Harvard. Is there any other name in American academia that immediately demands such respect? Young academics all over the country – and even the world – dream of walking down the hallowed halls of the nation’s first institution of higher education, soaking in the atmosphere from an amazing 376 years of intelligentsia.
And why wouldn’t they? After all, wouldn’t you want attend the school that has had 44 Nobel Laureates and has given 13 U.S. Presidents honorary degrees? Or that has such a tight-knit community that 97 percent of undergraduates decide to continue living on campus during all four years?
Unfortunately, the very attractiveness and intellectual rigor of Harvard have also made it one of the most difficult schools to get into, so only an incredibly small percentage of applying high school students are accepted. But you don’t have to lose hope if you don’t fall into this ridiculously elite category upon your graduation from high school. Why? Because of Harvard College’s transfer program.
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Though it, too, accepts only a small number of people each year, there is hope – even if you decided to begin your studies at a community college instead of a four-year university. But how? The key is to demonstrate “academic need” . Essentially this means that you have to not only succeed at your current place of study but excel to such a degree that you can provide evidence of academic achievements going far above and beyond what was expected. This includes glowing recommendations from faculty. You can start by checking out our community college transfer guide.
In general, Harvard’s transfer admission standards remain the same whether you’re coming from a four-year institution or a community college:
High school transcripts and official test results
Even if you applied for freshman admission, the admissions office will need a copy of your transcript as well as the results of your ACT, SAT I and – if you took it – SAT II. The test results have to be sent over by the College Board or American College Testing Program for them to be considered official.
Those students who attended international secondary schools must provide certified results of all appropriate exams, such as I.B., Abitur, A levels, and French Baccalaureate. If not in English, an official translation has to be included, as well as an explanation of any marking system that does not match the U.S. model.
The good thing about transferring from community college to Harvard is that it’s possible for you to retake the standardized exams, if you wish, and improve your scores so that you have a better chance at getting in. In fact, Harvard requests that the results be recent because they don’t believe that anything from three or more years ago accurately represents your current knowledge and capability. In addition, they require anyone for whom English isn’t their first language to submit TOEFL results, and recommend taking at least two SAT II: Subject Tests.
This is where all the work you put in at community college comes into play. Transfer students have to have completed no less than one full, continuous year of study and no more than two years at an institution of higher learning. And to transfer from community college to Harvard, you’re going to want your GPA to be perfect. It’s also important to note that you are only eligible for transfer if your community college has a liberal arts curriculum similar to Harvard’s, but this shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
You need two absolutely glowing recommendations from teaching assistants or – preferably – professors who’ve worked closely with you and are familiar with your work. It is not necessary for you to have chosen a field of study yet, but if you have, one of the letters of recommendation should be from a professor in your field. This is true for anyone wishing to transfer from community college to Ivy League universities.
Specialization and rigor
Even though it’s not necessary for transfer applicants to already have a major declared, the transfer committee actively looks for applicants who will be coming into the school with a good amount of preparation and experience in the field the student believes will be their focus. That means that those unsure whether they really want to devote themselves to math, business, or English literature should still try to take courses in their potential focus area in order to explore the direction they want to go and show that they are well-prepared for when they do pick a field of study.
Equally important is that hopeful transfer students can show that they took courses of the highest possible level of difficulty at their current institution, since this helps to demonstrate both that they can handle the rigor of Harvard academic life and that they are not being sufficiently challenged by their curriculum at the moment. Moreover, the committee wants to see that your developing academic interests are ones that can be better served by what they are able to offer at Harvard.
That certain something
Grades and test scores are important, of course, but when an institution is as selective as Harvard, it’s also vital that you stand out in some other way. The Harvard transfer application is your chance to stand out. The committee looks beyond the numbers for ways that you have been able to display leadership, independent thinking, motivation, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and a sense of responsibility. These can be shown in a wide variety of ways – donating your time and skills to volunteer efforts, creating a startup company or patenting a new invention, actively campaigning for political change in a specific area, publishing a novel – the point is simply that you adequately articulate your interests, abilities, and achievements.
About the Author
Robert Mansions is a writer for Apartments Management Group. Aside from constantly reviewing Apts for rent here, Robert also enjoys spending time with his family and going skiing.