How to Transfer to Harvard

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A female college student outside of classroom smiling for the camera

How to Transfer to Harvard

For the majority of college or university students, the school in which they begin their four-year education is also the school from which they graduate after finishing their senior year. With that being said, there is also a rather sizable number of students who end up starting their college education at one school and then transferring to end their education at another.

Whether you are thinking about transferring, or simply curious about the different options available to you, you might be curious about how to transfer to Harvard.

Female students smiling at the camera.

If that is the case, then you have absolutely come to the right place. Here at AdmissionSight, we make it our goal to help students get into the undergraduate programs or graduate programs of their dreams. If that means that you will have to transfer from one school to another we will help you accomplish that goal in every way that we can.

No one said it was going to be easy. But, if you are truly determined to get into Harvard as a college transfer applicant, it is absolutely possible to do.

So, without further delay, let’s get started on what it takes to transfer to Harvard.

Harvard transfer requirements

When it comes to attempting to transfer to Harvard, it is very important that every student interested has all the facts and knows just how difficult this task truly is. On average, Harvard University welcomes a small number of students each fall. Overall, Harvard makes it a priority to accept students whose previous academic experiences prepare them to excel at their new school.

When it comes to each transfer application, Harvard looks for the following factors:

  • A clear and defined academic need to transfer
  • A proven record of achievement at their current school
  • Strong faculty recommendations

To be clear, just because a student may want to transfer to Harvard does not mean that they will be given the opportunity to do so. It is vital that every student who is interested in transferring knows exactly what they are up against.

For example, in recent years Harvard has received as many as 1500 transfer applications per year. At that size, it should already be clear that many of the students who deserve to attend Harvard will simply not get the chance to do so. For that reason, Harvard itself encourages all students who are interested in transferring into their school to also look into transferring to two other similar universities at the same time.

Application requirements

When it comes to the actual application requirements to transfer to Harvard, the criteria is actually quite simple. Let’s go over a sort of quick checklist so that you can be aware of everything that you’ll need to begin the process.

The first thing that you are going to need is the transfer application from either the Universal College Application, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application. Keep in mind that Harvard does not put a preference on any single type of application and that the choice is purely based on what you, the student, feel more comfortable with.

Up next, you are going to have to answer the Harvard questions and writing supplement for the Common Application.

You will also have to pay the $75 application fee or present a fee waiver.

From there, you will typically have to send in either your ACT or SAT scores. Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the current novel coronavirus pandemic, Harvard University is one of the schools that has paused their requirement for standardized testing from applicants.

With that being said, they want to make it clear that they will just consider transfer applicants in fall 2021 without standardized testing if students have been unable to sit for the exam.

However, if students have been able to take the exam Harvard strongly recommends that those students submit their scores. Moreover, if a student has previously applied to Harvard, the school will have access to that student’s prior scores even if they do not report them on their current transfer application.

The additional application requirements are as follows:

  • AP, IB or other examination results are options
  • Self-reported scores are acceptable during the application process, but official scores are required of enrolling students who provided test scores as part of their transfer application
  • College/Dean/Registrar’s report
  • Official college transcript
  • Two College instructor recommendations
  • Official high school transcript

Now that you know the basic requirements for every student who is interested in transferring from one college or university to Harvard, we can now break down the important factors that go into their decision-making process.

What Harvard looks for in transfer students

Through the entire admissions process for transfer students, Harvard makes it a priority to give every transfer applicant the best opportunity to demonstrate both their accomplishments and their interests. Overall, Harvard is happy to consider students who are coming directly from high school towards college as well as those who have followed less traditional paths.

Ultimately, Harvard is looking for impressive achievements amongst the students that they allow studying at their program. Beyond just getting strong grades, test scores, and receiving fantastic letters of recommendation, admissions counselors will also heavily consider other factors that take place outside of the classroom.

Female students holding her books while walking.

This includes significant participation in meaningful extracurricular activities, unique talents and achievements, and more. Harvard also strongly considers the personal qualities of each applicant such as their capacity for leadership, their creativity, their passion, their intellectual curiosity, and their independent thinking.

Harvard encourages students to submit supplementary materials that give the students the opportunity to showcase their unique and exceptional talents. This includes anything from works of art, to pieces of music, to research material, professional success, and more.

To help potential transfer applicants as much as possible, Harvard has actually broken down a lot of the different questions and thoughts that they will consider during the entire process. Here are some, but not all of the questions that they will be asking themselves when they look over your material and application profile:

  • Has the student reached your maximum academic and personal potential?
  • Has the student worked to capacity in their academic pursuits, or their employment?
  • Does the student reserve power to do more?
  • Does the student show initiative? Are they a self-starter? What motivates them?
  • Where will the student be in one, 5, or 25 years? What will they contribute to those around them?
  • What does the student care about deeply from an intellectual, extracurricular, and personal standpoint?
  • What has the student learned from their interests? What have they done with their interest? Have they achieved results? With what success or failure?
  • When it comes to extracurricular activities, have they taken full advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them?
  • What is the quality of their extracurricular activities? Did the student exhibit genuine commitment or have leadership roles in those extracurricular activities?
  • What choices has the student made for themselves and why?
  • Is the student a late bloomer?
  • How open is the student to new ideas and people?
  • Will the students be able to deal with the pressures and freedoms of life on campus?
  • Will the student be able to contribute to both Harvard and their classmates? Will they benefit from their Harvard experience?
  • Will other students want to room with them, share a meal, be in a seminar together, be teammates on a sports team, or collaborate in an extracurricular activity?

What is the timeline for transfer applicants at Harvard?

Just like when high school students are applying to Harvard, transfer applicants also need to be very aware of the important dates that apply to the transfer application process. Overall, Harvard does not accept students for this frank semester and only accepts transfer students into the fall semester. The transfer application becomes available during the fall of the academic year.

The deadline for all transfer applications and financial aid materials is March 1st. After that, the Transfer Admissions Committee begins the process of reviewing applications following the application deadline. Each year, the students who have applied will be notified of the admissions decisions by the middle of the month of Many.

It is important to keep in mind that submitting your materials early does not increase your chances of admission. However, it does give you more time and opportunities to track down any missing documents and make sure that your application is full and complete by the time the school begins their review process. Please note that college or university transcripts should be sent between January and March in order to reflect your most updated academic credentials.

Can students transfer from a community college?

Now that you know the basic information regarding the application process for transfer students, you may be curious about the opportunities that are available to students who are currently studying at community colleges. While it may sound somewhat unlikely that students would be able to transfer from a Community College to a school as prestigious as Harvard, it is actually quite possible.

Two students talking on a table.

If you are a student you’re either currently starting at community college or will likely be at a community college following graduation from high school, the following information for commas is incredibly promising and interesting to you.

As you probably already know, every student who is applying to Harvard from a community college is going to have to be a pretty unique person and have a pretty outstanding transfer application if they really want to try to set themselves apart from the pack.

With that being said, an incredible Harvard transfer application is not just going to be written and sent to Harvard’s transmissions office. An outstanding transfer application is so impressive and helps the applicant get in based on what the student actually did and accomplished while they were at community college. While grades and test scores are of course important, what perhaps matters most is the applicant’s ability to prove that they have managed to be an impactful, productive and incredibly positive member of their community while at community college.

If you are curious about the ways in which high community college students can beat the odds and go from a community college to Harvard, then simply consider reading!

You have to be a top student at your community college

This can probably go without saying, but we will quickly go over it anyways. If you want to have a chance of getting into community college from a community college, you are going to be – arguably- the very best student at your entire community college.

Remember, transferring from community college to Harvard is not like trying to apply to Harvard straight out of high school. What that means is that you are not going to only be compared to other students who are applying to Harvard from specifically community colleges.

Instead, you are going to be competing against students who are applying from other four-year institutions as well. In fact, many of the students who apply to Harvard as transfer students are doing so while already studying at similarly prestigious schools.

Beyond that, the amount of students who are accepted each year as transfer students at Harvard is far less than the earth that are accepted straight out of high school, as you know.

In summary, any student that is interested in transferring from a Community College to Harvard needs to keep in mind but the level of competition is profound. You may not only have to be one of the top students at your community college, but also one of the top students at old community colleges across the entire United States.

Think about retaking the SAT or ACT

One factor that could certainly help your chances of getting into however as a student from a community college is to retake your standardized tests. Remember, the average score of the S80 of students that get into Harvard is 1520 out of 1600.

Similarly, the average ACT score for students that get into Harvard is 34 out of 36. If you did not already earn a score that is either at or above that level you will want to seriously consider retaking either the SAT or the ACT.

Checking for typographical errors in an essay.

Not only will improving your score improve your chances of getting in, but also the mere fact that you are trying to take it again will show the admissions officers at Harvard just how serious you are about trying to transfer there. This kind of persistence and commitment is seen as a major positive in the eyes of Ivy League schools because the workload and the pressure that comes with being students at that school is quite high. Admissions officers would love to see but after starting Community College you were able to push yourself even harder.

For that reason, even though standardized tests have been made optional due to the COVID-19 pandemic, if you are a Community College student, you should consider it to be basically a requirement as part of your application.

Stand out with incredible application essays

There is no sugarcoating it, as a student from a Community College you are facing an uphill battle. No matter how impressive your GPA and standardized test scores or you may still find it hard to get into Harvard’s transfer. One factor that can help you push your application over the edge is incredible transfer application essays.

Group of students sitting on their desks.

Use your essay as a chance to truly stand out and make it clear just how impressive of a person you are. Truly, without an effective transfer application essay, your entire application it’s simply not going to jump off the page and stick in the memory of the admissions counselor who’s been assigned to your application.

Get more help in coordinating your Harvard University transfer

Getting into Harvard as an impressive high school student is hard enough. Trying to do so as a transfer applicant from a different four-year program or Community College may be even harder. However, if you are a student or truly committed to trying to get into Harvard you hurt yourself to do everything that you can in order to make that dream a reality.

That is where AdmissionSight comes in. As one of the premier college admissions consultant options out there, we make it our priority to help every single student that we work with achieve their college admissions dreams.

We can help students with everything from preparing their high school curriculum, choosing between extracurricular activities, preparing for major exams and standardized tests, and of course actually big inning, crafting, finishing and sending in college applications to some of the best schools in the entire world.

Our numbers speak for themselves, 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into Harvard or a similar Ivy League program. If you are a student who is currently thinking about applying to Harvard University as a transfer student, you owe it to yourself to see if AdmissionSight can help you achieve that lofty goal.




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