El Segundo High School

Who gets into Harvard?

Recently the Harvard class of 2020 began their freshman year. These are the covet students that were part of the record-low 5.2 percent of applicants that were accepted to Harvard this past year.

Since it has been known to be virtually impossible to be accepted into Harvard, inquiring minds wonder just what does it take to be part of the elite 5.2 precent?

Last week the Harvard Crimson reported the statistics of just who does get accepted to Harvard in an article entitled “Meet the Class of 2020.

As most readers assume, it all starts with being smart, really, really, smart; 54 percent of freshmen were ranked in the top 2 percent of their high school’s graduating class. And the average combined SAT score for the class was 2234.6 out of 2400.

That leaves inquiring minds wondering about the othunnameder 46 percent of the rest of the class. From the statistics reported, it appears that being uber-smart part may be a bit variable for the rest of the class.

Ignacio Sabate reported for the Havrard Crimson last week a startling, but not so surprising, statistic. Nearly 16 percent of the Class of 2020 have parents whose combined annual income exceeds $500,000. A correlation of the class rank, GPA, and SAT/ACT scores of that 16 percent are not provided in the survey.

Nearly half of these students whose families earn more than $500,000 annually are legacy students, meaning a parent attended Harvard; while two-thirds of students whose parents’ earn more than $500,000 have had a family member, including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings, and other relatives who have attended the university.

The issue of legacy combined with affluence abounds when it comes to getting into Harvard (and other elite colleges for that matter).  Our source shares the story of Victoria, a private school girl who was suspended for showing up to her elite private school drunk and with drugs on her. Victoria took not a one AP course during high school, but a $10-million donation from her parent (who is an alum) found her accepted this year to Harvard. This story seems to be a prevalent occurrence at Harvard, and across the Ivies.

On the other side of the equation is the 15 percent of the class that have parents whose combined income totals below $40,000. Many of this demographic are first generation students (which Harvard defines as students who are the first generation in their family to attend college). Nearly half of first-generation students come from families with combined incomes below $40,000 per year.  Only 0.6 percent of students whose parent’s combined income is less than $40,000 per year have legacy status.

Thus, over a quarter of the Harvard class of 2020 is filled with the very rich, often legacy student as well as the very less affluent.

Also a phenomenon of late is the 10.3 percent of recruited athletes that get a coveted acceptance letter. The “athlete acceptance” is an article in and of itself to write, but again the correlation of the class rank, GPA, and SAT/ACT scores of the 10.3 percent of athletes are not provided.

Some other interesting statistics include that: 56 percent of the students are white; 27 percent identify as Asian; 13 percent as Hispanic or Latino; 11 percent as Black or African-American; 6 percent as South Asian. And while 85 percent are heterosexual, 5 percent identify as homosexual, and 6 percent as bisexual, and 3 percent questioning their sexual identity.

As college seniors across the country are diligently preparing their college applications, statistics help with the enigma of “who and what do I have to be to get accepted to Harvard.” But, the best advice I have been given is to ignore the statistics and be “authentically me.” The “authentic me” will be accepted to the college that values what I uniquely have to offer.

Best of luck to all of my peers!

Fore the source article survey see:


 For more on the author see: CeceJane.com