Getting into any university, especially prestigious universities (like Harvard or Stanford), can be highly competitive, as they admit a small percentage of applicants each year. To increase your chances of acceptance, it's essential to excel academically and have a well-rounded profile.

Below, we will review the most important criteria (in order) for getting into college.

How ROCO can help

ROCO can help you by:

Here are some key factors that can help you get into Harvard, Stanford, or similar top-tier institutions.

Strong Academic Record

Maintaining a high GPA throughout high school, and taking challenging courses like Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes are key. Top universities look for students who challenge themselves and excel academically.

Standardized Test Scores

Achieve high scores on standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. While some universities have recently adopted test-optional policies, strong test scores can still strengthen your application.

Extracurricular Activities

Participate in meaningful extracurricular activities that demonstrate your interests, passions, and leadership abilities. These could include clubs, sports, volunteer work, internships, or research experiences.

Community Involvement

Engage in community service or other activities that demonstrate your commitment to making a positive impact on your community.


Write compelling and well-crafted personal essays that showcase your unique perspective, experiences, and goals. These essays provide an opportunity for the admissions committee to understand who you are beyond your academic achievements.

Letters of Recommendation

Obtain strong letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or mentors who can speak to your character, work ethic, and potential for success.

Awards and Honors

Showcase your achievements by highlighting any awards, honors, or recognitions you've received for your academic, extracurricular, or community involvement efforts.

Demonstrated Interest

Research the universities you're applying to, and show genuine interest in their programs, culture, and values. Attend college fairs, information sessions, or campus visits to learn more about each institution.


Prepare for potential interviews by practicing your responses to common questions, and be ready to articulate your passion for the university and how you can contribute to its community.

Stand Out

Finally, find ways to make your application stand out by highlighting your unique experiences, background, or perspective. Top universities are interested in creating a diverse and dynamic student body.

It's important to remember that admission to Harvard, Stanford, or similar top-tier universities is never guaranteed, even for highly qualified applicants. Start preparing early, focus on building a strong and well-rounded profile, and consider applying to a range of schools to increase your chances of finding the best fit for your academic and personal goals.

ROCO Chicago


ROCO Chicago, the Romanian Community Center, is a modern center dedicated to engaging and supporting our community and accelerating Romanian businesses in Chicago. ROCO has minimal staff and works with hundreds of volunteers.

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