Does Harvard University value a good sense of humor? You bet the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school appreciates a candidate who knows how to laugh and inspires others to laugh, too. And you bet the school appreciates a candidate with resolve and strength of character. Heck, it’s not like we haven’t written about the importance of grit in highly selective college admissions before on the pages of our blog. And if you haven’t noticed that we’ve been stressing the importance of a a great sense of humor in admissions for many years, then you must be reading the super dry college admissions blog of another private college counseling firm — certainly not ours. We write about college admissions every day. Can you imagine? We’ve thus got to keep things fun. It’s one of our core objectives. Helping showcase our students’ unique senses of humor is a core objective when we work with them on their college applications and many admissions essays, too.
Harvard Values Grit and Humor
We always like it when the things we say when few others are saying them are confirmed by other reliable sources for the world to know. As part of the court filings in the lawsuit against Harvard University brought by the group known as Students for Fair Admissions, it was made public that Harvard gauges a candidate’s grit and sense of humor in the admissions process. As Alana M. Steinberg writes for “The Harvard Crimson” in a piece entitled “Harvard Ranks Applicants on ‘Humor’ and ‘Grit,’ Court Filings Show,” “Harvard admissions officers assign numerical scores from 1 to 6 to each College applicant they consider and use those scores to determine Harvard hopefuls’ fates…Harvard’s filing states that admissions officers review candidates’ ‘humor, sensitivity, grit, leadership, integrity, helpfulness, courage, kindness and many other qualities’ when determining the personal rating. A ‘1’ score denotes ‘outstanding’ personal skills; ‘2’ denotes ‘very strong’ skills; ‘3’ denotes ‘generally positive’ skills; ‘4’ means a candidate is ‘bland or somewhat negative or immature’; ‘5’ means the candidate possesses ‘questionable personal qualities’; and ‘6’ points to “worrisome personal qualities.”
The Opposite of Bland is Weird in College Admissions
We’d like to emphasize one word in particular within the descriptions of the numerical scores used by Harvard. And what is that word? Bland. Let’s repeat it to drive home our point to our loyal readers. Bland, bland, bland. So many applicants present themselves as bland when they apply to highly selective colleges like Harvard. And, yes, it’s particularly true among Asian American applicants. So many Asian American applicants present with the same or similar profiles. Another student who plays the violin. Another student who runs track. Another student who excels in math olympiad. Snorefest. But Ivy Coach, how can you say that? Oh please, we’ve been saying this for decades. We speak the truth from atop our soapbox in college admissions and if you don’t like it, well, we’re sure you can find a college counseling firm that tells you your child’s ‘C’ is really an ‘A’ at other schools. We have an allergy to sugarcoating.
And our students at Ivy Coach, well, you can bet they never present as bland to schools like Harvard. This includes our Asian American students. It’s why when folks ask us to differentiate our business from other private college counseling firms, the first thing we so often say is: we make students weird. If bland had an opposite, it’s weird. And, at Ivy Coach, we are all about weird.