What is Harvard looking for in it's applicants?

<p>What do you need (beyond fantastic GPA and SAT scores) to get in?</p>

<p>I've heard it said, from admissions types, that the very top universities are looking for someone who they think may be the leaders of tomorrow. Like a Bill Gates or a Barack Obama, or a Fortune 500 CEO, or a Nobel Prize Winner in .... ANYTHING. Of course, most won't accomplish this, but look at those at the top of the mountain, and you see a disproportionate percentage from a very handful of schools.</p>

<p>Is it th education at the school, or is it they do a good job of identifying these individuals? It's a chicken and egg type question.</p>

<p>If true, your application should scream of commitment, accomplishment and potential. There is no set path for this, probably a 'know it when they see it thing."</p>

<p>Money.
(too cynical for a Friday afternoon?)</p>

<p>Possibly they want applicants who know the difference between its and it's:)</p>

<p>It's generally thought that you need to display qualities and accomplishments beyond academics that make you an interesting and unusual person. And having a parent donate millions can certainly help.</p>

<p>Someone who knows the difference between "its" and "it's".</p>

<p>LOL, yeah a little, lynxinsider. Probably doesn't make it any less true. :)</p>

<p>Truthfully I think what you need is luck. It may not be precisely a random selection among the uber-qulaified that dictates who gets in, but from the perspective of any one uber-qualified student, it might as well be. You just have to happen to be what they're looking for at the moment they're crafting their class.</p>

<p>Harvard and other tippy-top schools like it are looking for someone who will make a difference with their presence on campus. It's a given that almost all of the applicants are really, really bright and can handle the academics--but aside from the ability to study as necessary, what will you bring to the blend?</p>

<p>From an outsider's perspective, a near-perfect GPA in the most rigorous high school courses available, and very high test scores (probably 700+ on each SAT section, 32+ on each ACT section) is probably necessary, but nowhere near sufficient, for "normal" applicants (not celebrity, legacy, etc. applicants).</p>

<p>Then, among applicants meeting that academic stat criteria, you might as well look at it like a lottery with a low chance of "winning".</p>

<p>According to the Dean of Admissions at Harvard, "three-dimensional students."</p>

<p>Look at the acceptance thread above. In addition to stellar GPA/SAT, they all have some outstanding ECs as well. The valedectorian from my D's school last year got into Harvard and Stanford both (and who knows where else). She is a national level musician/dancer, 2 varsity sports, super SAT/GPA (of course) and won some community service awards as well. She chose Harvard.</p>

<p>In all seriousness, however, I feel like they want some sort of minimum SAT, GPA, and academic rigor, along with outstanding extracurriculars, a good personality/interview, and a hook that makes the candidate a valuable member of the Harvard community. If you look at the Yale Acceptance thread, (It was moved because applications were sent in - not sure where it is now) the top poster had a perfect SAT, many perfect subject tests, a great GPA, and many academic extracurriculars and extracurrics. Many other posters with similar profiles and slightly worse numeral statistics got rejected as well. That gives me the impression that you need a good hook or something that shows that you're not a total nerd and have a somewhat balanced repertoire.</p>

<p>Harvard is looking for "the diamond-in-the-rough." As others have commented, they are looking for the tippy-top student who also offers something extraordinary. Think Bill Gates, Matt Damon, Mark Zuckerberg -- yes all those students dropped out before graduating -- but they all had something extra special going into the applications process. And, most importantly, because of their success, all have "given back" to Harvard!</p>

<p>Other than what everyone has written - of course, big big legacy, famous person, VIPs etc..etc. Yep 'potential to give back' counts :)</p>

<p>'The</a> Ideal High School Graduate' - NYTimes.com</p>

<p>I would like to take a contrarian position here and asked the opposition question. What have you conveyed in your application package who you are and what you will bring to Harvard? When you get down to the top half of the applicant pool, the differences in academic accomplishments are miniscule. It will come down to make a connection with the "reader" and help the reader to make a case for you in front of the whole committee.</p>