Helpful Harvard College Essay Tips

The Harvard supplement is optional, which is one of the reasons for their very, very low acceptance rate. Plenty of unqualified kids think, “Hey. No essay? I’ll throw my hat in.” If you’re serious about applying and your scores and GPA fall into Harvard’s range, then write the essay.  

Which Option to Choose  

The Harvard supplement provides you with several options you can write about. They also give you the option to write about whatever you want. The biggest tip we can provide is to write a second Common App essay.

In case you haven’t been following our blog, the first thing to keep in mind is that the application is about portraying a holistic view of who you are. Each component, from your course history, to your resume, to your essays, should demonstrate a different set of characteristics and personality traits. Nothing should be redundant. You’re not one dimensional. Pick a trait you didn’t highlight in your first Common App essay and demonstrate it through a new story.

How to Get Started

Make a list of adjectives that describe you. If you’re unsure, text your three best friends and ask them what adjectives they would use to describe you. Pick one of those characteristics. Now, choose a story that demonstrates that part of your personality. NOTE: DO NOT talk about extra-curriculars or awards. That stuff is already on your resume. Remember, only new information!

The Little Things

In terms of the content and tone of your story, it should be light. The story shouldn’t be about a tragedy you experienced or a significant existential moment in your life. While those moments and revelations are important, they can be hard to relate to for a reader who doesn’t know you. They can also make the reader feel sad. Instead, your goal should be to humanize yourself and connect with the admissions committee. We find that the best essays that we’ve sent to Harvard actually make people laugh.  

Your story should be about something minor. A simple story about cooking is just fine. So is a recounting about a part of your daily routine.


Need help identifying a great story to share with the admissions committee? Reach out to us. We are experts at helping kids craft great essays.