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Chance Me as a Harvard Transfer

cornelltoharvardcornelltoharvard Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
I applied to Harvard this year as a transfer student. I currently go to Cornell and have a near-perfect GPA, along with decent recommendation letters, SAT scores near Harvard's average, and political/work experience, on top of being an accomplished musician. I have a great reason for transferring, and I was offered a transfer interview (which went well), and supposedly Harvard doesn't typically offer these interviews. I'm also an accomplished musician and was one of a few chosen from 100,000 to receive the Horatio Alger National Scholarship, which is partnered with Harvard. For my background, I'm a first generation high school attendee, I've been independent since 15, so I have virtually no income, I wrote my essays about being homeless in high school and working 60 hours a week to support my younger sister. Cornell doesn't allow students to major in the two fields I'm interested in concurrently, but Harvard does. In addition, certain healthcare reasons (discussed with my interviewer) make my stay at Cornell very financially strenuous, and I'd be saved from these problems upon a transfer to Harvard. Any information at all would be greatly appreciated; thank you all.

Replies to: Chance Me as a Harvard Transfer

  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,751 Senior Member
    edited April 20
    Harvard accepts less than 1% of transfer applicants, so I'm not willing to even hazard a guess as to your chances. This thread was bumped to the second page, so i'm reposting here in case you missed it: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/harvard-university/2125803-harvard-transfer-2019-advice-from-a-2017-harvard-transfer.html#latest.

    FWIW: Not knowing the specifics of your healthcare issues, this may be a red flag. Hoping it's not anything mental health related: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mental-health-breakdown-when-harvard-fails-its-students
    Paul Barreira is a psychiatrist and director of Harvard Health Services. He says it’s not Harvard’s job to provide long-term mental health care, but rather, to treat students so they can be productive and happy, and get the most out of their four years. “This is not a social service agency,” says Barreira. And though Harvard has a $30.7 billion endowment, “there is no endowment dedicated to providing mental health services.”

  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,339 Senior Member
    You have a great story. Judging from the interview, it sounds like you're certainly in the running. Since Harvard only accepts a handful of students each year, its hard to say what your chances are. If you do get in, please post a follow-up.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,519 Senior Member
    edited April 22
    Health issues are not a red flag for admission. Harvard does not discriminate.

    Music can help with transfer admission, though the one I know came from Juilliard.
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,751 Senior Member
    edited April 22
    Health issues are not a red flag for admission. Harvard does not discriminate.

    While that's the "official line" at colleges, the reality is a bit more nuanced: https://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2008/05/01/should-i-mention-depression-on-my-college-application
    Colleges cannot legally deny admission specifically on the basis of mental illness, but it's hard to account for how that characteristic figures into the calculus of who gets in and who doesn't.

    Sally Rubenstone, senior counselor with CollegeConfidential.com and coauthor of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admission, says being forthright about past behavior or mental health problems doesn't mean "The Jerry Springerization of the College Admissions Essay." "Sometimes I have to implore [students] to stay mum," she says. "There are clearly times when personal problems are too personal—or inappropriate—to include in a college essay."
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,519 Senior Member
    The OP mentions "health care reasons." In my experience and that of others I know (anecdotally), having medical problems while accomplishing at the level the OP has accomplished, is a big plus for admission. Ability to overcome challenges, resilience, grit and so on. On top of homelessness, caring for sister etc.

    I didn't jump to the conclusion that the OP has mental health issues, but I would say those are not always a negative unless the essay and interview make it clear that those issues continue in a way that would deter success.

    Again, the OP has only mentioned health issues, not mental health issues, so I don't think this tangent is even necessary. As another poster wrote, the OP has a great story.
  • cornelltoharvardcornelltoharvard Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    @compmom I apologize for not being more specific. My health-related reasons are strictly related to healthcare (my current university is requiring me to pay nearly $3K per semester for their specialized healthcare plan). This is more of a financial reason than health reason. And thank you all for your kind words; I'll be sure to update this post next month when I am notified of Harvard's decision.
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,751 Senior Member
    edited April 24
    @cornelltoharvard: Glad to know it's just health-related issues. FWIW: Harvard's Student Health Fee does not provide coverage for specialists or specialty care, Students must purchase that plan separately and the total cost adds up to be $4,542 per year -- less than Cornell but still a significant sum. See:
    COSTS: https://hushp.harvard.edu/rates-plan-dates
    COVERAGE: https://hushp.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/HUSHP_Benefits_Summary_AY18-19v3.pdf
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,519 Senior Member
    edited April 24
    I have a kid with extensive medical issues and she saw specialists at Harvard. I don't recall purchasing any separate plan so she could see a couple of specialists at local hospitals, and she was also hospitalized a couple of times, had PT at Harvard and so on. Everything was covered by her student health plan. Feel free to PM me (or actually I can PM you since you don't have a lot of posts). Also, health services had great MD's.

    Gibby not sure what you mean by "Glad to know it's just health related issues." No kid with serious health issues is GLAD and would not use the word "just."
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,751 Senior Member
    edited April 24
    @compmom: My use of the words 'glad' and 'just' was in response to the OP's health care issues not being mental health related, which Harvard seems to have little patience for -- ie. Paul Barreira's sound bite: "though Harvard has a $30.7 billion endowment, there is no endowment dedicated to providing mental health services.”
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,519 Senior Member
    I understood completely what you meant. I edited out a further comment that suggesting that medical health issues are somehow more palatable than mental health issues is offensive to both groups. And many mental health issues are brain-based, increasingly viewed as medical. But I did not want to create a tangent.

    And ask any kid with serious health issues, at Harvard or elsewhere, about that "just." It is very difficult getting up every day to face challenges that peers aren't even aware of.

    Harvard has many students with depression and anxiety. There certainly are mental health services for short-term, various support groups, and referrals out to providers. I don't want people to get the wrong idea from your posts.

    As for medical issues, the level of understanding and support at Harvard, in the college administration, the houses and within departments is surprisingly high and I want the OP to feel encouraged.
  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,339 Senior Member
    It really is a shame to read Paul Barreira's words. There is no health without mental health.
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