Why Choose Harvard University Among Ivy League Schools?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A building inside the Harvard campus where legacy admission is still being practiced

Why Choose Harvard University Among Ivy League Schools?

Choosing the right college can be a daunting and confusing process. There are nearly thousands of colleges from which to choose and each seems just as good as the next. Even if you’re looking at the creme de la creme of universities, such as the Ivy League, the confusion doesn’t subside. If you’ve ever considered attending Harvard, you might be rightfully wondering “Why Harvard?” Why Choose Harvard University Among Ivy League Schools? or go to Havard University over other Ivy League options? It’s a perfectly valid question that deserves a well-thought-out response. Fortunately, there is also no shortage of great answers to this excellent question.

However, before we get into the specifics, it’s a good idea to set the scene for the Ivy League in general. Many students and parents wrongly assume that since all of these eight colleges are grouped together as the best universities in the country that their offerings must be similar.

View of Harvard building surrounded by trees.

In other words, there’s an assumption that an Ivy League education at Yale is the same as an Ivy League education at Harvard. While both are excellent schools, there are some key differences between each. It’s only when these unique characteristics of each are understood that students can make the best decision about where they should attend.

So, again, why Harvard? Well, it really depends on what your goals are academically and professionally. Furthermore, it depends on your personal interests and preferences. Harvard University is an amazing school with great academic offerings and endless opportunities for students to succeed. At the end of the day, your decision hinges on what kind of school you want to attend.

At AdmissionSight, we’re familiar with what makes each Ivy League school great. To help you make the best decision possible, we’re going to answer the question “Why go to Harvard University over other schools?” We’ll explain why would someone choose Harvard University over other top universities?

5 reasons to choose Harvard University over other top schools

Here are the top reasons you should consider attending Harvard University.

1. It’s the oldest institute of higher learning in the country.

Although all Ivy League universities are known for their long histories and rich traditions, Harvard takes the crown as the oldest university among this group of prestigious schools. It was founded in 1636 before the United States of American even became a country.

Male students holding his books while smiling at the camera.

The next oldest, Yale University, wasn’t even founded until 1701. However, the accolades don’t stop there. Harvard University is actually the oldest university in the entire country. When you’re walking through the halls of this college and through its quads, you’re quite literally walking in a living museum.

Being the oldest university in the country is impressive but does it really answer the question “Why go to Harvard University?”. Well, it’s not so much the age that’s a good reason for attending but the implications of this tradition.

Think about it for a second. A university that’s been able to maintain the highest level of quality for students through world-class offerings, top-rated teachers, and excellent resources through hundreds of years is definitely impressive. All of this time has been passing is a litmus test that Harvard always exceeds. And it shows no sign of slowing down.

2. Harvard has a reputation as the best university in the world.

Ivy League schools are widely regarded as some of the top institutions for higher learning in the country and in the world, and rightfully so. However, Harvard has always been in a league of its own, often regarded as the best of the best when looked at within the context of the Ivy League.

a student writing on her notebook and looking at the camera

Given the prestige of this group, this leads many people to consider Harvard as the very best university in the country and the world at large. While there is always some subjectivity to this statement, the mystique and reputation surrounding the university have an objective impact. After graduating from Harvard University, you’ll always carry this title with you.

Whether you’re vying for an internship right out of school, applying for a new job, trying to get a promotion, or reaching for any other form of professional development, the sheer fact of having a degree from Harvard will unlock more doors for yourself than you could possibly imagine. At the end of the day, one of the reasons to love Harvard is because everyone sees it as one of the best schools in the world (which it is!) and, as a result, see all graduates as highly capable, professional, skilled, and hard-working (which they are!).

3. Harvard is located in the ideal spot.

While Harvard’s academic offerings and prestige are certainly the foundational aspects of what makes this Ivy League a choice over other institutions, the justifications don’t stop there. Harvard’s prime location is another, more practical reason to attend. Its campus has the best of both worlds by being close enough to Boston, Massachusetts, while also having a smaller town of Cambridge nearby.

This way, students can have the accessibility and excitement of city life when they want it and the solitude and calm of town life when they need it. Students should consider this component as not all of their time will be spent on campus or inside classrooms.

If you’re somewhat familiar with other Ivy League schools and their campus location, you might be thinking to yourself: “Well, there are plenty of other schools with locations near big cities.” While you’re definitely right about that, these schools are in the cities while Harvard is near the city.

Harvard University’s campus is technically located in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, but it’s connected with the Boston subway system, making it a quick and easy commute. On the other hand, UPenn and Columbia are both located in the heart of Philadelphia and NYC, respectively.

4. Harvard receives the largest endowment out of any other university.

As you’ve probably noticed by now, Harvard University is the school of superlatives. It’s the oldest school in the country, the most popular school among Ivy League universities, and currently has the largest endowment when compared to other schools.

a group of high school students taking an exam

While this doesn’t necessarily have to end up benefiting students, it does at Harvard University. Despite its esteemed reputation and long history of providing world-class offerings, this university isn’t content with resting on its laurels. It’s always looking to improve and provide more to its students. This endowment is proof of that commitment and its fuel.

Another critical advantage of having this capital at hand is the way it helps students and families afford Harvard University. There’s no hiding the fact that Ivy League colleges are expensive. And, for many families, the tuition rates are simply more than they can afford. With its large endowment, Harvard is able to admit students regardless of their financial standing. The university is more than willing and capable of ensuring financial aid is provided to the eligible students who need it.

5. Harvard has unrivaled academic offerings and resources for students.

While you might’ve already been able to put these puzzle pieces together (i.e. long history, large endowment, Ivy League school, esteemed reputation, etc.) it’s still worth mentioning that Harvard University has some of the best academic offerings in the country.

From world-class classes to top-tier professors to endless resources and educational opportunities, Harvard has endless possibilities for students who want to make the most out of it. If you’re ever wondering “Why go to Harvard University over other schools?”, these unrivaled academic offerings are a good enough reason on their own.

So, what do these awesome academic offerings look like? Well, there’s not enough space to go into depth here, but we’ll cover some highlights. For first-year students, the Freshmen Seminars are of particular interest.

These seminars are an excellent opportunity for freshmen to work with actual professors directly instead of just with graduate students. In addition, Harvard has a massive number of Degree-Granting Programs, more commonly known as honors majors. Another random stat that speaks to Harvard University’s rich offerings is that it has one of the largest university libraries in the country.

How do you know that Harvard University is right for you?

Even if you can answer “Why would someone choose Harvard University over other top universities?”, that doesn’t mean you necessarily know why you would choose it over other Ivy League schools.

While there are certainly some objective characteristics of a college that make it superior to others, that doesn’t mean that other subjective aspects shouldn’t sway your decision. After all, you’re the one who will be attending the college.

a college student standing in the middle of a hallway and looking at the camera

No matter how good the university looks on paper, if it doesn’t line up with your personal interests, goals, and strengths, then it’s not a good match. The reasons to love Harvard should only be taken into consideration for your personal case if you actually find them enticing.

The best way to know if Harvard University is right for you is to compare its offerings with your academic goals. If you see some synchronicity, then it might be worth considering. However, if you don’t see any similarities, then all of Harvard’s accolades won’t make a difference for you.

What else you need to know before choosing Harvard University

Now that you’re familiar with the top reasons you should consider attending Harvard University, let’s explore some common questions applicants have about this esteemed Ivy League school.

What is Harvard University known for?

Harvard University is known for being the oldest university in the United States and the most popular Ivy League school. It’s also known for its world-class offerings and resources.

What is the Harvard University student population like?

Harvard University is one of the larger Ivy League schools with over 20,000 students, although this number fluctuates each year. The student body at Harvard is known for being hard-working, highly intelligent, intellectually curious, and very warm and inviting.

What is Harvard University ranking among other schools?

Currently, Harvard University ranks 2nd in the National University Ranking, meaning it’s regarded as the second-best institution of higher learning in the country, just behind Princeton. When compared with the other Ivy League schools, Harvard University still holds the second-place title, making it one of the highest-ranked schools.  7th among all Ivy League schools. It’s ahead of Cornell University and below the other six Ivies.

What are the worst things about Harvard University?

The worst thing about Harvard University is its low acceptance rate. It’s a tough reality that applicants must deal with. Since tens of thousands of students apply to Harvard each year with a limited number of positions available, the school has to be highly selective. This makes for a challenging admissions process that students often dread. That’s why it’s important to work with a reputable college admissions counselor.

Is Harvard University fun?

Although Harvard University is famous for its world-class academic offerings, rigorous curriculum, and intellectually-curious student body, it’s still a fun university. When you’re not spending time in class, you’ll have an endless number of opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities or intramural sports.

There are hundreds of student clubs and, if any don’t meet your needs, you can easily set one up on your own. When it comes to “college towns”, Cambridge is a quintessential example. It’s got everything you could want. If you need something a little more exciting, Boston is no more than a short subway ride away.

Is Harvard University a good school?

Harvard is not only a good school it is one of the best school’s in the world. In fact, some people even see Harvard as the very best university available. As we discussed earlier, it’s ranked 2nd in the National University ranking and 2nd out of all Ivy League schools. Although this ranking changes consistently, Harvard University is regularly featured within the top five spots, often appearing at number one.

How hard is Harvard University?

Harvard University’s difficulty is in direct proportion to its academic offerings. With a 4.7% acceptance rate, Harvard is one of the hardest Ivy League schools to get into. Even after you’re accepted though, the difficulty doesn’t stop. Harvard’s courses are known for being challenging.

However, it’s this rigorous education that gives Harvard its reputation as one of the best schools in the country.  Instead of viewing this difficulty as an obstacle or something to bemoan, you should view it as an opportunity to sharpen your academic skills and improve your abilities overall.

What is Harvard University like?

Harvard University is situated in the small city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, its proximity to Boston and its location on the city’s subway line make it easily accessible. Like many other Ivy League schools on the east coast, Harvard’s campus is teeming with historical architecture and stunning green lawns. The median class sizes at Harvard are 12 students, making for a more intimate and personalized learning environment than most colleges can offer.

What is unique about Harvard?

The most unique characteristic about Harvard is its history. Having been founded in the 1600s, this university has developed a tradition that even the next-oldest Ivy League school has a tough time competing with.

To put Harvard’s age into context, it was founded even before the United States of America was founded. That makes it older than the nation itself. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it. Fortunately, Harvard has done a great job of preserving its history on campus.

Need help getting into Harvard University?

You started out your search wondering “why Harvard?” and “why go to Harvard University over other schools?”. Now that you have some objective answers to those pertinent questions, let’s get to the next question: “How do I increase my chances of getting into Harvard?” One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to work with a specialized admissions counselor.

AdmissionSight is one such expert who has been working with students for years to help drastically boost their chances of getting into some of the country’s top schools, including Harvard University.

Whether you need guidance when choosing summer programs, help editing your supplemental essays, support when deciding which high school courses to take, or any other service related to college admissions, AdmissionSight has your back.

All of our offerings are fully personalized to make sure we’re taking your personal interests and goals into account. Why trust us? Well, we have a proven track record of helping students just like you achieve their goal of attending some of the country’s top-rated schools.

Feel free to reach out to AdmissionSight for a free consultation to learn more about what we do.


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