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Common Questions About the Secondary School Program

The application for Summer 2024 is closed.

Why apply early?

There are several reasons why applying early is a good idea.

  • It’s less stressful for everyone when you apply early. You avoid the rush and anxiety of applying close to the deadline. You give your parents and other supporting adults more time to do what they need to do to assist you. This includes your counselor, who has a significant role in your application.
  • More financial aid is available in the early round, so scholarships tend to be larger.
  • When you apply and are admitted early, you leave yourself ample time to perform necessary post-admission tasks.
  • Once admitted, you’ll have all of February to call us for academic advising as you choose your courses.
  • Early admission means you’ll be ready to enroll in courses when registration begins on March 1. Registering early means you can reserve your spot in your first-choice classes, even those with limited capacity.

The early application deadline for Summer 2024 is January 10, 2024.

How do I ensure that I choose courses that will enhance my college application?

The Secondary School Program staff members have a lot of experience advising high school students. We will work with students to help them select courses that suit their skills, interests, and goals. Because we are intimately familiar with the summer course offerings, we can help ensure that you enroll in courses that will help you succeed.

Our office is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Contact us for more information or email us to set up an advising appointment.

Does attending the Secondary School Program guarantee admission to Harvard?

No. However, attending Harvard Summer School and performing well will strengthen your application to any college or university. Additionally, the Secondary School Program offers many opportunities designed to help you navigate the college application process, gain admission to the college of your choice, and enhance your performance in a college setting.

Is financial aid available?

Yes.* Scholarship amounts depend on variables such as family finances, availability of funds, and whether a student lives on campus, commutes, or attends online. Harvard Summer School staff cannot predict how much aid a student may be offered. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for admission to the Secondary School Program and complete the financial aid application by the deadline. All submitted material will be reviewed.

To be eligible:

  • You must be a US citizen or permanent resident 
  • OR you must be granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status
  • You must complete the applications and all other requirements on time 

See Program Cost for more information.

May homeschooled students apply?

Yes, we welcome applications from students who are being schooled at home. Adults in the student’s life, other than family, may submit a letter of recommendation. One or two letters are sufficient. The Counselor Report cannot be submitted by a family member. If you are unsure of who could complete the form, please email and we can help.

Can my family or guardians gain access to my application, records, and information?

In accordance with our policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), we cannot release information such as a student’s grades or class schedule to family members or guardians. Except for information defined as “directory information,” no other information about Secondary School Program students is released outside the University—including to parents, guardians, or family members—without the student’s prior written consent, unless otherwise authorized or required by law.

We communicate by email directly with prospective and current students—not with parents or other third parties. Please be sure you check email daily to ensure you receive important communications from the Secondary School Program.

What policies related to conduct should I be aware of?

You should read the Student Handbook and the policy section of the website, both of which outline student responsibilities in areas such as conduct, attendance, and academic integrity. 

How difficult are the courses taken by Secondary School Program students?

SSP students enroll in credit-bearing Harvard Summer School courses, the same courses that are taken by college students, graduate students, and older adult learners. A significant commitment of time outside of class, for reading and assignments, is expected by faculty here. On average, the work required outside of class time is 8-12 hours per week per four-credit course, but this varies by course and depending on the assignments for the week. It is helpful to remember that you are not only enrolling in college-level courses, but the Summer School term is a condensed and intensive one, so the work will feel quite different from what you are used to in high school. We have heard from prior students that it is the challenge of these courses that particularly attracted them to the SSP. You will be proud of all you have accomplished at the end of the summer.

Are there exceptions to the minimum age to enroll?

Due to Massachusetts state law and other governmental and University policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including testing protocols and treatment practices, Harvard Summer School has determined that all students enrolled in Harvard Summer School for Summer 2024 must be at least 16 years old by June 22, 2024, and will not turn 19 years old before July 31, 2024.

This is a recent change to the age requirement. If you had planned to apply to Harvard Summer School and no longer meet the age requirement, we hope you will plan to apply next year.