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Preparing for College

Building a Path to Academic Success

While there is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, we want to help you make choices that will lead you to a successful college career. 

In this section, you will find information about selecting high school courses that best prepare you for liberal arts colleges with high academic demands, such as Harvard, as well as tips for deciding whether you should take time off before attending college. You may also want to review information about what we look for during the admissions process.

A well-rounded education

A good high school education should do more than prepare you for the next level of education or for later employment—it should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds. You should gain particular skills and information, as well as a broad perspective on the world and its possibilities.

By taking the most academically demanding courses you can find, you can improve both your chance of admission to a selective college and your performance during the first years of college.

In developing the advice in this section, we have relied on empirical evidence, specifically, the secondary school preparation of our own students who have succeeded at Harvard. Because the content of courses may vary from high school to high school, we have tried to identify important knowledge, skills, or habits of thought, rather than naming specific courses.

Of course, you will take your individual situation into account. Just as each student has different talents and interests that need to be developed, schools vary considerably in their particular strengths. You may encounter unique circumstances, such as resource limitations or the opportunity to learn from a great teacher.

Facts About Financial Aid

$0

Amount that parents making less than $65,000 are expected to contribute.

Ninety percent of American families would pay the same or less to send their children to Harvard as they would a state school.

VISIT HARVARD

Stroll through Harvard Yard, ask Admissions staff all your questions, and feel the warmth of the Harvard community. See tour dates and times.

Admissions APPLICATION TIPS

Get step-by-step tips for completing your application.