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Questions about Harvard

rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 19 replies9 threads Junior Member
edited May 21 in Harvard University
Hi! 2025 prospective here. I was seriously considering Harvard till now, but am not so sure now due to these reasons:

a) I'll be an Indian applicant. The current Harvard College Indian representation is ~21 which translates to ~5 admits a year. The problem? I haven't done anything earth-shatteringly original. I know Harvard is like "You don't need to have cured cancer" but I feel like the full thing for internationals is "You don't need to have cured cancer but you need to have at least 3 Nobel Prizes". How do you guys think it'll work for me? Do I stand a chance?
b) If I SCEA to Harvard, I'll not be able to ED NU. Since Harvard says that there's no difference between the Early and Regular rounds, I feel like I'll be wasting my early option.
c) I've heard that the UG experience at Harvard is not very good

Here's my profile:
Indian (Intl.) Male

SAT: 1470/1600 (retaking soon. Getting in the upper 1550s on practice tests now)

SATII
Math II: 800
Chem: 790

AP
CSA: 5

(I come from a very poor background and could only afford this much. As you can guess, my school does not have any resources beyond the bare minimum they need for a school to be a school)

ECs:

Project Collaborator/A tech nonprofit
Review and write code and documentation. Moderate the forums and mentor new contributors. GitHub & Forum Moderator and Reviewer, Top Contributor 2019.

College Prefect/College Cabinet
Saw events through, co-ordinated the control rooms during inter-school events, and helped in school administration. Proposed reform to debate structure.

School Dramatics Club
Performed the lead in the Biennial College Concert play

Badminton
Recreational, club-level badminton.

Model UN Club
Model UN and in 2019, hosted the opening ceremony, served as media head and worked on the website and application system, Co-Chaired a committee.

College Blog
Connecting with college staff, and students, former and present, and conducting interviews about their experiences regarding the school.

Founder at [x]
Founded [x] connecting students with volunteer student tutors helping them study while schools were closed. (I've been nominated to an award that the Indian Government confers for my work with this)

(Yes, I know, my ECs are maybe not Harvard level strong)

Recs:

Computer Science Teacher: I'm expecting a 7-8/10. This teacher really loves me and has known me personally. He wrote my rec for Stanford Summer School, and even though I'm on the waitlist now, I'm confident that he'll help me out

Chemistry Teacher: Again a 6-7/10. He has known me for three or so years and we've worked closely during interschool events.

Math Teacher: 8/10. I don't know what this guy sees in me, but he really loves me. He's worked closely with me too and kinda acts as a career mentor. (I'll be submitting him as counselor rec as I don't have a counselor)

The kicker: Yes, I'm asking for FA :facepalm:
edited May 21
11 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: Questions about Harvard

  • WaitlistBoyWaitlistBoy 70 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I'm not a Harvard level applicant, but at my school we rarely have every had students get in in SCEA. It seems like most of them get in through RD (2-3 each year), as the EA pool truly seems to be self-selective. The one that got in last year through SCEA was as close to a shoo-in as you could get (lots of national/a few international awards, one of the highest GPAs the schools every had, perfect test scores, etc), so it's an unbelievably competitive group. Plus, the acceptance rate is for sure higher than it seems because that's how all the athletes get in.

    It really seems like Harvard's SCEA is almost a waste of a potential ED that you could use at somewhere like Northwestern, UChicago, Duke, etc. If I were you, I'd ED somewhere and do EA to MIT or CalTech. UChicago also has an EA but i don't think it helps much. I think you could do all 4 of them if you want (ED somewhere, plus EA to MIT, CalTech, and UChicago) but that might be a bit ambitious.
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 19 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @WaitlistBoy love your username first off! Next, see the problem EDing to NU is that if I get in, I'd never be able to know what if I just stuck with Harvard. As you put it, SCEA is self-selective
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  • apparently22apparently22 85 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Financial aid is no different for international students compared to US students so requesting or needing financial aid is not a factor or detriment. I got stuck on your concern letter C - "c) I've heard that the UG experience at Harvard is not very good".

    I assume UG experience means undergrad? If so, then the question is why would you even apply to a school that as far as you're hearing has a "not very good" undergrad experience? What does not very good mean?
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 19 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Yup. UG=Undergrad. By not very good, I mean that I've heard that professors don't really engage with students, but I've also heard that that is not the case. I wonder if some current Undergrad can help me out with that?
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  • TelluricTelluric 75 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 22
    I'm a recent grad, happy to help try and answer a few questions, although its been some time since I was last on this page!

    a) Unfortunately, the number of admits from India is particularly small - generally only mid single digits per year. Of the international students I know (and I was one myself) although some did hold major international prizes and the like, it was certainly not required. However, considering how few international students are accepted it certainly helps. Far more important however is the story you can weave about yourself, your life and your interests, and how compelling and moving that story is.

    b) I can't say what the best decision for you is, but I'm happy to give you some of my reasoning when I applied years ago:

    1. I was pretty sure that I was at least competitive in terms of academics, ECAs, recommendations, etc.
    2. I was also very sure that Harvard was my No. 1 choice (although just from a statistical standpoint, especially as an international, I didn't hang all my hopes on it - I would have been ecstatic with any of my top choices).
    3. Harvard has officially stated that there is no meaningful difference between applying SCEA or RD. People on this forum have debated it both ways, however with about half the class being accepted SCEA in a far smaller (albeit stronger) applicant pool, I like to believe there may be some slight statistical edge to applying SCEA.
    4. With that in mind, I knew that I would always wonder "what if" if I didn't apply to Harvard SCEA and instead applied to one of my safer schools.

    With those basic assumptions, the decision ended up being straightforward for me. As I was probably competitive, I was fairly confident that I would end up at a school I was pretty happy with at the end of the year whatever happened, so I decided to gamble my early action choice on my dream school. It turned out well for me, but I also knew that if it didn't, I would have had no regrets.

    I'm not saying that this should be your logical conclusion - but I think its worthwhile laying out your own thoughts about the process and arriving at what makes sense to you. Think about how you feel about the process of SCEA at Harvard or ED'ing NU - they're both great schools! What's important is what you feel about them and what would make you happiest at the end of the day.

    c) I can't speak to other people's experiences but I had a wonderful time. I think consistently what you find students say is that the most meaningful and best part of the whole experience was the people - the other students are amazing. They're who you spend all night working on problem sets with, working towards some conference for an extra-curricular or just talking to about topics from topology to Kant to just about anything, and they're who you learn the most from.
    edited May 22
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  • compmomcompmom 11547 replies81 threads Senior Member
    Where did you hear the undergrad experience was lacking? Harvard has lecture classes with grad student teaching fellows. It is often teaching fellows who interact with students, except in smaller classes and departments. As you move through the 4 years, this can change some, and you would have a thesis advisor, but overall, Harvard is a large school with TF's (assume NU is too).

    If you want interaction with faculty, you might prefer a liberal arts college, such as the "little Ivies" like Tufts, Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan and others. Also check Colleges that Change Lives website.

    The best reason to apply to Harvard is their financial aid :) But some of those smaller schools have financial aid similar to Harvard's (Amherst and Williams for instance).

    I don't see why you can't apply early to Harvard and regular to NU, or apply to both in the regular application cycle. My main question to you is why, if you value close interaction with faculty, you wouldn't be applying to smaller LAC's with undergrad focus and more contact with professors.
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  • shinigami123shinigami123 1 replies0 threads New Member
    I am also a 2025 prospective!!
    And as for your question you should apply SCEA Harvard if your complete ready only, otherwise do RA. Cause applying ED won't give you much edge for Harvard, so you could apply to NU for EA if you want to.

    (Btw, if you like to contact me, as we would applying at same time then reply)!!!
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 19 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Telluric wrote: »
    c) I can't speak to other people's experiences but I had a wonderful time. I think consistently what you find students say is that the most meaningful and best part of the whole experience was the people - the other students are amazing. They're who you spend all night working on problem sets with, working towards some conference for an extra-curricular or just talking to about topics from topology to Kant to just about anything, and they're who you learn the most from.

    @Telluric this was very helpful! I'll plot pros/cons and come up with something. Thanks! Also, thank you for clarifying the doubts I had
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  • rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant 19 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @compmom I see. I had read somewhere (I think it was Reddit) and heard from family some time ago.

    Yup, FA is the main reason I was going for Harvard. HYPMA offer need-blind for intls. so I want to go with one of them for my early choice.

    Yeah, you're right. I guess applying to something like Pomona or Wesleyan would be a better and smarter choice in that case. I'll take that in mind and make a decision. TYSM!
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  • compmomcompmom 11547 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited May 23
    It isn't just that these schools are need-blind. Their financial aid policies do not include loans and are generous. Students whose families make under $65k go almost for free, and those making under $150k pay 10%. This aid is the same for internationals and there may also be travel allowances.
    https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/international-applicants

    The residential house system breaks Harvard up into smaller communities, which is a great feature of the experience. Each house has its own dining hall, where people may congregate, its own events and staff.

    Your socioeconomic background may even be a plus, if it means you overcame certain obstacles to achievement.

    But international admissions are low and it would be wise to have other "dream schools." Amherst and Williams are also know for good FA.
    edited May 23
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  • goodplace12goodplace12 1 replies0 threads New Member
    @Telluric could you please share your stats?
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