Update: Classes no longer require sign-in.
It can seem daunting to try and gain admission to an elite school like Harvard without having any family connections or wealth. But I can assure it is possible to get in without your family donating a building or blackmailing the squash coach. Through the following tips, you’ll see that your Ivy League aspirations are within your reach through hard work, perseverance, and stealing the janitor’s keys.
While this isn’t mandatory, visiting the campus can give you a better idea of what the college experience is like at Harvard. Take a campus tour and learn about Harvard’s academic programs, the rooming situation, and the exact location of the admissions office. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about financial aid or what time the janitor cleans the admissions office. Feel free to explore on your own, too. Take a stroll through Harvard Yard, grab a slice of pizza at Pinocchio’s, make a detailed list of the security cameras surrounding the admissions office and which supply closet the janitor stores their keys in.
Choose Recommendations Wisely
Many students mistakenly ask a teacher who doesn’t know them very well to write their recommendation letter. Good recommenders are teachers who you’ve developed a personal connection with. They can testify to your work ethic, your character, and where you were on the night of February 27th from the hours of 5 PM to midnight. To guide your recommenders, give them a copy of your resume or a letter with a picture of their children threatening if they don’t stick to the story you’ve given them… after all, accidents can happen. And remember, if the recommenders sound convinced, a jury will believe it.
Ace Standardized Tests
Doing well on standardized tests demonstrates your critical thinking skills and that you perform well under pressure. Doing daily practice questions can help you prepare. Questions like: “A certain sedative must be given at a dosage of 1mL/18.5 lbs. to knock someone unconscious for half an hour. How many milliliters of sedative must you sneak into a 200 lb. janitor’s diet coke at 7 PM to incapacitate them until 9 PM?” or “A miscalculation with the dosage caused the janitor to wake up and figure out what you were doing, forcing you to…take care of the situation. If the janitor was only given ¾ the required dosage, how long do you have before the security guard makes his nighttime round at 9:30 PM?”
Get Involved in Extracurriculars
Harvard’s admissions committee wants to see students with interests outside of the classroom. Extracurriculars can also be a great way to develop new skills. The Coding Club, for example, can help you get proficient in Python or hack into a university’s admissions database to edit the decision on a certain applicant. Maybe join the Forensics Club and learn how to remove your fingerprints from, for example, the janitor’s supply closet.
Pursue activities that you genuinely enjoy and are interested in. Transforming into a fun character in Drama Club can help you get into character for important performances, such as when confronted by a nosy security guard. Why, you’re just a tourist who got lost and somehow found their way inside the Harvard admissions office at night. You have no idea why the janitor’s keys are in your pocket, or why the janitor is passed out on the floor and isn’t breathing. Aaaaand, scene!
Play A Sport
It’s no surprise that many top students are also athletes. The skills you learn on the field are surprisingly relevant to succeeding at college – and in life! Committees will value things like teamwork, strategy, having enough stamina to run from the Cambridge Police with a 200-pound body over your back, and rowing down the Charles River in the middle of the night without being seen.
Be Cautious on Social Media
Many students overlook how the things they post on social media can negatively impact their chances of admission. What you put on social media lives forever, and can be used as evidence in a criminal trial. If you post a selfie inside the Harvard admissions office in the middle of the night with the caption “Have a feeling I’ll get my acceptance letter any day now,” or take a video of you dumping a mysterious body bag into the Charles River with the hashtags “#LateNightSwim #WhatJanitor” underneath, you can kiss admission to Harvard (and parole) goodbye. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your grandmother or a state prosecutor to see it, don’t post it.
Perfect Your Essay
The personal essay is one of the most important components of your application and gives you one last chance to tell the admissions committee who you are as a person. Show them you’re a compassionate, kind soul, incapable of crimes like trespassing or murder. You want to go beyond a generic story of self-improvement, and show that you’ve grappled with deeper philosophical questions like “Can I live with the decisions I’ve made?” and “Am I worthy of God’s mercy?”
By following this advice, you can secure your spot in Harvard’s incoming class. But even if you don’t, the truth is it doesn’t matter what school you go to. These skills can help you gain entry into any elite university or low-level bank. More importantly, they will set you up for success in life – unless, of course, you get caught. In which case you should flee the country immediately.
Moshe Kasher’s podcast Hound Tall is hilarious and really informative. Andrea Savage’s show I’m Sorry on Netflix was underrated. I watched Eric Andre’s movie Bad Trip last night and it was amazing. Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) on Twitter always has the best takes.