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How to Write the Perfect Harvard Essay: 3 Expert Tips

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Sep 28, 2018 12:00:00 PM

College Essays, College Info

 

feature_harvard_campus

Aiming for the world-renowned Harvard University? As part of the application to this prestigious Ivy League school, you'll have the option to submit a supplemental essay. But what should you write about for your Harvard essay? What are the different Harvard essay prompts to choose from, and how should you answer one so you can give yourself your best shot at getting in?

In this guide, we give you advice for each Harvard essay prompt as well as tips on whether you should choose a particular prompt. But before we look at the prompts, let’s go over what Harvard actually requires in terms of essays.

Feature Image: Gregor Smith/Flickr

 

What Essays Do You Need to Submit to Harvard?

Those applying for admission to Harvard must submit an application through either the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application (UCA)For your Harvard application, you’ll need to write a personal essay in response to one of the prompts provided by the Common App, Coalition App, or UCA (depending on the system you’re applying through).

This essay is required for all applicants and should typically be about 500-550 words long (and must be less than 650 words). To learn more about this essay, check out the current prompts for the Common App, Coalition App, and UCA on their official websites.

In addition to this required essay, you have the option of submitting another essay as part of the Harvard supplement. The Harvard supplement essay, as it’s known, is completely optionalyou may, but do not need to, write this essay and submit it with your application. This essay also has no word limit, though if you do write it, it’s best to stick to a typical college essay length (i.e., somewhere around 500 words).

Harvard advises applicants to submit this supplemental essay "if [they] feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about [themselves] or [their] accomplishments."

Options for essay topics are very open ended, and you have a total of 10 topics from which you can choose (11 if you include the fact that you may also "write on a topic of your choice").

Here are the 2018-19 Harvard supplement essay prompts:

You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:

  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities
  • What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
  • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
  • How you hope to use your college education
  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
  • The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
  • Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?
  • Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

As you can see, some of these topics are more specific and focused, while others are more broad and open ended. When it comes down to it, though, should you write the Harvard supplement essay, or skip it altogether?

 

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Should You Do the Harvard Supplement Essay?

You’re already required to submit a personal essay for your Harvard application—so do you really need to submit an extra essay? In reality, opinions are mixed on whether you should write the Harvard supplement essay or not.

While some people are under the impression that this essay is basically mandatory and that your chances of getting into Harvard without it are slim, others believe that submitting it (especially if you don’t have anything particularly impressive or interesting to write about) is simply a waste of time.

So which is it? In general, if you have the opportunity to submit something that you think will only strengthen your college application, definitely do it. By doing this essay, you'll add more flavor to your application and showcase a different side of your personality.

Indeed, in his review of his successful Harvard application, PrepScholar co-founder and Harvard alum Allen Cheng strongly recommends writing this extra essay. He also notes that it’s likely that most Harvard applicants do, in fact, submit the supplemental essay (as he himself did).

Once again, however, this essay is not required for admission to Harvard. Whether you submit a Harvard supplement essay is entirely up to you—though I highly recommend doing it!

If you’re really struggling to decide whether to do the extra Harvard essay or not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself a strong writer? Are there people you trust who could edit and proofread your essay for you?
  • Do you feel that you didn’t get to write about something you really wanted to for the required essay?
  • Is there something you believe the admissions committee should know about you that you haven’t gotten a chance to write about yet?
  • Do you have enough time to dedicate to writing and polishing another essay?
  • Do you think your overall Harvard application is too one-sided or too focused on one aspect of your personality and/or interests? Could your application benefit from more diversity and balance?

Hopefully, by answering these questions, you'll start to have a clearer idea as to whether you will write the Harvard supplement essay or not.

 

body_type_typewriterNo need to write the essay on a typewriterunless you're applying to Harvard 40 years ago.

 

How to Write the Harvard Essay: Every Prompt Analyzed

In this section, we go through the 10 possible Harvard supplement essay prompts and offer you tips on how to write an effective, powerful essay, regardless of which prompt you choose.

 

Prompt 1: Unusual Circumstances

Unusual circumstances in your life

This essay prompt is all about highlighting an unusual situation or event in your life and what kind of impact it ultimately had on you. Harvard asks for this in case applicants want to discuss anything significant that has happened to them and has had a major influence on their academic accomplishments, future goals, perspectives, etc.

This is also an opportunity for applicants to discuss any major struggles they have had (that most students their age haven’t had) and the personal effects these experiences have had on their lives.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you grew up with an uncommon lifestyle or had an uncommon experience that you believe had a strong effect on you, this is a good prompt to choose for your essay. For example, perhaps you grew up speaking four languages fluently, or you were the youngest of fourteen children.

This is also an ideal prompt to choose if you want to provide more background information for a weak point in your application. For instance, say you contracted a serious illness during your sophomore year, and your many absences caused your GPA to drop. You could then write about how you approached this problem head-on, and how working with a tutor every day after school to raise your GPA ultimately revealed to you an inner strength you never knew you had.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose an experience or situation that is actually uncommon. This doesn’t mean that no one else in the world could have it, but try to focus on something that’s unique and has had a big impact on your personal growth. As an example, although many teenagers were raised by a single parent, only you grew up with your parent, so concentrate on how this person as well as the overall situation helped to shape your personality and goals.
  • If you’re writing about something that was challenging for you, don’t just conclude that the experience was difficult. What specifically have you learned or taken away from it? Why is it important for the Harvard admissions committee to know this? For instance, say you had to move six times in just two years. You could write that although it was difficult adjusting to a new school each time you moved, you eventually started to enjoy meeting people and getting to explore new places. As a result of these experiences, you now have a lot more confidence when it comes to adapting to unfamiliar situations.

 

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Prompt 2: Travel, Living, or Work Experiences

Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities

This prompt is asking you to discuss experiences you've had that involved traveling, living, and/or working in a specific community (either your own or another) and what kind of effect that experience has had on you.

Here are examples of experiences you could talk about for this essay:

  • Living or traveling abroad
  • Moving to a new place or living in multiple places
  • Working a part-time job
  • Working a temporary job or internship somewhere outside your own community

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you’ve had an experience that fits or mostly fits one of the examples above and it’s had a large impact on how you see and define yourself as a person, this is a solid prompt for you.

On the other hand, do not choose this prompt if you’ve never had a significant experience while traveling or working/living somewhere.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a truly significant experience to talk about. Although your experience doesn’t need to be life-changing, it should have had a noteworthy impact on you and who you’ve become. If, for example, you traveled to Mexico with your family but didn’t really enjoy or learn much from the trip, it’s better to avoid writing about this experience (and might be better to choose a different prompt altogether!).
  • Make sure to talk about how this travel/living/work experience has affected you. For example, say you spent a couple of summers in high school visiting relatives in South Africa. You could write about how these trips helped you develop a stronger sense of independence and self-sufficiencytraits which have made you more assertive, especially when it comes to leading group projects and giving speeches.
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative with this essay. For instance, if you lived in a country where you at first didn’t understand the local language, you could open your Harvard essay with an anecdote, such as a conversation you overheard or a funny miscommunication.

 

body_college_roommates"Dear future roommate: will you please play in the fall leaves with me?" (MjZ Photography/Flickr)

 

Prompt 3: Your Future College Roommate

What you would want your future college roommate to know about you

Unlike some of the other more traditional Harvard essay prompts on this list, this prompt is a little more casual and really lends itself to a creative approach.

For this prompt, you’re writing an essay that’s more of a letter to your future college roommate (remember, however, that it’s actually being read by the Harvard admissions committee!). You'll introduce who you are by going over the key traits and characteristics that make you you—in other words, personality traits, eccentricities, flaws, or strengths that you believe are critical for someone (i.e., Harvard) to know about you.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

This Harvard essay prompt is all about creativity and describing yourselfnot a specific event or circumstanceso it’s well suited for those who are skilled at clearly and creatively expressing themselves through writing.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Focus on your unique attributes. Since you’re describing yourself in this essay, you’ll need to concentrate on introducing the most unique and interesting aspects about yourself (that you also think a roommate would want or need to know). What's your daily routine? Do you have any funny or strange habits or quirks? How did you develop these characteristics?
  • Be true to your voice and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Don’t say that you’re always telling jokes if you’re normally a very serious person. Describe yourself honestly, but don’t feel as though you must tell every little detail about yourself, either.
  • Strike a balance: don’t focus only on the positives or negatives. You want to come across as a strong applicant, but you also want to be realistic and authentic (you're human, after all!). Therefore, try to find balance by writing about not only your strengths and positive attributes but also your quirks and flaws. For instance, you could mention how you always used to run late when meeting up with friends, but how you’ve recently started working on getting better at this by setting an alarm on your iPhone.

 

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Prompt 4: An Intellectual Experience

An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you.

With this prompt, Harvard wants you to focus on an intellectual or learning experience that's had a big impact on you in terms of your personal growth, your academic/intellectual interests and passions, the field of study you want to pursue, etc.

This intellectual experience could be anything that's intellectually stimulating, such as an essay or book you read, a poem you analyzed, or a research project you conducted.

Note that this experience does not need to be limited to something you did for schoolif you’ve done anything in your spare time or for an extracurricular activity that you think fits this prompt, feel free to write about that.

 

Should You Choose This Topic?

This is a good prompt to choose if a certain intellectual experience motivated you or triggered an interest in something you really want to study at Harvard.

For example, you could write about how you found an old copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species at a garage sale, and how reading this prompted you to develop an interest in biology, which you now intend to major in and eventually make a career out of.

This is also an ideal prompt to pick if you want to highlight a particular interest or passion you have that differs from the academic field you want to study in college.

For instance, perhaps you’re applying for admission as a computer science major, but you’re also a huge fan of poetry and often take part in local poetry readings. Writing about a poem you recently read and analyzed could illuminate to the admissions committees a different, less prominent side of your personality and intellectual interests, ultimately showing that you’re open minded and invested in gaining both new skills and experiences.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose an experience that had a significant impact on you. Don’t talk about how reading Romeo and Juliet in eighth grade made you realize how much you enjoyed writing plays if you were already writing plays way before then! If you can’t think of any memorable intellectual experience to write about, then it's best to opt for a different prompt.
  • Be specific about the intellectual experience you had and clearly relate it back to your strengths and interests. In other words, what kind of impact did this experience have on you? Your academic goals? Your future plans? For example, instead of writing about how a scientific paper on climate change made you think more deeply about the environment, you could talk about how this paper prompted you to form a recycling program at your school, take a class on marine biology, and so forth.

 

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Prompt 5: Your Future Goals

How you hope to use your college education

This Harvard essay prompt is pretty self-explanatory: it wants you to discuss how you intend to use your education at Harvard after you graduateso in a future job or career, in grad school, in a particular research field, etc.

Basically, how will your college education help you achieve your future goals (whatever those may be)?

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you have a pretty clear vision for your future goals during and after college, this is a perfect prompt to choose for your Harvard essay.

If, on the other hand, you’re still undecided about the field(s) you want to study or how you intend to use your major, you might want to choose a different prompt that's less focused on your future and more concentrated on how past events and experiences have shaped you as a person.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Be careful when talking about your future goals. You don’t want to come off too idealistic, but you also don’t want to sound too broad or you’ll come across unfocused and ambivalent. Try to strike a balance in how you discuss your future dreams so that they’re both attainable and specific.
  • Clearly connect your goals back to your current self and what you’ve accomplished up until this point. You want to make it clear that your goals are actually attainable, specifically with a Harvard education. If you say you hope to start your own interior design business after graduation but are planning to major in biology, you’re only going to confuse the admissions committee!
  • Emphasize any ways Harvard specifically will help you attain your academic goals. For example, is there a club you hope to join that could connect you with other students? Or is there a particular professor you want to work with? Don’t just throw in names of clubs and people but specifically explain how these resources will help you reach your goals. In short, show Harvard that what they can offer you is exactly what you need to succeed.

 

body_student_pile_of_books-1Books: the least stable form of reading chair.

 

Prompt 6: List of Books

A list of books you have read during the past twelve months

Of all Harvard essay prompts, this one is by far the most unique.

Here, you're asked to simply list the books you’ve read in the past year. This essay is more than just a list, thoughit’s a brief overview of where your intellectual interests lie. These books may include works of fiction or nonfiction, essays, collections of poetry, etc.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

Have you read a lot of diverse and interesting books in the past year? Are you an avid reader who loves dissecting books and essays? Do you enjoy a creative approach to college essays? If you answered yes to these questions, then this prompt is a perfect fit for you.

Even if you haven’t read a ton of books this past year, if you were especially intrigued by some or all of what you did read, you could certainly use this prompt for your essay.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Instead of just listing the titles of books you’ve read, you might want to include a short sentence or two commenting on your reaction to the book, your analysis of it, why you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy it, etc., after each title. Be sure to vary up your comments so that you’re highlighting different aspects of your personality. Also, don’t just regurgitate analyses you’ve read online or that your teacher has saidtry to come up with your own thoughts and interpretations.
  • Don’t feel the need to stick to only the most "impressive" books you read. The Harvard admissions committee wants to see your personality, not that of a pretentious applicant who claims to have only read Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway. Be honest: if you read Twilight in a day, why not make a short joke about how addictive it was?
  • Go beyond a chronological list of books. It’ll be far more interesting if you list the books you read in a more unique way. For example, you could organize titles by theme or in the order of how much you enjoyed them.

 

body_right_wrongNot everything is black and white. This sign, for example, is black and yellow.

 

Prompt 7: Honesty

The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.

As you can see with this quotation, Harvard strongly values honesty and integrity. Therefore, if you go with this prompt, you’re essentially telling Harvard that you, too, embody a powerful sense of morality and honesty.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

Here are some questions to think about to help you determine whether you should choose this Harvard essay prompt:
  • Was there a specific time in your life when you had to make a difficult choice to be honest about something with someone?
  • Could this incident be considered morally ambiguous? In other words, was the "right thing to do" somewhat of a gray area?
  • If you didn't make the "right" choice at the time, how did you come to terms with or learn from this decision? What were the consequences, and what did this experience teach you about your own morals and how you value honesty?

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Be wary of the topic you choose to write about. Don’t discuss a situation in which you did something obviously unethical or, worse, illegal. These types of situations are very black and white and therefore don’t pose much of a moral dilemma. Additionally, talking about such an experience might make you seem dishonest and immoral, which you absolutely do not want Harvard to think about you!
  • Try to find a topic that isn’t black and white. Choosing "gray" incidents will help emphasize why the choice was so difficult for you and also why it's affected you in this way. For example, say your friend calls you crying right before you have to leave to take the SAT. Do you skip the test to comfort your friend, or do you hang up and leave? This kind of situation does not have an evident "right" answer, making it an ideal one to use for this essay.
  • You could also discuss a time when you did not make the "right" choiceand what you learned from that mistake. As long as you look closely at why you made the "wrong" choice and what this incident taught you about integrity, your essay will be interesting and relevant.

 

body_chess_queen_knightKnight: "Your Majesty, we've lost the king!" Queen: "Pfft, so what? I can lead just fine without him!"

 

Prompt 8: Citizens and Citizen-Leaders

The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?

This prompt might sound a little vague, but all it wants to know is how you'll have a positive impact on both your classmates and on other people after graduation. Put simply, what kind of leader/citizen will you be at Harvard? After you graduate from college and enter the real world?

This prompt is similar to Prompt 5 in that it wants to know what kind of person you'll become after you leave college and how you'll positively influence society.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you’re a natural-born leader and have had at least a few significant experiences with leading or facilitating things such as club activities, field trips, volunteer efforts, and so on, then this Harvard essay prompt would be a great fit for you.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Focus on a time when you led others and it resulted in a positive outcome. For instance, you could write about your position as team captain on your school’s soccer team and how you would gather your teammates before each game to offer words of encouragement and advice on how to improve. You could then describe how your team began to perform better in games due to clearer communication and a stronger sense of sportsmanship. Make sure to answer the critical question: how did you lead and what ultimately made your leadership style successful?
  • Discuss what kind of role your leadership skills will have at both Harvard and after you graduate. The prompt is asking about your classmates, so you must specifically address how your leadership skills will contribute to the lives of your peers. How will your past experiences with leading help you approach group projects, for example? Or clubs you join?
  • Make sure to mention how you'll be a good citizen, too. By "citizen," Harvard essentially means a productive member of both the school and society in general. Basically, how have you contributed to the betterment of society? This is a good place to talk about experiences in which you played a crucial supporting role; for instance, maybe you helped out with a local volunteer initiative to feed the homeless, or maybe you joined a community project to build a new park in your town.

 

body_road_travelSometimes you need a little time away from school to find your way.

 

Prompt 9: Taking Time Off

Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?

Here, you’re being asked what you plan to do with your time if you decide to defer your admission to Harvard or take time off during college. For example, will you travel the world? Work a full-time job? Do an internship? Take care of a sick relative?

Obviously, Harvard doesn’t want to read that all you’re going to do is relax and play video games all day, so make sure to think carefully about what your actual plans are and, more importantly, how these plans will benefit you as a person and as a student.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

Only choose this Harvard essay prompt if you’re pretty certain you’ll be taking time off from college at some point (either before or during) and you have a relatively concrete idea of what you want to do during that time.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Be specific and honest about your plans. While many students like to take time off to travel the world, you don't just want to write, "I plan to backpack Europe and learn about cultures." Think critically about your desires: why do you want to do this and how will this experience help you grow as a person? Don’t just reiterate what you think Harvard wants to hearbe transparent about why you feel you need this time off from school to accomplish this goal.
  • Be clear about why you must do this at this particular time. In other words, why do you think this (i.e., before or during college) is the right time to do whatever it is you plan to do? Is it something you can (or must) do at this exact time, such as a one-time internship that won’t be offered again?

 

body_yellow_umbrellaUse your essay to stand apart from other Harvard applicants. Or you could just grab a magical yellow umbrella and float away. Your call.

 

Prompt 10: Diversity

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

This final Harvard essay prompt is all about what you can bring to campus that will positively contribute to student diversity. Though we tend to think of race/ethnicity when using the word "diversity," you can actually interpret this word in a number of ways.

As a large and prestigious institution, Harvard strongly values students who have different and unique backgrounds and experiences, so it’s important for them to admit students who embody these values as well.

This prompt is essentially a version of the diversity essay, which we talk about in more detail in our guide.

 

Should You Choose This Prompt?

The main question to ask yourself before choosing this prompt is this: do you have a unique background or interest you can write about?

Here are some key types of diversity you can discuss (note that this is not an exhaustive list!):

  • Your ethnicity or race
  • A unique interest, passion, hobby, or skill you have
  • Your family or socioeconomic background
  • Your religion
  • Your cultural group
  • Your sex or gender/gender identity
  • Your opinions or values
  • Your sexual orientation

If any of these topics stand out to you and you can easily come up with a specific characteristic or experience to discuss for your essay, then this a solid prompt to consider answering.

 

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a personal characteristic that’s had a large impact on your identity. Don’t talk about your family’s religion if it's had little or no impact on how you see and define yourself. Instead, concentrate on the most significant experiences or skills in your life. If you play the theremin every day and have a passion for music because of it, this would be a great skill to write about in your essay.
  • Be clear about how your unique characteristic has affected your life and growth. You don’t just want to introduce the experience/skill and leave it at that. How has it molded you into the person you are today? How has it influenced your ambitions and goals?
  • Be sure to tie this characteristic back to the diversity at Harvard. Basically, how will your experience/skill/trait positively influence the Harvard student body? For example, if you come from a specific cultural group, how do you believe this will positively impact other students?

 


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A Real Harvard Essay Example

Our resident full SAT/ACT scorer and co-founder of PrepScholar, Allen Cheng, applied to, got into, and attended Harvardand he’s posted his own Harvard supplement essay for you to look at. You can read all about Allen’s essay in his analysis of his successful Harvard application.

Allen describes his essay as "probably neutral to [his Harvard] application, not a strong net positive or net negative," so it’s important to note that this Harvard essay example is not representative of exactly what you should do in your own Harvard supplement essay. Rather, we’re showing it to you to give you a taste of how you could approach the Harvard essay and to demonstrate the kinds of simple mistakes you should avoid.

 

body_typing_computer_essay

 

Writing a Memorable Harvard Essay: 3 Tips

To wrap up, here are three tips to keep in mind as you write your Harvard supplement essay.

 

#1: Use an Authentic Voice

Having a clear, unique, and authentic voice is the key to making yourself stand apart from other applicants in your Harvard applicationand to ensuring you’re leaving a long-lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Therefore, write your essay in the way that comes most naturally to you, and talk about the things that actually matter to you. For example, if you love puns, throwing one or two puns into your essay will emphasize your goofier, non-academic side.

Using your voice here is important because it humanizes your application. The essay is the only chance you get to show the admissions committee who you are and what you actually sound like, so don’t pretend to be someone you’re not!

The only thing to look out for is using too much slang or sounding too casual. In the end, this is still a college essay, so you don’t want to come off sounding rude, disrespectful, or immature.

In addition, don’t exaggerate any experiences or emotions. The Harvard admissions committee is pretty good at their jobthey read thousands of applications each year!so they’ll definitely be able to tell if you’re making a bigger deal out of something than you should be. Skip the hyperbole and stick to what you know. 

Ultimately, your goal should be to strike a balance so that you’re being true to yourself while also showcasing your intelligence and talents.

 

#2: Get Creative

Harvard is one of the most difficult schools to get into (it only has a 5% acceptance rate!), so you'll need to make sure your essay is really, really attention-grabbing. In short, get creative with it!

As you write your personal essay, recall the classic saying: show, don’t tell. This means that you should rely more on description and imagery than on explanation.

For example, instead of writing, "I became more confident after participating in the debate club," you might write, "The next time I went onstage for a debate, my shoulders didn’t shake as much; my lips didn’t quiver; and my heart only beat 100 times instead of 120 times per minute."

Remember that your essay is a story about yourself, so make sure it’s interesting to read and will ultimately be memorable to your readers.

 

#3: Edit and Proofread a Lot

My final tip is to polish your essay by editing and proofreading it a lot. This means you should look it over not once, not twice, but several times.

Here’s the trick to editing it: once you’ve got a rough draft of your essay finished, put it away for a few days or a week or two. Don’t look at it all during this timeyou want to give yourself some distance so that you can look at your essay later with a fresh perspective.

After you've waited, read over your essay again, noting any mistakes in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation. Take care to also note any awkward wording, unclear areas, or irrelevant ideas. Ask yourself: is there anything you should add? Delete? Expand?

Once you’ve done this step several times and have a (nearly) final draft ready to turn in, give your essay to someone you can trust, such as a teacher, parent, or mentor. Have them look it over and offer feedback on tone, voice, theme, style, etc. In addition, make sure that they check for any glaring grammatical or technical errors.

Once all of this is done, you'll have a well-written, polished Harvard essay ready to goone that’ll hopefully get you accepted!

 

What’s Next?

If you've got questions about other parts of the Harvard application, check out our top guide to learn what you'll need to submit to get into the prestigious Ivy League school.

How tough is it to get into Harvard? To other selective universities? For answers, read our expert guide on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League, written by an actual Harvard alum!

What's the average SAT score of admitted Harvard applicants? The average ACT score? The average GPA? Learn all this and more by visiting our Harvard admissions requirements page.

 


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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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