What Harvard Looks For In A Student?

Getting into an Ivy League school (more specifically, Harvard) might just be one of the biggest achievements in one’s student life. It doesn’t just have to do with the selective nature of the school, but the prestige that comes with it. For one to be able to say that they are/were part of Harvard is a huge positive at any point of their lives and it is precisely this point that encourages a student to be part of Harvard College.With that being said, the difficulty of admission into Harvard University is just as high as the prestige that comes with being a part of their student base- and that’s a lot! With a lot of things to be done for one to be a part of a prestigious school like Harvard, it might seem like there’s a lot for you to do to even be considered. If you’re one of those people that have no idea where to start and would like to work your back off to go to Harvard, then this article is for you. In this article, you’ll read about precisely what a Harvard admissions officer is looking for in prospective students and consequently, what you need to do to be at the front of the line of preference. But to know what Harvard wants to see in their students, it is first imperative to know what they don’t want so you can have some basic ground rules set out. Let us learn about, What Harvard Looks For In A Student?

What Harvard Looks For In A Student?

What Harvard Looks For In A Student?

What Harvard Isn’t Looking For?

While there are a lot of people to tell you what Harvard wants and what they are looking for, there aren’t many out there with the key insight that could change the way you approach and create a successful application- knowing what they don’t want can make your application a lot stronger than you think. 

First things first, being pretentious doesn’t get you anywhere, that includes Harvard. Harvard University is not looking for people who add credit to their profiles just so that they can get into their campus. They’re not looking for people who are adding on and piling up their applications just so it can look good to an applications officer and they can dump them right after they get in. In contrast to popular belief, Harvard is not looking for a long list of extracurriculars. They are not looking for jacks in all trades, not by any measure. Nobody wants to work with someone who has half-baked knowledge in a lot of subjects but no excellence in any of them. 

If you’re one of those people that blow off senior year classes because colleges aren’t bothered with your school grades as they are with your standardized admission scores, your application may well be rejected. Blowing off classes is not a sign of dedication. Harvard is not looking for students that show no signs of self-initiative. If you’re not ready to take a moment and do your research before applying, then that says volumes about who you are and why they shouldn’t consider you at all. 

This last but final point- Harvard doesn’t want to admit people who think that’d be their biggest achievement in life. Harvard looks student who hold themselves to a standard where Harvard is only one part of their journey, not the destination. If you think getting in is your golden ticket to life, there’s a high chance you might not be admitted at all. Now that you know what they don’t want, you should read on to find out what you came here for and what they do want. 

What Harvard Wants ?

Unless you are an extraordinary achiever, Harvard doesn’t stand to get as much for admitting you as you would get for being associated with them. So, the first thing Harvard wants to know is what value you would add to their institution through your admission. They want someone who would add to what they already have. 

Harvard wants people who would show some serious initiative. That starts with showing some interest in them. What do you know about them? What is it about them that makes you want to go there? The admissions officer is looking for students who know more about Harvard than just the fact that it is a good school. 

One very overlooked fact is that Harvard looks for students who can show some demonstrated interest. A very simple way- If you’re curious about something of interest, go ahead and contact them! To show some initiative in your application is a great way to show that you are ready to do whatever it takes to get in and beyond. 

A better than average GPA- The most obvious and the most repeated factor that makes them look at your application twice, is a GPA that is easily better than the average smart guy. Closely associated with your high school GPA are your common entrance test scores, which is a strong indicator of how well you can do in a competitive environment. A Harvard admissions officer wants to see you completely take control of the SAT or the ACT and score very well. 

Harvard is always only looking for those who would be interested in developing themselves at all points of time. They are interested in candidates who can develop themselves and can perform at their very best at all times. The best way for you to assure them of your readiness to grow is by presenting your plan along with credible steps taken to achieve it. 


Getting into Harvard is no joke- it takes a lot of demonstrated excellence to get in and the maturity to understand that you cannot stay where you are to survive also plays a big part. A primary factor in deciding your application’s fate is whether or not you can add on to the greatness you have clearly already shown by getting in: how better can you go? What more can you achieve? Now that you know what they want, get ready to embody all of it. It’s going to be a long ride- so good luck!