How to Get Into & Pay for College


All I want to do is get into Harvard. How do I do it?

QUESTION: This is the beginning of my junior year, and I would like to know what it takes to get into Harvard. I had a 3.1 GPA my freshman year and last year a 3.7. I study for the ACT, PSAT, and SAT all the time. I am in all AP classes and am doing well now as far as grades go. I run track and play baseball, work to pay for my car, and participate in the Beta club, teen court, and Youth Impact. I'm so stressed out. All I want to do is get into Harvard. I think it’s a long shot since they accept less than 12% of the applicants. What can I do more besides get a 4.0 in the next two years? Signed, Harvard or Bust

Dear Harvard or Bust: You are doing everything right to get into Harvard. Unfortunately, you are also doing everything right to have a nervous breakdown. Take a few moments to ask yourself some serious questions. Why has it become your life’s goal to go to Harvard? Are you enjoying all of the activities in which you are participating? Why not consider that there is more to life and success than attending one particular college?

You have some very admirable achievements, including performing well in classes, working part-time, and participating in numerous activities. Colleges will most certainly recognize your self-motivation and achievements.

But, you can most certainly be a happy, successful, contributing member of society without going to Harvard, or any other selective college for that matter.

Our advice is to continue to take challenging courses and focus on your grades, but only participate in the activities that you truly enjoy. Don’t do something only because you think it will make you look good to Harvard. Realize that you don’t have to go to a certain college to be successful, and you should not sacrifice your high school years for the sole aim of getting into a particular college.

Understand that what’s more important than the education you receive is what you do with it. We think you will go far. We just don’t think you need to set Harvard as your sole goal.


Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.

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