What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Harvard Receives Record Applications for the 2018-2019 Cycle

For the fifth year in a row, Harvard College has received a record number of applicants for its incoming freshman class.


Harvard announced recently that it received 43,330 applicants for the class of 2023, marking an increase of 1.3% from the previous year. During the 2017-2018 cycle, the college received 42,749 applications; it was their first year breaking 40,000 . Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons attributed last year’s increase in applicants to the college’s generous financial aid program. He noted that affordability was becoming increasingly important to applicants, with over 75% applying for financial aid and nearly 30% requesting an application fee waiver.


In addition to receiving higher numbers of applicants as a whole, applications from diverse groups also marked record numbers. The number of Latinx applicants to the Class of 2023 increased by 3.4% from last year, the number of Asian American applicants increased by 5.1%, and the number of African American applicants increased by 1.1%. First-generation college applicants grew by 13.8% from last year, and applicants from certain geographical areas also went up, especially from the south.


With this pattern well-established, there’s little doubt that Harvard will receive more and more applicants in years to come. To learn what this means for future potential Harvard students, keep reading.


What Does This Mean for Your Student’s Chances?


As the number of applicants to Harvard College continues to climb, the acceptance rate at Harvard shrinks. Applicants to the class of 2022 were accepted at a rate of just 4.59%, a record low.


Because admissions at Harvard is so competitive, even students with perfect test scores and a stellar extracurricular profile are not shoo-ins.  When applying, students should have realistic expectations about the odds of getting in. In fact, at Collegevine, we recommend that all applicants consider Harvard a reach school, no matter how strong their profile. Creating a balanced college list with a variety of schools is especially important when applying to elite universities like Harvard. For more tips about creating a college list, read our posts The College List, Decoded: Safety, Target, and Reach Schools and What Makes a Good College List?


With acceptance rates on the decline, applicants to Harvard need to be increasingly impressive to earn a coveted spot in the incoming class. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to earning a Harvard acceptance. At CollegeVine, however, we have a unique understanding of the admissions process, based on our experiences guiding thousands of students to elite college acceptances. To learn more about getting in, check out our post What Does it Really Take to Get Into Harvard?, written by a Harvard alumna.


What Does Harvard Look For?


Many students think that perfect test scores or a stellar GPA guarantee a Harvard acceptance, but this is definitely no longer the case. In fact, it’s often said that Harvard receives enough applicants with perfect SAT scores that they could fill their entire freshman class. As such, strong academics are not the only necessary component of a successful Harvard applicant’s profile. Instead, the admissions committee practices a holistic admissions process, weighing extracurricular activities, essays, recommendations, interviews, and personal qualities.


One quality that Harvard looks for specifically is your student’s potential for growth. This is partly evidenced by a successful academic record that shows positive grade trends and a willingness to take on challenges. In addition, admissions officers want to see students who create opportunities and take initiative.


That being said, academics are definitely important when it comes to Harvard admissions. The middle 50th percentile of accepted students scored between 1460-1590 on the SAT. On the ACT, the middle 50 percent fell between 32-35. In addition, 95% of applicants were in the top 10% of their graduating class and 93% had a GPA of 3.75 or above.


Finally, your teen’s essay for their Harvard application needs to stand out. They’ll need to use a voice that is uniquely theirs to highlight something unusual, or discuss something in a new or interesting way. To learn more about the Harvard supplemental essays, check out our annual feature, How to Write the Harvard University Supplemental Essays 2018-2019, which we update each admissions cycle.


How to Understand and Increase Your Chances


The admissions committee at Harvard fully admits that they receive applications from far more qualified candidates than they are able to accept. This means that it is often little details that make an accepted student stand out from the rest of the applicant pool. Learning exactly how to set oneself apart can be a daunting task, but luckily your high schooler doesn’t have to do it alone.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


For more information about admissions to the Ivy League, check out these CollegeVine blog posts:


Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.