Chance to get into Harvard/Brown/Pomona

Hi all,

It would be really helpful if you guys could chance me for Harvard, Brown and Pomona.

Here are my stats:
-I attend a small public charter school (top 1% in California)
-UW GPA: 4.0
-W GPA: 4.55
-ACT: 32C (34E 30M 31R 34S / 30Essay) I’ve only taken it once so I’m going to take it again
-SAT II: haven’t taken but get 700-750 on practice tests
-I take the hardest offered course load

-I have legacy at Harvard


-biggest is freerunning (like parkour or American Ninja Warrior) I practice around 15-20hrs a week and was recently hired by my academy to become a coach. I rank #1 between the three Freerunning Academies in LA and SD (they share 1 ranking system)


  • I play around 3-4 hours a week, take lessons, and have participated in the nation piano guild
  • I am in my school’s jazz band

-I’ve been participating for 5 years; I’ve been on the team for 3 and will take over as team captain next year

-student government/ student body president
-elected high school body president as a freshman (I am technically still president since no other school election has taken place)
-11th grade representative

  • been an active member for all years of HS

-National Honors Society (member)

-Key Club (member)

-community service:

  • through NHS and KC, I have done about 200 hrs of CC ( includes volunteering to teach kids freerunning and active beach cleanup)
  • done around 300 independently

-photography club (VP, President next year)
-going to hold an exhibition at the end of the school year

-astronomy club
-also took college astronomy class and got an A

that’s about everything. Thanks for taking your time to respond and be as honest as possible. Thanks!

I would probably apply with major in English/ Creative Writing but I could major in so many different things

Keep the GPA where it is if possible – can’t beat a 4.0. At the same time, don’t be too distraught if you get a B. At this point, a B won’t hurt you much, if at all.

Try to improve the ACT to a 33+ for Pomona and Brown and 34+ for Harvard.
There are theories about what the “hurdle” SAT/ACT score is for each school for unhooked applicants. I’m not sure anyone has really figured it out yet. But I think a fair goal is to shoot for the average score of admitted applicants.

ECs: Talk about what you really love. I don’t think there’s much of a formula to this: they want to know you, how you will fit in and augment these (already great) schools. So just show them what you love, how you have performed at it, and what it means to you. I think it’s better to talk about relatively fewer ECs with more depth of knowledge/performance/love, than it is to list ten things and give no indication that you really cared for any of them.

There is no sugar-coating the fact that these are all reach schools. Because of that, you need to also apply to some lower reaches/matches and a safety you would not mind attending (and can afford).

Read about these schools; really try to get inside them, the pros and cons of each. In essays, if applicable, mention specific attributes of each school and how your skills, personality and interests would mesh with, or improve, those areas/items.

If you are not sure about your major, make sure you apply to schools that are strong all-around. Check for available majors.

Your post caught my attention as my son was most interested in Yale, Brown, and Pomona. Your GPA is great, keep up the good work! I concur that trying to raise your ACT to a 33-35 would be beneficial for these schools, you can self-prep with a focus on math and reading. It wouldn’t hurt to try taking the SAT, but that is up to you as your ACT score is good, and you could just stay focused on that. How have you done on AP tests?

My son ultimately applied ED to Pomona as it was the best fit for him. I would seriously look into the English and Creative Writing offerings at each of these schools. I know nothing about the offerings at Pomona, or the other schools in the Claremont consortium. I know good writing skills are generally important at Pomona as my son writes a good amount of papers for a non-writing major (a shocking amount in my opinion).

Also, what is your personality and where do you see yourself fitting in? I see Pomona and Brown being a similar type of kid, but Harvard as a different type. Legacy aside, do you see yourself at Harvard? The slightly relaxed atmosphere of Pomona and Brown were more appealing to my very type A son as they helped to relax him, and Pomona has actually been nurturng for him!

Of all of your EC’s, I think that freerunning seems like your passion, and what is most unique to you. Having an interesting and unique interest is definitely in your favor. I could see this being part of your essays, memorable to admissions, etc.

You have a great range of interests and would be a great candidate for any school. But, be realistic, and don’t limit your options. These are 3 great schools with very low admission rates, and there are so many! other great schools! Have lots of safeties and matches, with just a few reaches. There are so many schools where you can be happy.

Best wishes!

@rav525 thanks for the great info! These are my reach schools (plus Stanford) and the rest are mostly matches and safeties. I agree with you about my ACT score and I hope to write about freerunning in my essay. I visited all of these schools in the past and I truly do love each of them. However, I do see what you’re saying about Harvard. When I visited, the students seemed very nice and not too uptight, but I’m guessing Harvard is most likely the most academically stressful out of the three. I know that I would fit right in at Brown and Pomona, and the housing system at Harvard would help me find other students that I share common interests with. As for AP tests… My school does not offer them but I self studied for the APES test and AP Lang test (I’m expecting a 4 on both or a 4 on one and a 5 on the other). My weighted GPA comes from my honors classes instead. Again, thanks for the information!

You have a great UW GPA, however, if you’re taking a very rigorous course load, it seems to me that your W GPA should be higher (I know at my school an UW of 4.0 in the most rigorous curriculum would be about a 4.85 W by the end of Junior year). Let’s face it, it really helps that you have legacy at Harvard. I don’t see any AP scores??? Also the type of high school you go to and the eliteness (if that’s even a word) of your high school do not play a role in college admissions (for example, the fact that your school is in the top 1% in California will not incline the admissions committee to view you as a stronger applicant). You should try to increase your ACT score so that it’s above average for Harvard and Brown (pretty much general advice), and you should try to get your SAT II scores more near the 800 mark. The fact that you participate in free running is very unique (I’m not even quite sure what free running is). Be sure to talk about that in your essays, but DO NOT just describe what free running is or give some cheesy story about how it has changed your life (unless it really has!). I could see you writing a creative essay about this topic. To be honest, free running and legacy are the only things that really stand out about your application. A lot of the leadership positions that you have are very common among other competitive candidates. My best advice for you to stand out would be to obviously use your legacy hook, make sure free running is mentioned in your application, and do something very interesting with your leadership roles (i.e. do an amazing project to help the school, since you are student body president). Good luck!

The advice everyone is giving is pretty spot on. Make sure you can do whatever you can to increase your chance at admissions to your top schools. I wish that I studied much harder on my SATs and ACTs…so if you can raise your scores, do so.
However, if your current situation doesn’t improve significantly or at all, I would still recommend you to apply to these schools. You never know what the outcome may be if you don’t try.