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Canadian students applying to Harvard?

the_pakalypsethe_pakalypse Registered User Posts: 334 Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Harvard University
Hey I was just wondering what a good average would be for a student applying to Harvard. I'm just really confused since I hear a lot about GPAs but we don't have that system here, we only have percents... Also, do Harvard/other ivy league schools look at your ENTIRE transcript, or do they just look primarily at your grade 12 marks?

If anyone has any other tips for a Canadian interested in Harvard, please let me know.

Post edited by the_pakalypse on

Replies to: Canadian students applying to Harvard?

  • BigCatBigCat Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    since we don't generally calculate GPA's (i'm canadian too), the admissions committee is going to be looking at your entire transcript -not just your grade 12 marks.

    american schools generally add 10-15% to canadian grades to account for the difference in the two grading systems (that doesn't mean that if you get 85's you're going to be looked at in the same light as an american kid with a 100% average, however). i think a >90% high school average would be ideal but you could probably swing high 80's if the rest of your app is particulary impressive.
  • ky12345ky12345 Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    In the U.S., we go by a grading scale 0-4.0. 4.0 is an all a average. Harvard starts looking, the moment you start taking high school courses, whether it be in the 7th grade or the 9th.
  • AmbitiousteenAmbitiousteen Registered User Posts: 893 Member
    OOOff 10-15%??? daaaammnn
    Id be getting above 110-115 in math then lol

    Woot ottawa,ontario REPRESENTing... Canadians!... first one in my school to apply to harvard
  • AmbitiousteenAmbitiousteen Registered User Posts: 893 Member
    pakalypse they look at all your grades... first semester gr 12 marks after exams...
  • 100Canadian100Canadian Registered User Posts: 183 Junior Member
    BigCat, I've heard the same thing - they add 5-10% to your grades.

    Ambitiousteen, I'm from Ottawa as well! Do you mind me asking what school you go to? I'm the first from my school to apply south of the border.. a few people have gotten athletic scholarships in the past, but no one has actually applied normally. Quite the exciting, and nerve-wrecking/frustrating, procedure :)
  • CanadianftwCanadianftw Registered User Posts: 118 Junior Member
    haha as if! im from ottawa too!
    repping CB here =) how about you guys

    is there a source on the +5-10% thing? sounds kinda ridiculous cuz then i imagine a lot of applicants are going to have over 100% averages

    regarding applicants in the past from my school,
    last year, ~97 average applicant got wailisted
    2 years ago, ~93 average for rejected
    3 years ago, 98+ average got accepted
  • DCoy54DCoy54 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Wow the +5%-15% just made my day

    I'm in CEGEP (Quebec post-secondary school) and I have like an 85 average... I was actually wondering how so many members had perfect GPAs, because up here anything over a 95 is pretty much unheard of
  • the_pakalypsethe_pakalypse Registered User Posts: 334 Junior Member
    ^^ yeah same
    also i think its important to focus not just on the averages, extracurriculars matter as well.. although i know there arent as many extracurriculars available to canadians, they should also be fairly strong..
  • illuminarilluminar Registered User Posts: 648 Member
    Lots of kids from Ottawa...Halifax here.

    I submitted my app on Saturday.
  • Mustafah78Mustafah78 Registered User Posts: 479 Member
    I'll be submitting my application to Harvard very soon. I go to school in Ontario and have a 98% average (in my Grade 12 courses, that is). Taking into account every high school course I've taken, my GPA is 4.0. But the grades matter little. I think Canadian students tend to focus (a little too much) on the numbers because most Canadian universities base their admissions decisions the applicant's grades alone. But what matters most when applying to Harvard are your recommendation letters, extracurricular commitments, personal demographics, and essays. That said, *nobody* should get their hopes up just because Harvard adds 5-10% to Canadian grades; the focus shouldn't even be on one's grades.
  • zephyravatarzephyravatar Registered User Posts: 527 Member
    whoa seriously? 5-10% boost is huge. borderline ridiculous if it's true.

    I'm from toronto. IB program. I'm liking this grade boosting thing :D
  • CanadianftwCanadianftw Registered User Posts: 118 Junior Member
    well said winnygee; American schools care much more about the student over all than just numbers. I mean yeah, I've got a 98% now too and I imagine a ton of Ontario students alone will have averages in the high 90's so it's really gonna come down to EC's.

    Top 3 Ottawa board graduates last year were 99.5, 99.2, 99.0. Last year, of the 30ish Canadian students who went to Harvard, almost 20 were from the GTA. The top graduate in the toronto board is usually around 99.5, but there a much denser cumulative frequency so there's probably nearly a hundred of kids who get 95+. So yeah, can't really make final decisions on the transcript alone. (It's kinda stupid how Canadian schools rely completely on grades yet they don't bother implementing standardized testing)

    but on the topic of this boost...
    I talked to my guidance counselor today about this boost (he's in frequent contact with all the ivy league admissions officers) and here's what he had to say

    -there is indeed a boost
    -10-15% is an over-exaggeration
    -admissions is done on a regional basis so the boost isn't to make you comparable to American students as the comparison would never be made in the first place
    -the boost is to moderate the variance in grading systems across Canada (a 96% in alberta and 96% in Ontario are completely different things; heck, a 96 at my school and a 96 at the school down the road mena completely different things)
    -there is probably a 2-3% boost for AP/IB courses to make up for Canada's lack of a weighting system
    -additional minor boost for well established schools such as UofTschools or Upper Canada College so that the potentially lower marks due to a much more rigorous curriculum won't make you seem worse

    besides, look at this boost from this perspective...remember everything is regional
    student A: 98% average -> 108% after 10% boost
    student B: 89% average -> 99% after 10% boost

    student A still looks way better
  • AmbitiousteenAmbitiousteen Registered User Posts: 893 Member
    if u know the right people anything is possible... i got to merivale high school in ottawa... if i get michael ignatieff to give me a hand ooo man ill be happiest kid alive
  • 100Canadian100Canadian Registered User Posts: 183 Junior Member
    Canadianftw, check out my thread in International Forum for more info about the exaggeration thing...

    Anyways, you guys with 98 averages.. that's ridiculous :P (and congrats). But I think school ranking counts for a lot, because as Canadianftw said, a 96% at 2 different schools can mean completely different things. Btw my average is low 90's and I'm in the top 3% or better of our 220 or so people class (I'm at a Catholic school in the west end; I don't want to say exactly what school). But I'm hoping our grades look better compared to those people in the States, because over 90 average is pretty much a guaranteed 4.0 GPA?

    "regarding applicants in the past from my school,
    last year, ~97 average applicant got wailisted
    2 years ago, ~93 average for rejected
    3 years ago, 98+ average got accepted "

    Do you mind saying what their class rank was like? Getting waitlisted with a 97 average sucks (esp. considering that person was at Colonel By, and I'm guessing doing IB?)... unless it's for Harvard haha. But yea if this American thing doesn't work out I want to go to Queens or Dalhousie, more Queens because of their med school.

    Where are you Ottawa people applying to? I'm applying to Wash U, Brown, and JHU.

    And ambitiousteen, were you writing your SAT subject tests at Queens on the 6th???
  • .serendipity.serendipity Registered User Posts: 209 Junior Member
    Canadianftw, what do you make of the discrepancy between grades from Alberta and Ontario? I applied from Alberta with a 99.7% average, in full IB. Does that mean anything?
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