come if they let you in, reinforce why you want to go to Harvard, say what you want to do, tell of anything new that happened, say thanks and that they should contact you if they want to. I have no idea if it was a good one, but I think that I said all that I wanted to.

    So yeah basically:

    phone number
    email

    Dear [person who's name was on the letter they sent you],

    Thanks for putting me on the waitlist! you let me in, I come. Like I said, I want to transfer to Harvard because x y z.

    At Harvard I want to do a b c d e f g hang out a lot

    i just got this award that reveals some positive aspect of my character

    let's talk some time, if you want to. you've got my #. and thanks again, being on the waitlist is the best

    Hang 10 and i love you 3000,
    Forrest "The Qdoba ads on this website look way better than their food actually tastes" Gump

    I put it in super informal language so that you just focus on the ideas. Dear god please don't send any of that. Best of luck. It pretty much sucks having to deal with this, but honestly I cried when I found out I was on the waitlist. . . . at least you still have a chance, even if it is low.

    Feel free to ask questions but it is crunch time for me right now. If it helps, I didn't submit my letter until like 2 and half weeks after when I should have, but you should probably get it out sooner.

    Best of luck
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    sorry didn't tag you @waitlistedatharvardx2
    · Reply · Share
  • transfer111111transfer111111 7 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    also, I'll note that I don't know why "that's basically what I did' is a hyperlink. didn't add that
    · Reply · Share
  • Rod0000Rod0000 10 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Anyone here did the waitlist interview with adm officer?
    · Reply · Share
  • Dave889988Dave889988 1 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Hi!
    Great post! I am a 2nd-year student that is interested in transferring to Harvard. I have a couple questions regarding the process; is there any way you can provide me your email address so I can contact you? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank You,
    Dave
    · Reply · Share
  • nomdeplume520nomdeplume520 1 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Hey! I know I’m late but I have a few questions about the transfer process. Could I contact you through email?
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity