Archive for December, 2012

He Got into Harvard?

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

I want to tell you a story about a current undergrad at Harvard College.  He was not a top scholar, or an outstanding athlete in high school. How did he become one of the selected 7%?

At a competitive high school he was a good student, but not a stellar one.  His SAT’s were lower than Harvard’s 2300 average and his transcript was replete with an equal amount of B’s and A’s. His transcript, however, showed he took the most challenging AP courses offered by his high school. He did not have a strong extra -curricular resume nor was he a legacy applicant.  The highest position he held was that of secretary at his school’s public service organization.  Just a normal white Anglo-Saxon Protestant aka a WASP, don’t you think?

He was not optimistic about his chances of admission to such a competitive college.  He did realize, however, that his chances would be enhanced if he worked really hard on his essays and got excellent teacher evaluations.  A standout quality that he did have was that he always worked to the best of his ability.  He said, “I also spent a lot of time on my essay and must have written and rewritten it a dozen or more times.”

When he received his acceptance letter from Harvard his friends were amazed!  He was amazed!  How did he do it?  These are his words: “It was pretty obvious that is was not my grades, scores, or activities that got me in.  I think I owe it mostly to my essays and evaluations.”

Seniors know why we emphasize the importance of getting started on application essays at the end of junior year.  Plus, it is important to follow a particular method for handling evaluations from teachers.  Please remember this if you are not yet a senior.

In addition, after one year at Harvard his grades are better than those of his fellow students, who had stronger grades in high school. The Admissions team at Harvard obviously recognized the quality of his work ethic, and strong desire to do the best he could, always.

If the reader is a high school student with aspirations of getting into one of the most competitive colleges, take note.  You cannot “rest” on your straight ‘A’ transcript and 2300 SAT’s or 36 ACT’s and consider it a “done deal”.  At the most competitive colleges they are not only looking for diversity in the student body and a decent academic record.  They are also looking for strength of character, work ethic and intellectual curiosity, qualities that no doubt were brought out by teachers in this student’s recommendations.