Is it even worth applying to Harvard/MIT? Class of 23'

Hi all.

I am currently debating if it is even worth applying to Harvard/MIT. I am trying to create a list of prospective colleges to apply to my Senior year (next year). I would be majoring in Computer Science!

Some of my stats are

Projected 3.8 UW GPA by the time I apply to schools (Honors, AP’s almost full Dual-Enrollment junior year, full time enrollment senior year.) I guess it is important to note I am taking these classes at a college instead of in a HS classroom.

Upward Trend

Definitely in the top ~10% of the class/400-500 students

African American

Difficult background which will probably make me stand out a tad more…

I am shooting for a 1500+ SAT and have pretty strong extra curriculars. (Work, Research Poistions, Internships, Competitions) Most of my extra curriculars are related to my majors but all of my internships so far have focused on community outreach and advocating for my student body. I also have a website focused around being an advocate…

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, if you can explain to them/show them why you are right for their school - then of course it’s worth it.

The worst they can say is no - and yes, it’s a lot of work and the reality is they likely will - but a small fraction of who applies gets in.

Just make sure you have targets and safeties lined up as well.

Besides they are close geographically and by some considered the top two schools in the country - what’s the appeal of each? Hopefully more than the name…


The appeal of Harvard is their diverse student body, top ranking in Computer Science. Harvard also seems like a more collaborative environment which would introduce me to different perspectives and such. I also think Harvard (like any top school, really) would open a lot of doors and connections for me which can help aide me in achieving my goals in life. I also know it will challenge me which is something I like.

MIT kind of scares me because I heard a lot of their student body tends to be more overachieving, but I also feel like I would fit in there as well because who else just takes 15 credits for fun over the summer? They are also a top STEM school not to mention they’re ranked pretty high in Computer Science as well. STEM has always been my passion and my entire education has been STEM focused. So, I think continuing on to a STEM school would be a great path. Once again it also opens more doors and connections that will help me pursue my goals and passions.

What matters to me most is quality of Computer Science program!

If you don’t apply, you have a 0% chance of getting in. I’d shoot my shot if I were you, as long as you’re able to pay the applications fee/have a waiver, have the time to write the essays and prepare your application, and would attend the school if accepted.


I agree. Definitely give it a shot.

What competitions have you won? And at what level?

Can you elaborate on your research activities?

Since STEM/CS is your passion make sure you pick targets and safeties that are also good in this area. What state are you in?

Based on your answers to the above, we can provide more guidance and recommendations to boost your chances before application season arrives.

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Schools like MIT/Harvard will be interested in you as they don’t get as many strong URM applicants as they would like. You have a great academic profile and if you can get a 1500+ on the SAT that would just add to an already impressive resume. It is certainly worth a shot. Before finalizing any college list, however, you need to find out what type of budget you will have and run some NPCs at schools you are interested in - and, of course, have a variety of matches and safeties to go along with these reaches.

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MIT’s CS department is faaaaaarrrrrrrr superior to Harvard’s. Not that Harvard’s sucks; it doesn’t. But if CS quality is the most important component, I’d be looking at Stanford and/or CMU before (or in addition to) Harvard


That’s fair - but what you write about MIT sounds counter to it being a good fit for you.

Lots of great CS colleges. Again, if you have the time and effort, it’s fine applying. You make Harvard seem better.

College is about fit - not just rank, prestige and it’s competitive. My son has #s better than you. Got into Purdue engineering. Goes to Alabama though. Getting his a$$ kicked. So you will get a rigorous education and fine job opportunities anywhere.

btw - Harvard not top ten for CS in US News…which most follow - see attached.

It won’t let me put in niche’s link because it’s a competing website but if you do CS plus Niche dot com - you can see their rankings as well. They go past top ten. They list Harvard #7 - but there’s lot of other great schools including other Ivies, CMU, Illinois, Purdue.

Again, find your matches and safeties too - and you can go to a prestigious school or a cheap school or both depending on your finances.

Just make sure you convey to them why you are the right student!!!

2022 Best Undergraduate Computer Science Programs - US News Rankings


As an URM with those stats (especially if you’re an AA male), you have a shot anywhere. Apply anywhere you want to go. Harvard is generous with fin aid if you qualify for it.

If you can get a 1500 or higher on the SAT, and hit your goal of an UW 3.8, then you will solidly be in contention. That is all anyone can ask for with elite universities.

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Definitely worth applying to both, but you will need to take a standardized test for MIT. The others, you can probably apply TO to the others based on what you get.

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MIT was test optional for 2021-22, and may remain that way next year as well.

@Shoeby, please disregard my questions. I see you provided this information (and received a lot of good advice) already on another thread.

The only thing I’d add is: you may want to consider applying to Princeton University. They have a highly ranked CS program, and will provide you a more balanced college experience if the intensity of MIT doesn’t seem like a good fit. Princeton is need-blind and full meet-need, so worth a shot.

From MIT’s website:

“despite the limitations of these exams, our research shows that considering performance on the SAT/ACT substantially improves our ability to predict subsequent student success at MIT. When we have SAT/ACT scores for a student, we can more confidently assess their preparation; when we don’t, we have to look (even) harder at other factors”

Now if the OP can’t take it because of covid-related reasons, sure then you can’t submit. You should read the above as MIT still being test-required.


Stanford is actually my #1 already! CMU is too expensive.

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I’m still going to take the SAT test because I don’t have a 4.0 GPA. Having a great SAT score will surely reinforce my application to prove I am a good student.

Yeah, the plan was to always take standardized testing anyways and I am scheduled for March 9th already :}

Thank you! this was extremely helpful. :}

I would make sure you think a lot about the environment where you want to go to school and not just prestige. There are a lot of great cs programs out there besides MIT and Stanford. Do you think you’d like a city campus, rural campus, etc? Does size matter? How far away from home do you want to be? Does a collaborative vs competitive environment matter?

Take a look at the niche CS rankings. Niche does a great job of giving information about the environment you might expect at the school and shows reviews that students give about their experience.