Am I Good enough for Harvard?

Hi! I am a 7th grader (8th grader at the end of the year), and am looking to get into Harvard. I’m just going to put it out there that THIS IS NOT MY SOLE GOAL. I do not just want to get into Harvard, I want to be at that level, that Harvard would accept me. Here are some of the things I want to achieve in the future:

  • I have a deep passion for the science (Particularly Biology)so, I want to do the USABO and possibly the IBO (fingers crossed…)
  • I already know two languages (English and Hindi), but i want to learn 4 more (Mandarin Chinese, German, Italian, and Russian) , giving me a grand total of 6 languages
  • People say I have a really good voice ( I have done choir for a few years and now am starting Indian Classical singing) so, I am thinking about publishing an album
  • I really love badminton and I definitely want to go to at least state with that. I have done Swim Team for 4-5 years but I HATE IT, and want to drop it badly.
  • I want to build and app and a website (correlating) about something, not sure yet
  • I am pretty decent at math (Currently doing Algebra 2) so, I might do some competitions for math (AMC8, AMC10, AMC12, etc.)
  • I do Kathak- An Indian Classical Dance form- And I am going to graduate that in 10th grade. So far I have only gotten Distinctions ( the highest score) on the annual test.
  • Sadly, I am not hard-working (I am working on this though…) but I am very smart (I sound SO snobbish, I apologize), as I have always gotten 95+ on Standardized Tests, and I am in the highest level of Education (PI+ - 9th grade math and 8th grade english)
  • Another thing about me is that I simply do not do things that do not interest me. I can’t seem to do it without getting extremely bored of frustrated.
  • Also, if this helps, I am an Indian girl, 13 years old. I live in Illinois and have a financially well-to-do family, so money is not a concern. I am also an only child.

There’s a LOT more to me that I did not mention here. Many of you may say I am too young to be thinking about this, but I believe that as I am still young, I can mold myself to whatever I want to be. Personality wise, I am overall a good person (at least that is what I think…) and am DEFINETLY not as stuck up as I sound on this Post (I apologize for that again). Thank you SO much in advance for reading this through and (Hopefully!) commenting down below!
(Also,I am sorry if I was not supposed to post here this is he only Harvard-related thing I saw.) :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Tell you in four years. But NO ONE should assume admission into any IVY or top 10 school.

You’ve nkt done anything yet that counts but you’ve got a great start.

Be the best you and you’ll find the right place for you when the time comes

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Thank you so much! You are right when you say I have not done much, which I am working on. Thank you again!

You need to read this and think deeply about it. There is no “at that level” that will predictably get you into Harvard or any of the other highly selective schools. The process is subjective and you cannot know in advance the subjective things they will care about. Harvard gets over 50,000 applicants. Probably 30,000 (maybe more) are FULLY QUALIFIED to study there. Nearly every student “at that level” gets rejected.

Rather that focussing on something you have no control over…a specific school. Focus on academic excellence and doing stuff you enjoy. That way if you apply and don’t get in, which is by far and away the most likely outcome no matter your record, you won’t have toiled in vain.


Well you are definitely good enough to try!

Unless there’s some medical reason for which you have been told you MUST do swim team, don’t re-enroll for swim team after you complete this cycle of it. I’m sure you are already an excellent swimmer, and it’s WAY too time consuming to do unless you love it. Go ahead and start any other sport that you enjoy. It is unlikely that any sport that you begin at this point would be enough to enable you to become a recruited athlete, unless you have an undiscovered talent. One sport that you could start now, in which you actually COULD become a recruited athlete, if you are built like a dancer and are extremely lightweight, as many young women of South Asian heritage are, is cross-country. Women (and men) who excel at cross country are built like greyhounds. Very lightweight. Makes sense. You can build the same muscle strength as someone far heavier than you, but if you’re forty pounds lighter than them, you are going to win the race, since compared to you, they are running the race carrying the equivalent of an extra five gallon milk bottles. I told this to a 13 year old girl who was convinced that she (a public riding facility recreational rider) was going to get into a nearby fancy boarding school (to which rich girls could and did bring their own horse), on a a riding scholarship. I told her that the Arab Gulf princesses came to this school, with their own horses. There would be no riding scholarship. But she was very lightweight. I suggested cross country. She listened. A year later, she was SECOND FASTEST IN THE STATE for middle schoolers, after just one year! Sure, she trained. But her super-light build gave her an innate advantage. So yes, switch sports, to something you love, and if there is a sport that you can get good at really fast, that doesn’t require starting at age 8 to be highly competitive in, that you are physically uniquely suited for, give it a try. You should play badminton if you love it, but I think it’s a club sport, not the kind that leads to becoming a recruited athlete.

If you are interested in learning Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, look into STARTALK. Find a Summer Program | STARTALK
These are summer programs across the country, that you are not too young to start, that can start you on learning these languages this summer. Pick the one that best suits your interests and begin. If your high school doesn’t offer that language, you can continue it in the summers at a local college. If you can do a 10th grade year abroad to become fluent in that language, it would be very impressive to any highly selective college.

Others may be able to better advise you about the path to outstanding achievement in science and math.

If you have a singular intense interest, follow it. Don’t worry about developing an application - focus on developing yourself. With someone as bright as you, and as high achieving as you so early on, I have a feeling that there will be many things that call to you. You will find the right school to match the interests that you have developed.

Don’t let anyone discourage you.

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Your ambition is admirable, but as you progress through high school you’ll understand the cruel realities of the admissions process. You can think you’ve done 125% of all you could do to get into Harvard, yet get rejected without a second guess from the admissions office. No one is a sure bet for a place like Harvard unless you are a combination of a recruited varsity athlete, three generations of legacy, the valedictorian of your graduating class, and have perfect test scores. Even then, there is still a chance you get rejected.

The best advice I can give you is to do the best you can to achieve high and far inside and outside the classroom, while still being a genuine person. You frankly won’t know what colleges you are viable for until the end of your sophomore year of high school, so pump the breaks a little bit.

I can give one suggestion for what you can do to improve your chances, though. If money isn’t an issue for your family, see if they’d be willing to allow you to pursue applying to a rigorous boarding school. I am a firm believer that the high school you attend matters in the college admissions process, and there are some fantastic boarding high schools similar to the one I went to in the northeast that sends nearly a quarter of each graduating class to an Ivy League school. However, getting admissions to some of those high schools is almost as hard and cutthroat as an Ivy. But, if you are able to get into one and end up going, you at least have a good idea that you’ll be on the right path towards getting into a great college–something that should only be at the back of your mind.

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I hope that everyone here keeps in mind that this is a 13 year old seventh grader! Her need for reality checks is quite different from that of an 11th grader.

The idea of considering applying to a highly selective boarding school, to begin in 9th grade, is a very good one. The education at these schools can be better than that available in many public schools, in many different academic areas. And the reality is that the acceptance rate into elite universities from these highly selective boarding schools IS much, much higher than that of similarly qualified applicants from public schools.

Another option is attending a highly selective private day school, if there is one in your area, and leaving home four years early is not to your or your parents’ liking.


Please, please, please change your order of thinking: it is NOT a question of whether YOU are good enough for Harvard. It’s not even a matter of whether you are a good enough student for Harvard (do you see that difference? who you are as a student is only a subset of who you are as a person). It’s whether Harvard is good for you.

Right now the most important thing is the biggest, shiniest name- which to you (and maybe your parents) is Harvard. You are a high achiever and ambitious and want to shoot for the stars- wonderful! So, first, here is what an admissions person at MIT recommends for students like you:

The article is several years old, but Chris is still at MIT admissions, and stands over this blog post. Re-read it every year at the start of the year, and take it to heart.

Remember also that you have to grow into yourself. Middle school and secondary school are not just about getting into college: it’s when you develop a lot of the parts of you that will be the basis of adult you.

The more you learn about yourself the better you will be able to evaluate what the most important things are for who you are.

For example, right now you are 100% sure that you want Harvard and only Harvard- but you also say that don’t like to do things that do not interest you. Do you want to do what it takes to shine at everything? that’s what Harvard admissions is used to. Or, would you like to just study what you are really interested in? That’s what Oxford (as big a name as Harvard) is looking for. Compare what you do as a Biology major at Harvard (General Education Requirement | Harvard College Handbook for Students + Molecular and Cellular Biology | Harvard College Handbook for Students) and Oxford (Biology | University of Oxford). Note that Harvard is 4 years, while Oxford is 3 years for a BA, or 4 with a Masters.

It should be obvious that it is WAY too early for you to get fixated on any one school, and I am NOT advocating Oxford- or any other college at this point. I am just trying to demonstrate that there is more out there than you realize. Go back and re-read Applying Sideways :slight_smile:

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I think that in and of itself explains the sad state of affairs the college search process in America has become.


Again don’t take anything as negative. As I wrote, be the best you. If you love swim I’d do it. Find your passions. Don’t over activity. Do the few you love. But do them thoroughly, taking the lead where you can. Take a rigorous schedule but one that fits you. If you struggle step back. Don’t take classes just because you think you need to if they are not right for you.

Don’t worry about Harvard. It’s admirable you want it. But enjoy your four years. Challenge yourself. Find yourself. You’ll end up in the right spot for you, Harvard or otherwise.

Btw I didn’t say you haven’t done anything. I said anything that counts yet. You’ve done a lot. I made the comment because it’s what you do in high school that gets looked at.

But you are off to a great start and it’s awesome you are thinking ahead. Best of luck.

It’s great you are thinking ahead. Best of luck.

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Of course you are good enough!

Getting accepted will be difficult though.


THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! I want to really, REALLY thank everyone here. Thank you for putting out time in your day to write the response(s) that you wrote. I have read this ( How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League, by a Harvard Alum) article here ,and really got an idea of what I need to do (develop a “spike”, be focused, and work hard). I will definitely enjoy my time as an 8th grader, and then I will be hard at work to be the BEST VERSION OF MYSELF (thank you for the eye opening article collegemom3717!) in high school; rather than having the goal of getting into Harvard (which is really vague now that I think about it…). Thank you once again everyone! :blush:

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Experiences of Harvard students vary. For this reason it would be worth reading this Boston Globe interview with a prominent graduate: