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Common Questions About the Pre-College Program

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, should be asked to submit the counselor report and a letter of recommendation.

Can I gain access to my student’s 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 academic evaluations or class schedule to family members or guardians. Except for information defined as “directory information,” no other information about 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 e-mail directly with prospective and current students—not with parents or other third parties. Please be sure your child checks e-mail daily to ensure he or she receives important communications.

How can I be assured of the safety and security while on campus?

Harvard takes safety and security seriously and offers many services, tools, policies, and procedures to help maintain a safe environment on campus. The Pre-College Program staff is on call and available to our students 24 hours a day. If a student has a problem or concern, or if they ever feel unsafe, we offer many avenues of assistance and support.

  • They can visit the program office any weekday between 9 am and 5 pm.

  • Proctors who live in Houses with Pre-College Program students are available as a resource to students. Staff members serve in an on-call rotation and also have office hours.

  • In an emergency, or after hours and on weekends and holidays, students can call the Harvard Police or visit University Health Services After-Hours Urgent Care. The police and health services are available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What policies related to conduct should I be aware of?

Students should read the student handbook and the policy section of the website, both of which outline student responsibilities in such areas as conduct, attendance, and academic integrity. Harvard Summer School puts safety first, and program rules prohibiting involvement with alcohol and drugs are an important factor in our effort to provide students with a positive environment for study and growth in the summer.

This is why the program supports a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal substances. Zero tolerance means that a student found to have attended a gathering where alcohol or drugs are present is subject to immediate dismissal from the Summer School. No Summer School fees are refunded.

How many events do students have to attend?

We want students to be engaged, and to seek out events that they find interesting. Students are encouraged to attend as many as possible, but are required to attend at least two events from each of the following categories: academic exploration, college readiness, social events, and trips and activities. Some events will be mandatory, while others may be optional.

What other college campuses will students be able to visit?

Students will be able to choose to visit one or two out of seven possible campuses in and around Boston. At each college, students may hear from an admissions representative and attend a tour of the campus. And of course, Pre-College Program students may tour Harvard University and attend an information session to learn more about the College’s admissions process.

Will I be able to pick up my student for a short visit during the program?

Keep in mind that the Pre-College Program is an immersive experience designed to keep students intellectually and socially engaged throughout their two week stay.

Students will have two to four hours of homework each night in addition to all of the social and co-curricular events that are available to them, so they will be busy! The student will miss out on activities and workshops, if they leave the program at any time.

What should students bring to be prepared for class, extra-curricular events, and trips off campus?

Students will participate in a variety of events both on and off campus. Here is some advice to consider when packing:

  • Students may dress casually for class, but students who are required to give presentations sometimes prefer to dress up.  

  • Bringing a laptop is recommended. For some courses, a laptop or tablet is required; please check the course description for prerequisites. Computer labs and printers are available for students to use.

  • During each session, we typically plan a trip to the beach, so students should pack sunscreen, a bathing suit, and a towel.

  • All meals are provided. Harvard Dining Services will prepare a special bagged meal for your student for off-campus trips.

  • A talent show is scheduled during each session. Students are welcome to bring small props or instruments to show off their talents!

What do I need to keep in mind when making travel arrangements?

Students are required to attend their entire course, including their first and last class meetings. Check-in is the Sunday before courses begin. Students may depart following their last class but no later than 7:30 pm.

Please understand that Harvard cannot take responsibility for students before check-in time on the Sunday of each check-in, or after 7:30 pm on the last Friday of each session. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, minors (below the age of 18) may not check into a hotel by themselves, and therefore do not schedule your student to arrive before check-in or to leave after the check-out.

For more information about check-in, see the Pre-College arrival guide, available in the spring.

If students will be flying to Boston, how should they travel to the Harvard campus? 

Students are responsible for their transportation to campus. We recommend taking a taxi cab, especially if you have heavy luggage. The cab ride costs $35 to $40 and takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Public transportation is also available. The commute is longer, but it costs less than $3. The Silver Line bus will take you from the airport terminal directly to the Red Line subway, which has a stop in Harvard Square. More comprehensive information about arrival and directions to the check-in location will be posted closer to the start of the program.

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