Frequently Asked Questions
Read through the SSP webpages, then browse the below FAQs or contact the SSP office (617-495-3192 or email@example.com) if your question has not yet been answered.
Questions by category:
- Application and admission
- Academics and registration
- Transcripts and transfer credit
- Arriving and leaving campus
- Campus life
Application and admission
- May recommendations from more than one teacher be submitted?
- Is there a class at Harvard on preparing for the SAT?
- Will attending the Secondary School Program guarantee admission to Harvard?
- Is financial aid available?
- Are you able to waive the $50 application fee for students in need of financial aid?
- May homeschooled students apply?
- I haven’t taken the PSAT, the ACT, or the SAT yet. May I still apply?
- Do I have to take the TOEFL?
- May I substitute my score on the SAT Reasoning Test for a TOEFL or IELTS score?
- What are the cut-offs for test scores like the TOEFL or my GPA?
- I submitted my application three weeks ago. When will I hear from the SSP?
- What does it mean to be waitlisted?
- My application was not successful. Can you tell me why?
Academics and registration
- I understand that students living on campus must be full-time students. How do you define full-time academic status?
- Are there any science research opportunities at the Summer School?
- Can I get approval to miss a class?
- When will I receive my grades?
- How do I petition for permission to enroll in a “restricted course”?
Transcripts and transfer credit
- I attended the SSP last summer and am now applying to colleges. How can I have a transcript sent to the colleges I’m applying to?
- I’m in college now and want to transfer the Harvard credits I earned while I was an SSP student. How can I do this?
Arriving on and leaving campus
- I’m flying to Boston, and I wonder how to get to the Harvard campus. Will someone pick me up at the airport?
- Where should I tell the cab driver to take me?
- May I arrive after Opening Weekend?
- What if I arrive late during Opening Weekend?
- May I arrive late if my New York Regents exam conflicts with the first week of classes?
- My high school begins in August before the end of the exam period. May I leave Harvard early to start the fall term back home?
- I’m making my travel arrangements. When may I plan to leave campus?
- Will I need any kind of ID for Opening Weekend check-in?
- If I arrive on campus early on Opening Weekend, before my roommates arrive, do I get to choose which bed is mine for the rest of the summer?
- May I choose my roommate?
- May I know my roommates’ names and home addresses before Summer School begins?
- May a friend visit or stay overnight in my dorm?
Application and admission
May recommendations from more than one teacher be submitted?
Yes. The application asks for reports from one teacher and one counselor or school head. If you wish to submit additional teacher recommendations, you may.
Is there a class at Harvard on preparing for the SAT?
Although there is no course specifically geared to the SAT, you may find the college prep workshop Preparing for and Taking Tests and Exams in College helpful. You may also choose to enroll in Harvard’s noncredit course Reading and Study Strategies. This popular and traditional course includes instruction on strategies for taking several kinds of tests, as well as guidance on many other topics (such as time management and in-class notes) designed to enable students to perform better both in college and in high school.
Will attending the Secondary School Program guarantee admission to Harvard?
No, there is no relation between admission to the Harvard Summer School Secondary School Program and admission to the freshman class at Harvard College. 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 once enrolled in college.
Is financial aid available?
Yes, SSP students who are US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for SSP financial aid. Before applying for financial aid, it is important to understand the policy. If applying for financial aid, complete your SSP application by March 25. Completed financial aid applications are also due by March 25. See Financial Aid for instructions on how to apply.
Are you able to waive the $50 application fee for students in need of financial aid?
Unfortunately, we cannot waive the application fee for any applicant.
May homeschooled students apply?
Yes, we welcome applications from students who are being schooled at home. Where possible, teacher and counselor reports should be completed by educators who are not related to the applicant.
I haven’t taken the PSAT, the ACT, or the SAT yet. May I still apply?
Do I have to take the TOEFL?
Summer School courses are intensive and fast-paced, and most involve a great deal of reading and writing. Thus, in order to document their level of English-language proficiency, applicants who are not native English speakers are required to submit a TOEFL, IELTS, or Pearson PTE Academic score as a required component of their SSP application.
However, an applicant whose native language is not English may request a waiver of the language-test requirement, and in rare circumstances, such a request may be granted. A form exists for requesting a waiver of the language-test requirement.
May I substitute my score on the SAT Reasoning Test for a TOEFL or IELTS score?
No. However, if you absolutely cannot take the TOEFL, the IELTS, or the Pearson PTE Academic and wish to request that we waive the language-test requirement, please complete and submit the form referred to above.
What are the cut-offs for test scores like the TOEFL or my GPA?
The SSP admissions committee does not use a cut-off figure for any test score, or for grade-point averages (GPA). The committee carefully reads the material in a student’s application, then makes an admission decision based on all the evidence, not just on one score alone. If improving your English-language skills is your goal this summer, you should consider applying to the Secondary School Intensive English Language Program.
I submitted my application three weeks ago. When will I hear from the SSP?
The admissions committee reads application files only after all completed forms, including the teacher report, the counselor report, and the most recent transcript, have been filed. You may log in to see which of your applications materials have been received. Once an application is complete, it takes approximately two weeks for a decision to be made and recorded. Please be patient.
What does it mean to be waitlisted?
Applicants who are waitlisted have completed their SSP application, but have been placed on a waitlist either because the admissions committee feels that their grades need to show improvement, or because the program has almost reached capacity.
- Waitlist for grades. Applicants waitlisted for grades should send the SSP office a copy of their next grade report. We may accept a student whose grades improve upon review of the additional official report.
- Waitlist for capacity. The lateness of the application and the rate at which the program has filled forces us to put the applicant on the waitlist. The SSP waitlist is not ranked. In past years the number of students admitted from the waitlist varied greatly. We regret the uncertainty a waitlist entails for applicants. Students who have been waitlisted for capacity should let the SSP know in writing as soon as possible (e-mail or regular mail) whether they wish to remain on our waitlist. SSP will contact the applicant if a space opens up.
My application was not successful. Can you tell me why?
Admissions decisions are made on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis and are very competitive. Each year many deserving young people are denied a place in the program. Because the admissions committee keeps no notes or minutes of their deliberations, the reasons for their decision cannot be explained. Admissions decisions are final and cannot be reversed.
Academics and registration
I understand that students living on campus must be full-time students. How do you define full-time academic status?
A full-time student is enrolled in 8 credits or in the Secondary School Intensive English Language Program.
Are there any science research opportunities at the Summer School?
Summer seminars offer research opportunities. There are also laboratory science courses offered that will give students the necessary background to do research later.
Can I get approval to miss a class?
No, the SSP office cannot approve any request to miss class. The Harvard summer semester is fast-paced and intensive, and often there is no way to make up for missed class time, which may involve not only instruction but also quizzes, recitation, in-class exercises, and so on. Furthermore, leaving campus overnight during the week is inconsistent with SSP policy, and requests to be away from campus on a weeknight are seldom approved.
Also see the Weekends Policy.
When will I receive my grades?
Grades are available online via Summer School online services about two weeks after the close of the academic session. You will need your student ID number and PIN to view and print copies of your grades. Grades are not automatically sent to students at the end of the summer term. You may request official transcripts at no charge by submitting the transcript request form.
How do I petition for permission to enroll in a “restricted course”?
Students can complete the Special Enrollment Request form, which becomes available as one of the SSP forms in late February, before course registration begins.
Transcripts and transfer credit
I attended the SSP last summer and am now applying to colleges. How can I have a transcript sent to the colleges I’m applying to?
Order a transcript for each college to which you would like one sent. Fill out the transcript request form.
I’m in college now and want to transfer the Harvard credits I earned while I was an SSP student. How can I do this?
You will need to check with the registrar’s office at your college or university. That office will almost certainly ask you to provide them with an official Harvard transcript.
Arriving on and leaving campus
I’m flying to Boston, and I wonder how to get to the Harvard campus. Will someone pick me up at the airport?
You are responsible for getting yourself to campus. Transportation from Logan Airport to Harvard is safe, fast, and easy. Taxi is the preferred carrier, especially for those with heavy luggage. The cab ride costs $35 to $40 and takes 15 to 20 minutes. Public transportation takes longer, but costs only $2.50; the Silver Line will take you from the terminal directly to the Red Line, which goes directly into Harvard Square. (The subway involves a transfer, which is why we recommend a taxi.) Also see Directions.
Where should I tell the cab driver to take me?
If you will be living on campus, details on where to go once you arrive are included with housing information. You will receive an e-mail directing you to the information after your housing is assigned. Also see Directions.
May I arrive after Opening Weekend?
No. We regret that we are unable to permit late arrival to the Secondary School Program. Arriving as late as Sunday mid-afternoon is all right, as there is still time to check in, find your room, and attend evening orientation activities. Arriving later, especially into the first week of classes, makes things unmanageable for the student, as well as for roommates, proctors, and faculty. Additionally, missing a class during the first week of the summer term can make catching up and doing well in a course impossible.
What if I arrive late during Opening Weekend?
Travel to campus should be scheduled so students can check in Saturday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., or Sunday between noon and 4 pm
Note: If arriving Sunday, checking in before 3 p.m. is highly recommended.
May I arrive late if my New York Regents exam conflicts with the first week of classes?
Regrettably, we cannot approve a request to miss a class because of an exam that must be taken off campus. In fact, SSP cannot approve any request to miss a class. Class attendance is a general Harvard Summer School requirement. The Harvard summer semester is fast-paced and intensive, and often there is no way to make up for missed class time, which may involve not only instruction but also quizzes, recitation, in-class exercises, and so on. One summer class may represent a week or two of class time during a fall or spring term. See Weekends Policy for more information.
However, there is another option. If you are able to arrive in Cambridge during Opening Weekend, settle in, attend the Sunday evening student orientation, go to your first classes, go home and take your New York State Regents exams, and return to campus without missing any class meetings, your request for an overnight absence will likely be approved. After you arrive on campus, go over your plan with your SSP assistant dean as soon as possible. (You will meet your dean during the Sunday evening orientation, if not before.) Your dean will need to know 1) when you will leave, 2) how you will travel, 3) where you will go, and 4) when you will return. Remember that your plan should ensure that you do not miss any class meetings.
May I leave campus for an overnight stay with family or friends?
Like college students, SSP students are not restricted to campus. Having dinner off campus with a parent or friend is okay on any night. Going away and sleeping off campus overnight, however, requires approval of an SSP assistant dean. Details of the SSP overnight leave policy are spelled out on the Weekends Policy page and in the student handbook, which is available to students when they arrive on campus and online before the summer term begins.
My high school begins in August before the end of the exam period. May I leave Harvard early to start the fall term back home?
You may leave campus immediately after your last exam. In exceptional cases, students who cannot be in Cambridge at the time of a final examination may petition to take the exam in absentia.
I’m making my travel arrangements. When may I plan to leave campus?
Students often leave campus within a few hours of their last final exam.
Will I need any kind of ID for Opening Weekend check-in?
Yes. To check in and receive your Harvard ID card, you will need to show a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport, driver's license, or state-issued identification card.
If I arrive on campus early on Opening Weekend, before my roommates arrive, do I get to choose which bed is mine for the rest of the summer?
No. On Opening Weekend, SSP students wait until all their roommates have arrived before determining who settles in which bedroom and sleeps in which bed. This is an excellent way to get to know your roommates and, from the outset, to develop a way to work together constructively to resolve differences. If you (or your roommates) ever need help resolving a dispute, you should seek guidance from your proctor.
May I choose my roommates?
No. We try to make the SSP experience as much like a first-year college experience as possible, and part of that experience is learning to live with new people.
May I know my roommates’ names and home addresses before Summer School begins?
No. Releasing this information would be inconsistent with FERPA. Furthermore, housing assignments are being made and changed right up until the time students arrive at Harvard.
May a friend visit or stay overnight in my dorm?
Yes, under certain circumstances. Prior approval for an overnight guest must be sought and received by the Wednesday before a visit on a Friday or Saturday night (only). Once you arrive on campus, your student handbook will provide further details.