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How can I get into Harvard?



QUESTION: Since you both attended Harvard, I feel that you two would be the best people to ask about the school. I'm sure you hear this a lot, but please understand that I really want to go there.

My freshman year of high school is going really well. I have close to a 4.0 GPA at my double honors high school. I have become increasingly involved with guitar lessons and high school level athletics. I'm also one of three freshmen writing on the school newspaper staff, and I have taken challenging courses.

I have dedicated a lot of my time to preparing for college. Would you please give me specific advice on gaining admission to Harvard. Also, is there any way I can contact an admission officer to ask them questions, and will it help me to explain my passion for Harvard when I apply? Signed, Worker Bee

Dear Worker Bee: Were you born with the Harvard "H" stamped on your forehead? It sounds like you know what your goal is and are doing everything possible to attain it. We applaud you for that.

You are on the right way toward Cambridge. It's crucial that you continue to challenge yourself with honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Your grades and test scores will be a key factor in getting into college.

For selective colleges like Harvard, it is not enough to have strong grades and test scores. You need to distinguish yourself in another way. Whether you do so in athletics, journalism, art, music, academics or another way is not important. What counts is that you stand out. As you spend more time in your activities, figure out which you enjoy the most, and then dedicate yourself to those. Increase your responsibilities, become a leader or make a special contribution to that activity. In other words, become a skilled guitarist, a star athlete or newspaper editor.

Besides reviewing applications, admission officers are employed to answer prospective students' questions. You can contact one by calling the admission office. If you do, be sure not to ask questions with obvious answers. You will have the opportunity to describe your passion for attending the school in a personal interview.

As you get closer to your senior year, you will also need to write a compelling essay, select the right teachers to write your recommendations and prepare for the standardized tests. But your current classes and activities are what you should focus on now.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.