Chance Me - Harvard

  • Asian Male in Suburbs

  • US domestic

  • Public high school with around 700 people (not very well known, but there are a couple of Harvards each year)

  • No legacy and not athlete

  • Intended Major: Physics

  • GPA near the top of school (top 5 people)

  • SAT: 1580

  • Class Rank: school does not do rank


  • 14 APs (13 5’s, 1 4)

  • I’ve taken all STEM classes at my school

  • Honors: US Physics Team, USAMO Qualifier, HMMT Top 20

  • Extracurriculars:

  • Math Team Captain
  • Science Olympiad Captain
  • Physics Club Founder and President
  • Research with Harvard Professor (see below)
  • Research at local Laboratory (with a small published paper)
  • Free tutoring on the weekends for middle school students


  • I would guess that all of these are pretty strong


  • REA Harvard

What are my chances of getting into Harvard REA? I’m currently conducting research with a professor there, and they have written me a letter of recommendation. How much of an impact will that have?

You are clearly a very strong student. I think that you will do well wherever you end up. You are competitive for Harvard.

Usually we can only say either “no chance” (does not apply in this case) or “your chances are similar to the acceptance rate”. However…

This is the unknown. If you have done a very good job for this particular professor, then this could help you quite a bit. “…with a small published paper” could help you also. The details will matter in both cases.

If you are confident that you want to attend Harvard, and that you can afford it, then to me it looks like it is definitely worth the REA application. I do think that you should make sure to also apply to safeties. Depending upon how much you like your safeties you might want to also apply to match schools.

Congratulations on your successes so far. Keep up the good work!

GPA near the top is not a GPA - what’s your UW GPA and weighted.

It’s Harvard - so you’re likely competitive but so are many more than they can accept - so it’s a lottery.

But you’re certainly worthy. And your previous Harvard connections can only e a positive.

Good luck to you.

My GPA is: 3.98 UW, 4.75 W

You’re a strong candidate. A lot will depend on the applicant pool in your region, and how well you stack up to the others. Not sure how much the professors recommendation will help. It might help tilt the scale a little bit, or it might not help at all. But your stats are strong enough. Good luck

Actually the information provided is more relevant than the actual GPA. Schools look how you did in the context of the school you attended. What courses were offered, and what courses did you take. What were your grades and how did that measure up against the rest of your peers. Being ranked in the top 5 is more telling than saying my UW GPA was 3.98.


I think your chances of getting into one or more HYPSM colleges is good. But it’s hard to predict whether you will actually get into a specific one. I think your best shot is actually at MIT, but it’s fine to do Harvard EA and MIT RD.

FYI, in some ways your profile is similar to my son’s and he is at Harvard today.

I also have a girl in my school who also plans on applying to Harvard. She is STEM focused, and has qualified for the USAJMO, but that is about it. She does have a sister legacy though (she’s still at Harvard). Will I be able to compete with her?

Does not count. Harvard only considers parents. And even then, it’s only parents who attended as undergrads.

I think you worry about yourself. If you’re a worthy of Harvard student and those here say you are, then go for it. Don’t worry about what’s out if your control. Just know you (and she) will both likely get rejected just based on the merits.

Hopefully you have safeties as well

I wouldn’t worry about it. If they like both of you, they will accept both of you.