“Seeam Bhai, How do I get into Harvard?” – The Resources You Need

Harvard acceptance

বাংলায় ব্লগটি পড়তে এখানে ক্লিক করুন।

This article contains all the resources I found to be most useful to know everything there is about US undergraduate admissions and, for those curious, my personal journey to Harvard. Some of the resources are in Bengali, so I apologize if you don’t speak the language. The most important ones are in English so don’t worry.

If you want more content like this, check out my dedicated YouTube playlist on admissions.

Why am I writing this

Ever since I got into Harvard on March 30th, 2017, I have been asked this question over thousands of times: from Facebook, YouTube to LinkedIn and emails. Truth is I don’t know the answer to that exact question. Another question I get is “If I do X and Y, will I get into Harvard?”. I don’t have the answer to that question either. Almost no one does to be honest. I can’t say I will get into Harvard if I ever applied again. But I do know the process of application thoroughly which a lot of Bangladeshi students don’t. Clearly there was an information gap that I felt I needed to bridge. At first, I tried doing just that.

I went to multiple schools across Dhaka to host information sessions on how to apply to US universities throughout my whole winter vacation.

Clip from my Bangla information session at Adamjee Cantonment College

I appeared in many interviews to talk about the process and negative myths surrounding it.

My Bangla interview clip from the 10 Minute Show

I wrote multiple blogs and I also organized workshop series to close the information gap between US undergraduate admissions and Bangladeshi students. But the questions kept on coming, sometimes in very inappropriate places as well, leaving me wondering if the questions will ever end and if there is a sustainable way to answer them.

A person asking me about the SAT on my Facebook post mourning the death of Sir Fazle Hasan Abid

I realized very soon, it is impossible to reply to every message with care and in detail that I had initially intended. It is also impossible to talk about my not-so-special personal journey over and over again. And thus, I write this to share all the resources I think can help to know everything there is to know about US undergraduate admissions.

Disclaimer:

From now on, I will just be sharing this article with anyone who will be asking me about US undergraduate admissions. Even after pointing people towards the right resources which answers the questions they are asking, they often ask the same questions again hoping I can spill some secret of a shortcut that might give them an edge. Well, there is no shortcut. It’s a mixture of hard work and luck. There is no secret sauce or at least one that I haven’t shared. Everything I know will be shared below.

The Resources:

Let’s start with the overall admission process. I covered it in 10 minutes on my channel. Watch this video and then for the different topics I mentioned in the video, I have provided resources for each below.

Here is the same video but in Bangla:

If you want to know when to apply and things you should consider while deciding, check out this article I wrote for 10 Minute School.

Now, if you want to get some advice on how to get into prestigious universities in general, this article by Tarik Adnan Moon, Harvard ’15, is an article which really hits the point.

If you want to know what a successful US student Harvard application looks like, check this article by PrepScholar where the founder shares his successful Harvard application. In general, PrepScholar has really useful college admission articles.

Click to get article

Successful Bangladeshi Harvard Application Profile

Now, Prep Scholar’s profile might not be relatable to you. So, I also interviewed a few Bangladeshi students on their journey to Harvard. Both of them received 100% financial aid from Harvard and have very different backgrounds.

Isheka’s Complete Harvard Profile

Successful Bangladeshi Harvard Application from NCTB

Irtiza’s successful Harvard & Princeton Application

Successful Bangladeshi Oxford Application

I get questions on getting into Oxford a lot. Oxford doesn’t provide financial aid as much as Harvard does but it does have 2-3 100% scholarship spots for undergrads (Oxford Reach Scholarship). Ahmed Ittihad Hasib and Orthi Onupom (I interviewed Orthi on how to look for UK scholarships) received those scholarships. I had the privilege of interviewing Hasib on the whole application process.

Hasib’s successful Oxford Application

How to select colleges if you need money

It can be hard to select colleges if you need financial aid since a lot of them don’t offer financial aid to international students. Samin Rahman, fantastic educational content creator, did a video on it. Check it out. Here is also a list of top universities where Bangladeshis got amazing scholarships. You have to join the Facebook group to see the post.

Extracurricular activities (ECA): What should I do?

Anything you do outside your academic life that helps you grow personally and leaves a positive impact can be considered an ECA. That could really be anything ranging from starting a club and learning a language to starting a non-profit or playing an instrument. Generally, national/international awards increase your chances of getting into a top university. Watch the playlist below to have an idea of what type of ECAs you need to get into top universities.

My ECAs

In case you were curious, I talked about my ECAs in this Q/A I did for my channel’s 10K subscriber special. I also answered questions on the process of getting into Harvard Medical School, my financial aid, the best time to apply etc.

Standardized Exams: How I studied for the SAT

SAT can be hard. Here I shared my specific 2-month routine that I used to get 1540/1600 on the SAT while preparing for Bangladeshi national admissions as well.

How I learned English: The Entire Journey

One of the most important things in the US application journey is English proficiency. Here I spoke with Labib Tazwar Rahman from Stanford and we shared the techniques and habits we used to improve in English.

Essays: How to write successful essays

If you have never written an application essay before and don’t know what should they look like, what qualities admission officers look for in your essay or the techniques you can use to write great essays, then this video is for you. In case you are curious about my Harvard essay, I shared it below as well.

Essays: My successful Harvard Essay

Cost of Applying and Studying and how to minimize them:

The entire US application process can be expensive if you don’t know certain hacks you can use to apply for free. Labib (Stanford) and I covered those hacks below.

My video on everything related to Finance during applications

A few students also did a walkthrough on how they looked for financial aid while applying. The walkthrough is here.

Handling US applications and Bangladeshi admissions:

A lot of times Bangladeshi students are required to prepare for both US applications and Bangladeshi admission exams together. I prepared for both and got into IBA, Dhaka University, a top 5 medical college, and Harvard. Shweta did both and got into both BUET and the Ivy League Brown University. We shared our preparation techniques below.

The communities:

There are communities which can be very useful during the whole process. Communities like Bangladeshis Beyond Borders (biggest community with ~55000 members), Nerd Community (more for English Medium students) and their file sections, are amazing resources for college admissions in general.

My Story (if you are curious):

I talked about my admission days and also provided some advice for high-school students in the interviews collected in the playlist below.

Bangla Interview for Radio Dhol

I also talked about it from a Cadet College perspective here for my fellow Ex-cadets.

Graduate School Questions:

I get a lot of questions on Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School requirements. I will be honest, my advice will be only as good as what I can get from their admission pages. So, I suggest you visit the hyperlinks in the previous sentence. Higher Study Abroad is a great Facebook group for Bangladeshis looking to go abroad for higher studies. Furthermore, you can find the alumni of these institutions on LinkedIn or on Facebook or via email and ask for advice. Check out my website’s contact section to find articles on how to write great emails. You might find this video useful as well.

Interview for Graduate Schools (Harvard Kennedy School)
Bangla Playlist on Bangladesh to MIT/Harvard for Master’s

If you want more content like this, check out my dedicated YouTube playlist on admissions.

Finally:

This is your journey and you are your greatest resource. At the end of the day, you have to do it all by yourself. All we can do is help and provide guidance. I hope the resources above can do that for you. If you still have some questions, do me a favor and google it. Google has always been my greatest resource. I am not kidding.

Nas Daily on how he googled to Harvard

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