What is Harvard looking for? Why this question is a student’s biggest mistake. — The Ivy Institute

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author The Ivy Institute
  • Published July 28, 2023
  • Word count 625

We have all heard that there is no such thing as a bad question. Well, that is not the case with Harvard (or any selective college for that matter).

As you start the journey to Harvard and other top colleges, it's only natural to wonder what it takes to impress these prestigious institutions. However, there's one question that, ironically, leads to an instant denial with near certainty: "What should I do to impress Harvard?" The truth is, there's no magic formula or guaranteed path to follow. In fact, the most successful students each year are those who stay true to themselves, their interests, and embrace a path that is uniquely their own. In this article, we'll uncover why asking this question can be detrimental, and why authenticity and genuineness are the keys to unlocking the doors of top colleges.

As soon as the question of impressing a particular college arises, students often begin to lose their true selves in the application process. They find themselves comparing their achievements, interests, and passions to what they think colleges are seeking. This self-comparison and attempt to mold themselves into an ideal candidate diminishes their authenticity and detracts from their applications. Top colleges, like Harvard, value uniqueness and originality—qualities that can only be nurtured when students embrace their genuine selves.

Let's be real—there is no foolproof method or secret pathway that guarantees acceptance to top colleges. Any attempt to game the system or follow a predetermined set of steps ultimately leads to disappointment. The application process is not a puzzle to solve or a game to win; it's a chance for students to showcase their true character, passions, and accomplishments. Those who spend years trying to fit a predetermined mold often find themselves denied, while the unexpected applicant that is genuine (or even last minute in their applications) triumphs.

Admissions officers are skilled at detecting insincerity and manufactured profiles. What they truly seek are students who have pursued their interests, passions, and unique paths without regard to what they think colleges desire. By staying true to themselves, students stand out from the crowd and present a captivating narrative that resonates with admissions officers. It's the genuine connections, real-world experiences, and unapologetic pursuit of passions that leave a lasting impact.

Every year, we witness unexpected success stories—students who defy expectations and secure admission to top colleges despite not following a prescribed path. These individuals dared to be different, embraced their authentic selves, and pursued their passions wholeheartedly. Their applications exude a sense of purpose, originality, and the unmistakable mark of an uncharted journey. It is their courage to resist the temptations of comparison and game-playing that sets them apart and increases their chances of success.

So, what's the secret to gaining admission to Harvard and other top colleges? It's simple—be yourself. Embrace your interests, passions, and accomplishments with unwavering authenticity. Resist the urge to conform or seek validation through comparison. Instead, focus on nurturing your own unique path and showcasing the qualities that make you who you are. Trust in the power of your individuality and let your true self shine through in every aspect of your application.

The journey to Harvard and top colleges is not about trying to impress or mold yourself into what you think they want. It's about discovering and embracing your authentic self. Remember, there's no magic formula or guaranteed path to follow. Authenticity, originality, and a genuine pursuit of passions are the keys that unlock the doors of success. Embrace your uniqueness, stay true to yourself, and let your application reflect the remarkable person you have become. When you walk your own path, unexpected doors may open, and the college of your dreams might just welcome you with open arms.

College admission consultant at The Ivy Institute https://www.theivyinst.org

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