Harvard is considered the most prestigious most selective and most elite university in the world.
In this article, I’ll explain the 5 reasons why, year after year, Harvard is always #1 in the most well-known university rankings including U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, and more.
Number one – age matters
The first reason is that Harvard is the oldest university in the world.
It was founded by John Harvard more than 400 years ago and as such holds a special place in our collective hearts and minds.
It is the start of probably the best system of educational institutions in the entire world – the modern university – because it’s the oldest university in the world.
Additionally, it has had plenty of time to accumulate resources and reputation. Its endowment is also the largest among universities, which gives it more money to fund research programs, hire the best professors, build the best facilities, and attract the best students.
Because it’s the oldest university in the world, it also has the largest alumni base, which allows it to help students raise more money, build new facilities, and carry the Harvard brand around the world.
Remember alumni legacies?
Number one – the best bring the best
The second reason why Harvard is ranked number one in everything from BusinessWeek to Time to U.S. News & World Report is because it tends to attract the top academic students year after year.
Notice that I specifically said academic because I think that is one of Harvard’s biggest points of focus.
If you’re a middle or high school student considering applying to Harvard you really need to focus on your academic performance, your GPA, your class rank, your SAT scores, your in advanced placement tests, and your performance.
You should be sure to participate in academic competitions like Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, Math Counts, and so forth.
There are other Ivy League institutions like Brown, Dartmouth, and Princeton which place more importance on nonacademic factors.
Because Harvard does attract the top academic talent, if you look at the very prestigious Westinghouse Intel science talent search, typically the top performers all like to attend Harvard.
The reason for this is that Harvard does have the same sort of focus. It tends to have the highest SAT scores and class ranks towards matriculating freshman class relative to its peers.
Number three – top faculty and staff
The third reason why is because of its faculty and administrative leadership. Harvard tends to attract the top professors because of its reputation, its funding, and its student body.
The best professors in turn are attracted by the most interesting research projects. They win the most Nobel prizes, and they also attract more students who are eager to learn from them.
Additionally, Harvard tends to recruit very prominent and successful leaders. Everyone from Elena Kagan (current Supreme Court Justice) to Larry Summers (top ranking official in the Clinton and Obama administrations) have served in leadership roles at Harvard.
Number four – famous alumni
The final reason that I want to touch upon briefly is related to my first point. Harvard has an incredibly successful alumni base that, in turn, helps its current students with their career ambitions.
This gets Harvard’s name out in the press.
Harvard alumni become prominent CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. They serve prominent leadership positions in government.
For example George Bush had a Harvard MBA. Barack Obama went to Harvard Law school. Meg Whitman was also a Harvard MBA and CEO of EBay.
These prominent leaders really help seal Harvard’s reputation among the academic and business elites. Furthermore, they attract more applicants around the world.
Hope you understand now why Harvard consistently takes up so much mindshare. That’s not to say schools like Stanford or Princeton aren’t amazing, and your decision on which school deserves careful analysis!
Want to attend Ivy League schools? Check out my insider’s course and guide to getting into Harvard, even with a 1360 SAT from a public high school.