Shape Your Future at the Harvard Secondary School Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student smiling at the camera.

Shape Your Future at the Harvard Secondary School Program

In a competitive college admissions landscape, participation in a program like the Harvard Secondary School Program (HSSP) can set you apart from other applicants. It demonstrates your commitment to academic excellence and your willingness to go above and beyond to prepare for college life.

In this article, we will delve deeper into what the HSSP entails, explore the courses available, and discuss the various benefits it offers to incoming college students like you. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of why HSSP is a fantastic choice for those looking to jumpstart their college journey.

What is the Harvard Secondary School Program?

Pre-college programs have become increasingly important in today’s competitive academic landscape. They offer a unique opportunity to get a taste of college life before you even step foot on campus. One such program that holds immense value for incoming college students is the Harvard Secondary School Program.

The Harvard Secondary School Program is a remarkable opportunity designed for high school students like you to experience the academic rigor and vibrant campus life of Harvard University. Let’s dive into what makes HSSP a unique pre-college program.

Harvard flag is seen outside the Harvard Cooperative Society (the Coop), a collegiate bookstore on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

History and Background

HSSP has a rich history dating back decades. It was established with the vision of offering high school students a taste of higher education at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions. Over the years, it has evolved into a transformative experience for students looking to enrich their academic journey.

Duration and Structure

HSSP offers both a 4-week and a 7-week program, allowing you to choose the duration that suits your goals. During these weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in college-level courses.

The program boasts a wide array of subjects, with courses ranging from humanities to STEM fields. Classroom hours vary based on the course’s credit value, ensuring flexibility and adaptability to your academic interests and schedule.

The 7-week program, in particular, offers different formats, including the option to live on the Harvard campus. This provides a taste of independent living and fosters a sense of community among participants.


To be eligible for the Harvard Secondary School Program, you should meet specific criteria. You must either be in high school or have recently graduated from high school. Typically, applicants are between 16 and 19 years old.

It’s essential to check the specific age and grade requirements for the year you plan to attend. The program is designed for motivated and academically inclined students who seek a challenging educational experience.


Here’s a list of sample courses available at the Harvard Secondary School Program:

  1. Comparative Literature: Explore the world of literature through a comparative lens, examining literary works from different cultures and time periods.
  2. Creative Writing: Hone your writing skills and unleash your creativity in this course, where you’ll explore various forms of creative writing, from poetry to short stories.
  3. Computer Science: Dive into the world of coding and algorithms, gaining hands-on experience in computer science and programming.
  4. Mathematics: Strengthen your mathematical foundation and tackle challenging mathematical concepts and problem-solving.
  5. Science: Engage in scientific inquiry and experimentation, delving into various scientific disciplines such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
  6. Humanities: Immerse yourself in the humanities, studying subjects like history, philosophy, and ethics to gain a deeper understanding of human culture and society.
  7. Social Sciences: Explore the complexities of human behavior and societal structures through courses in psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
  8. Visual and Performing Arts: Unleash your artistic talents in courses covering visual arts, theater, and music, allowing you to express your creativity.
  9. Business and Economics: Gain insights into the world of business and economics, learning about entrepreneurship, finance, and market dynamics.
  10. Political Science: Dive into the world of politics and international relations, examining government systems and global issues.
  11. Languages: Study languages from around the world, enhancing your linguistic skills and cultural understanding.
  12. Environmental Science: Explore environmental issues and sustainability, understanding the importance of protecting our planet.

a professor in front of his class

These courses offer a diverse range of subjects, allowing you to tailor your academic experience to your interests and goals. Whether you’re passionate about literature, science, or the arts, the Harvard Secondary School Program provides an enriching educational experience in various fields of study.

Distinguishing Features

What sets HSSP apart from other pre-college programs is not just its prestigious name but also its commitment to academic excellence. The program is known for its rigorous coursework, ensuring that you’re challenged and intellectually stimulated.

Moreover, HSSP provides you with a taste of college life at one of the world’s top universities, offering an unparalleled opportunity for personal growth. Living and learning alongside peers from diverse backgrounds creates an environment conducive to networking, cultural exchange, and personal development.

This unique blend of academic rigor and personal enrichment distinguishes HSSP as an exceptional choice for high school students looking to prepare for their future college journey.

In summary, the Harvard Secondary School Program is a transformative pre-college experience with a rich history, diverse course offerings, flexible structures, and a unique blend of academic rigor and personal growth opportunities, making it an outstanding choice for high school students like you.

Benefits of Participating in the Harvard Secondary School Program

Participating in the Harvard Secondary School Program offers a myriad of benefits that can profoundly impact your academic and personal development. Let’s delve into why HSSP is a valuable opportunity for high school students like you:

Academic Advantages

  1. College Credit: HSSP allows you to earn college credit for the courses you successfully complete. This not only provides a head start on your college journey but also demonstrates your ability to excel in a rigorous academic environment.
  2. Rigorous Coursework: The program offers a challenging curriculum that mirrors college-level courses. Engaging with this coursework enhances your critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management skills, essential for success in higher education and beyond.

Personal Growth Opportunities

  1. Networking: HSSP provides a unique opportunity to connect with peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering valuable relationships. Building a network of like-minded individuals can prove instrumental in your future academic and professional pursuits.
  2. Exposure to Diverse Perspectives: Interacting with students from around the world exposes you to a wide range of viewpoints and cultural experiences. This exposure not only enriches your worldview but also encourages open-mindedness and adaptability.

Enhancing College Applications

  1. Demonstrated Commitment: Your participation in HSSP demonstrates your commitment to academic excellence and your willingness to seek out challenging opportunities. Admissions officers value applicants who have actively pursued such experiences.
  2. Unique Experience: HSSP stands out on college applications. It showcases your readiness for college-level coursework and independent living, setting you apart from other applicants.

In conclusion, HSSP offers a unique blend of academic advantages, personal growth opportunities, and a significant enhancement to your college applications. It equips you with the skills and experiences needed to thrive in higher education and beyond. Participating in HSSP can be a pivotal step toward a successful academic and professional future.

How to Apply and Prepare for the Harvard Secondary School Program

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the Harvard Secondary School Program application process, along with practical tips for a successful application:

Sming woman analyzing something on her laptop.

Eligibility Check

Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria outlined on the official HSSP website. This typically includes being a high school student and meeting the age requirement.

Program Selection

Explore the various courses and programs offered during HSSP to find the one that aligns with your academic interests and goals.

Gather Required Documents

Prepare your academic transcripts, test scores (if required), teacher recommendations, and any other supporting documents.

Online Application

Complete the online application through the official HSSP website. Provide accurate and honest information.

Personal Statement

Craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your passion for learning and why you want to participate in HSSP. Be concise and specific.

Teacher Recommendations

Request teacher recommendations well in advance. Choose teachers who can speak to your academic abilities and character.

Financial Aid

If you require financial aid, complete the necessary forms and submit them by the specified deadline.

Application Fee

Pay the application fee ($75), if applicable. Ensure it’s submitted on time.

Review and Edit

Review your application thoroughly for any errors or missing information. Make necessary edits before submission.

Submit Before the Deadline

Be aware of the application deadline, which can vary each year. Submit your application well before the cutoff date to avoid any issues.

Tips for Success

  • Start early: Begin the application process well in advance to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Be authentic: Write your personal statement in your own voice, showcasing your genuine passion for learning.
  • Showcase your achievements: Highlight any relevant academic or extracurricular accomplishments.
  • Follow instructions: Pay close attention to the application guidelines provided by HSSP.
  • Seek help if needed: If you have questions or face challenges during the application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to the program’s admissions team for assistance.

Deadlines and Requirements

Application deadlines typically fall in late winter or early spring. Check the official HSSP website for the most up-to-date information on deadlines and requirements for the specific year you plan to apply.

By following these steps and tips, you’ll have a strong application for the Harvard Secondary School Program, increasing your chances of being accepted into this prestigious summer program.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for the Harvard Secondary School Program

If you’re considering the Harvard Secondary School Program but concerned about the costs, don’t worry—there are scholarship opportunities and financial planning options available to make your dream of attending Harvard a reality.

a student writing on her notebook and looking at the camera

Scholarship Opportunities

Harvard offers scholarships to Secondary School Program students with excellent academic records who demonstrate financial need. These scholarships can significantly reduce the program’s cost, making it accessible to a wider range of students. To be eligible, you need to meet certain criteria, including academic excellence and financial need.

To maximize your chances of securing a scholarship, focus on maintaining a strong academic record and showcasing your financial need through the application process.

Financial Planning for Participation

Aside from scholarships, effective financial planning is essential for a smooth experience in the Secondary School Program. Here’s a simple guide to help you plan your finances:

  1. Budgeting: Create a detailed budget that includes program fees, travel expenses, and personal spending. This will give you a clear picture of the overall cost.
  2. Financial Aid Resources: Explore all available financial aid resources, not just from Harvard but also external scholarships and grants.
  3. Payment Plans: Check if Harvard offers flexible payment plans, allowing you to spread the cost over several installments.
  4. Part-Time Work: Consider part-time work during the program to cover some expenses.
  5. Financial Literacy: Educate yourself about financial management to make informed decisions during your time at Harvard.
  6. Emergency Fund: Establish an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

By carefully planning your finances and exploring scholarship options, you can make the Harvard Secondary School Program an achievable and enriching experience.

Remember, financial assistance is available, and with the right strategy, you can embark on this exciting educational journey without financial barriers.

Preparing for the Harvard Experience

As you embark on your journey to the Harvard Secondary School Program, proper preparation is key to ensuring a smooth and successful experience.

  1. Program Research: Start by thoroughly researching the program’s curriculum and expectations. Understand the courses you’ll be taking and any prerequisites.
  2. Academic Readiness: Ensure you’re academically prepared. Review relevant subjects, brush up on key concepts, and seek help if needed. Being academically confident will boost your performance.
  3. Packing Essentials: Make a checklist of essential items to pack for your stay at Harvard. Don’t forget personal items, clothing for different weather, and any special supplies you might need.
  4. Housing Arrangements: Familiarize yourself with the housing arrangements provided by Harvard. You may have roommates from various backgrounds, offering a unique cultural experience.
  5. Moving In: Be aware of the move-in dates and times. Arrive on time to settle into your dorm and meet fellow participants.
  6. Campus Life: Embrace campus life! Engage in activities, clubs, and events offered by the program. It’s a chance to build lasting friendships and explore your interests.
  7. Academic Support: Utilize the academic resources available. Harvard offers support services to help you excel in your studies.
  8. Explore Harvard: Take time to explore Harvard’s renowned campus. Visit libraries, museums, and historical sites. Immerse yourself in the rich intellectual atmosphere.
  9. Stay Informed: Stay updated with program announcements and guidelines. Keep an eye on important dates, assignments, and deadlines.
  10. Independence: Use this experience to build independence and self-reliance. Take responsibility for your schedule, time management, and personal growth.

Remember, the Harvard Secondary School Program is not just about academics; it’s about personal development and discovering your potential. Embrace the unique housing, vibrant campus life, and extensive resources to make your Harvard experience truly transformative. Enjoy your time at Harvard and make the most of this incredible opportunity!


In conclusion, the Harvard Secondary School Program offers a remarkable opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in an academically rigorous and diverse environment. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Diverse Peer Community: The program provides a chance to connect with a diverse group of peers who share common interests.
  2. Academic Excellence: It offers a high-quality academic experience, allowing you to explore courses and subjects of interest.
  3. Personal Growth: The Harvard experience fosters personal growth, independence, and self-reliance.
  4. Rich Campus Life: You’ll have the opportunity to engage in campus life, from clubs and events to exploring Harvard’s renowned campus.
  5. Supportive Resources: The program provides academic and campus support services to help you succeed.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to broaden your horizons, meet diverse peers, and experience life at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions. Take the initiative to explore the program, gather information, and start your journey towards a transformative educational experience. Your future awaits, and the Harvard Secondary School Program can be the stepping stone to your success.

a group of cornell students

Recognizing the weight of such decisions, our consultancy company stands ready to guide you. AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what we offer.

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