Harvard University

35 Harvard Essays That Worked

Updated for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle.

About Harvard

One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Harvard University is the United States’ oldest college. Steeped in a rich 400 year history, Harvard's rich academic and research environment has fostered some of the world's brightest minds. Students at this Cambridge-based school have access to a world-class education and a community with exceptional talents, resources, and connections. Indeed, Harvard’s alumni includes presidents, billionaires, and award-winning researchers. Motivated students and passionate faculty members make it possible for Harvard's students to pursue their passions and gain the experience they need to realize their goals and make the world a better place.

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Real Essays from Harvard Admits

Prompt: Your intellectual life may extend beyond the academic requirements of your particular school. Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. These could include, but are not limited to, supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere.

Leisure Reading: Silent Spring—Rachel Carson The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—Douglas Adams The Old Man and the Sea—Ernest Hemingway Blood Meridian, The Road—Cormac McCarthy Die Welt von Gestern—Stefan Zweig Cicero—Anthony Everret Independent research: Used GIS mapping and Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System to analyze traffic collision data in my city. Books: The Death and Life of Great American Cities—Jane Jacobs The Color of Law—Richard Rothstein Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance—Andonia E. Lugo Historical research areas from hours perusing Wikipedia, YouTube, and scholarly articles: 19th Century Urbanism and the Sanitation Revolution Implications of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the British betrayal of the Hashemites Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas’ nationalization of Mexican oil and foundation of PEMEX Mercantilism and how it stunted Iberian colonies’ development post-independence Fall of the Roman Republic Norman Conquest of England The Trial of Charles I CA Dominguez, Victor CEEB: 050438 Fall 2023 15 FY RD CAID: 34107877 Risorgimento Among others.

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Essay by Víctor

i love cities <3

Prompt: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.

Every Monday through Thursday after school, I worked with at-risk students, who came from low-income backgrounds or received ESOL services, in the Readers are Leaders and Atom Buddies programs in two elementary schools. My buddies and I would read a book, summarize its content, and answer questions regarding its purpose. Gradually, there was a noticeable improvement in their reading and comprehension skills. Soon, they became better speakers, more confident of their thoughts and began leading the discussions. To intervene at an early age to impact a child’s development of intellect, behavior, perception, language, and judgement through a universal medium like books is monumental. As an immigrant, I understood the emotional and mental toll of a language barrier making you feel like an outsider. I actively chased my goal in preventing this feeling. When all students were above their English level, grinning during their program’s graduation, I’d say it was fulfilled.

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Essay by Bia Mekonnen

Premed | Public Health and Education Advocate | Injera Eater | Psychology and Neuroscience at Yale

Prompt: You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments.

As the other kids prepared to present their 3D-printed towers to students and parents, Nathan fretted, brow furrowed and arms crossed, deeply anxious about the prospect of speaking in front of the large audience. I was in my third year as an assistant teacher for a middle school weekend STEM class when I met Nathan, a student on the autism spectrum. While the other students worked in pairs, Nathan adamantly insisted he work alone. I was happy to support Nathan as he designed a miniature CAD model of the Big Ben, but he was now tasked with presenting alone, without a partner, unlike the rest of the students. Though he struggled socially and shuddered at the thought of reaching out to his classmates, the other students failed to make an effort to reach out to him. I was perplexed as to why the other kids felt content in excluding Nathan, but as I honestly admitted to myself, I had been no better at their age. Nathan displayed behaviors reminiscent of those of my older brother [Name Redacted], who has severe autism. [Name Redacted] is the most affectionate brother, constantly projecting an infectious smile that has the enchanting power to put me at ease; yet so many people unwittingly deprive him of the fair chance to live a life free from prejudice—including my younger self. When I was my students’ age, I felt a disgraceful degree of shame upon going into public with [Name Redacted], embarrassed by his random loud outbursts and the disparaging stares we would receive from almost every stranger. However, growing up alongside [Name Redacted], I sometimes observed genuine kindness that made me re-examine my outlook. I began to recognize that autism doesn’t make [Name Redacted] disabled; it’s how society accommodates his differences that dictates whether he’s disabled or not. Perceiving the barriers perpetuated by a world not inherently designed for people like [Name Redacted], I felt progressively empowered to try to make life more accommodating for others. I calmly assured Nathan that he would not need to present in person; instead, I recorded a video of his individual presentation to send to his parents, which alleviated his fears. In the subsequent classes, I put significant effort into connecting Nathan with the other students. I typically spent a majority of each class working with Nathan, trying to support him in any way I could. I’m eternally grateful that [Name Redacted] has helped me become more compassionate and understanding of those around me, whether it’s Nathan or simply a random stranger I encounter in public. Beyond the interactions I share with others, [Name Redacted] has also shaped my aspirations for the future. I am drawn in large part to technological innovation because it provides the avenue through which I can continue to better the lives of differently-abled people. I plan to innovate efficient assistive technology, such as AI-powered robotic assistants, to aid those whom society often overlooks. I’m proud that I can serve as an advocate for acceptance and help those who need it most. As I endeavor to provide meaningful assistance to these individuals, I hope I can inspire others to act in a similar manner.

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Essay by Sarah J.

cs @ stanford!! lover of STEM, taylor swift, and dogs!

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