In 2022, Harvard received over 60,000 applications for less than 2000 seats. Of those 2000, approximately 700 are reserved for students with special talent in fields such as music, sports, acting, writing, as well as for those with striking accomplishments such as Olympic gold medals, best-selling books, creation of multimillion dollar corporations, or ideas that have left indelible mark on the world before the age of 20. The rest of Harvard’s applicants are students with stellar academic records. Many are valedictorians of their schools, have perfect GPA and SAT scores, and 10 or more perfect AP scores of 5. You would certainly think that your valedictorian child would be a sure bet for Harvard, until you consider the fact that there are far more high schools in America than there are seats in Harvard’s incoming class. Now, let’s add to this group of US-based super-achiever students all the other students from all around the world who also believe they are sure bets to get into Harvard. There are 195 countries in the world and Harvard likes to take students from most, if not all, of them. Further, no one applies to Harvard unless they feel they have a reasonable chance of getting in, based on the fact that they are extraordinary students.
So, considering these numbers, unless your child has one of these extraordinary talents or accomplishments, it is unlikely that he or she is going to get into Harvard. No matter how many guarantees are out there, the truth is that there is no such thing as a Harvard guarantee and anyone that tells you there is, or that says that they have insider information that will propel you directly to the top of the long list of applicants, is lying to you. If your child is a 12th grader with a 3.0 GPA, a 1440 SAT score, no Olympic gold medals and no other extraordinary talents or accomplishments, he’s not going to get into Harvard, and no one can change that! I would love to tell you something different, but that is the truth. Not even a $10 million contribution can change that. If you don’t belong, then you don’t get in. Conversely, if your child possesses all the requisite numbers, skills, and accomplishments, he certainly can boost his chances by presenting himself in the best possible light.
Of course, I cite Harvard merely as a representation of all top colleges. The same holds true for all the big-name colleges that populate your dreams and kitchen table conversations. But there is another side of the story. There are lots of students who have all the qualifications needed to get into these top colleges. In fact, there are far more students with these amazing resumes and transcripts then there are seats at top colleges. In other words, there are lots of students who deserve to get in but who will not, simply because there are not enough seats. For these students, the difference between success and rejection will be how you present yourself to colleges through your application, through your perseverance, through your recommendations, and through your interview.
The Keys to Success
The most important point of all is that, if you are currently an underclassman, you do have an opportunity to boost your personal profile to an Ivy League level. When it comes to applying to top colleges across America, time, and an experienced college admission consultant, are your most important assets. You can become the type of student that they are looking for. You can provide top colleges with a reason to choose you over the thousands of other applicants that are all vying for the same seats. So, the truth may be hard to swallow or it may provide a wake-up call to a greater opportunity than you can possibly imagine. The moment you enter high school, your life is an open recording that cannot be erased. If you make the best use of your time and demonstrate vision, persistence, and skill, you too can wake up sleeping among the Ivies.