Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown and Penn: 2019 Information Session

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By Rajkamal Rao

On May 21 2019, five elite colleges - Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown and Penn - presented an information session in Ft. Worth to a group of 150+ parents and high school juniors. In many ways, the evening was similar to a session a few weeks earlier when Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell and Rice presented.

But back to the Harvard, Stanford, et al colleges. Each school is private, co-ed, and has a reputation for research. Each school is highly selective and is proud of its need-blind admission policy, which means that offers of admission go out regardless of families' ability to pay. Each school promises that for families making up to $65,000, all expenses for tuition, room, and board are met by the school. For families making up to $125,000, tuition expenses are zero, although room and board expenses still apply.  Each school says that parents must visit their net price estimate site to get an idea of what they will likely pay.

Class sizes are small. Each school offers 100+ clubs. All proudly host Division 1/NCAA sports teams. Stanford is a big player in the PAC. Nearly all have residence halls which bring a distinct student experience. If a student is lucky enough to win admission, his/her future is virtually assured given the brand.

Harvard's great selling point is that it offers 3,500+ courses each year, including classes that students can take at MIT. Duke says that Durham's small city experience - and the huge campus - are draws. Georgetown's campus is the smallest among the five, but perched on the Potomac and minutes from the White House, it offers excellent opportunities for students interested in politics and international affairs.

Stanford's major appeal are the size of the campus, the location and the proximity to technology and venture companies. Penn's location, midway between New York and Washington, is also appealing.

Getting in

Like we said for other elite schools, you must have a near perfect student profile - grades, test scores, evidence of taking on difficult courses in high school, recommendations, essays, strong extracurriculars, leadership in community service and a personality which stands out. And all these are just to get past the gate. After that, getting in requires a nod from God.

Each school prides itself on trying to know more about you through its supplemental essays. An excellent essay still doesn't get you in, but an average essay surely gets you out of contention. Read our primer on essays to prepare.

There are so many administrative things to keep tabs on that one needs to be tremendously organized to complete all tasks within stated deadlines. Here's a summary of each school's Early Action, Early Decision and Regular deadlines.

Image Courtesy: Joint presentation of the five schools.

As a rule, financial aid deadlines don't coincide with deadlines from the office of admissions. All schools will require both the FAFSA and the CSS applications to be completed.

Our takeaway

Hire a professional counselor - it's worth the investment. We are glad to help and offer you peace of mind during the admissions process. Individual counseling is part of the Premium Offering of Rao Advisors and involves a fee.  Please contact us for more information.

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