For students all over the world, applying to Harvard can be a big deal. According to the 2017 college rankings released by U.S. News & World Report, around 5 percent of all students who apply for admission to Harvard are accepted as students, making opportunities like the undergraduate admission interview very important. Being called for a Harvard interview can be a confusing and exciting experience, but it is not uncommon for students to wonder what the significance of being asked for an interview is.
Not Every Student Gets an Interview
Keep in mind that not every applicant gets called for an interview in Harvard admissions process. But also keep in mind that being called for an interview does not necessarily mean that you have a greater chance of getting into Harvard than a student in another town who does not get a Harvard interview. On its website, the college notes that "no candidate is at a disadvantage if an interview cannot be arranged." Admissions interviews are held by Harvard alumni, so areas in which where many alumni are based will see more applicants interviewed than places where there are few alumni.
Interviews Don't Mean You're a Shoe-In
Don't make the assumption that many students do--that you are a shoe-in for admission to Harvard just because you have been asked for an interview. While the fact that you are getting an interview does mean that your application is being considered, in view of the small percentage of students who are actually admitted to the school as freshmen, you should keep in mind that interviews are just a step in the process. Your odds of being admitted go down the further you are from matching the Harvard average GPA of incoming students.
Using the Admissions Interview to Your Advantage
Take the time to prepare for your Harvard interview so that you can wow your alumna interviewer. The opportunity to highlight your skills and discuss your qualifications and goals in a face-to-face exchange with a Harvard-connected person should not be taken lightly. Applicants who demonstrate that they possess the qualifications of a successful Harvard student during both a personal interview and the regular application process can't help but improve their chances of gaining an entrance spot.
College Interview Advice
Unless you are instructed otherwise, wear business casual to your interview. However, it is better to be overdressed than under dressed for the occasion. Focus on making a connection with the interviewer instead of worrying about what to say next. The goal of the interviewer is to get to know you on a personal level. Your goal is to communicate what uniquely distinguishes you from other ambitious applicants seeking a spot at Harvard.
Do not give superficial reasons when asked why you applied. Instead of citing rank and reputation or your pushy parents, explain why a Harvard education is so important to your learning and personal growth. Be ready to share interesting information if asked about your hobbies, favorite books or obstacles you’ve overcome. You’ll know the interview is going well if it feels like a naturally flowing conversation.
Use the Interview to Gain More Insight
Use the interview as a chance to gain insight into what to expect from the rest of the admissions process and from the university itself. Remember, your interviewer is somebody who has already gone through the admissions process, been a Harvard student, graduated and begun to live life as a successful alumnus of the esteemed school you seek to attend. Use this opportunity to ask questions about life as a Harvard student and graduate. While the purpose of the interview is to help the alumnus learn more about you as an applicant, you can use it as an opportunity to gain some valuable insight for yourself.
After the Interview
Write a card or note of thanks to the Harvard alumna to thank her for interviewing you--this is not required of her. Then continue to do well and exemplify the academic quality of a Harvard applicant by excelling in school and your community.
Nicole Campbell has been writing professionally since 2005. With an extensive medical background, a nursing degree and interest in medical- and health-related writing as well as experience with various lifestyle topics, she prides herself on her conversational, active voice and ability to relate to the average reader.