Student Spotlight: Rithvik Rao and Early Admission into Harvard!

Over the past 10 years, Mr. Hamilton and our team have helped more than 100 students gain admission into Harvard. This year 6,630 students applied Early Action, and only 964 were accepted. We are proud to say that 5 of the 9 students in San Diego that were admitted early to the Harvard Class of 2022 were HCC students!

With such hard odds, our students’ unique accomplishments are what helped them stand out among the thousands of talented applicants. We sat down for a few minutes with one of HCC’s all-star students, Rithvik Rao, to talk about how he got into Harvard.

A little bit about Rithvik:

Rithvik is a student at Canyon Crest Academy and was accepted into Harvard as an intended Computer Science concentrator. At CCA, Rithvik is an active member and captain of the debate team, as well as president of the computer science and future problem solving clubs.

At HCC, Rithvik participated in our Summer H3 Test Prep program, receiving a perfect score on the ACT and qualifying to be a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist due to his PSAT score. He was also a part of our College Applications Counseling Program, and he currently works at our headquarters as a student employee.

What drew you to Harvard?

(I’m technically not committed… yet!)

  • Harvard stood out to me for a number of reasons. Most important to me was diversity—as someone who comes from a pretty orthodox culture and a community that is largely composed of relatively-similar individuals, the prospect of attending a place that prides itself on diverse people with a wealth of interests is exciting to me. Cambridge is also fantastic, and it seems hard to run out of things to do in the general Boston area. It’s very exciting!

What did you love during your campus visit?

  • I really enjoyed the general atmosphere of the campus! After visiting a lot of colleges, I realized that the “vibe” of the school was a pretty important factor for me in making a college decision, and Harvard fit the bill in that regard. The hustle and bustle, the students sprawled on lawns working on homework problems, and lots of other things were appealing to me. And it was pretty surreal just being at a university that has lasted for literally four centuries—it really gives off this feeling that you’re part of something much bigger than yourself.

What do you think made you stand out in your application?

  • I think my commitment to my extracurricular activities really shone through in my application. In particular, I really tried to tell a story about what Speech & Debate means to me and why I found it so important to get others involved. I also wrote an essay about the importance of cybersecurity and what I have done in that field. I really tried to make my values—what I stand for and what I have done—come through, and I think that happened successfully!

What surprised you about your interview?

  • The interview was quite literally just an informal conversation. The best interview advice I received was to treat an interview like a date—while you’re trying to impress your interviewer, you’re also trying to convey yourself in the best possible light without being overly pushy. My own interview confirmed this advice, and I came out of it pleasantly surprised that I had just had an hour-long conversation with a Harvard alumnus about behavioral economics, the wonderful experiences in Harvard classes, and many other things. I would do it all over again just to have such an engaging discussion!

How did HCC help you accomplish your Early Acceptance?

  • HCC helped me overcome a lot of my initial struggles with putting my ideas into words and telling a story about myself as opposed to submitting bland CV-esque paragraphs to the schools I applied to. My Common App wouldn’t have been half as strong without the guidance of both Jon (my Editing Partner) and Mr. Hamilton. They helped me take my essays to the next level by helping me think through layers that might connect my thoughts to those of prominent thinkers, and they made sure my essays were focused and to the point. I never once had a moment when I was unsure about whether my essays would have the effect I wanted them to have on admissions officers, thanks to all of their help. On a lesser note, they made sure I was on top of deadlines, that I had all the requisite tests, that I was filling out applications correctly, that I was sending scores on time, that I was prepared for interviews, and more. HCC made sure I had done all I could do to have my application interpreted as favorably as possible.

What was your favorite part about College Application process?

  • The College Application process was certainly a slog, but I emerged from it with a better understanding of myself and stronger writing skills. Crafting essays answering the various prompts I had to answer led me to ponder a lot of the bigger ideas behind the things I have done in high school and led me to think of my achievements through the lens of a broader purpose. And now I feel absolutely confident that I can advocate for myself in the future, whether through nailing job interviews or some other opportunity. I would say that, because of HCC, I’ve developed a number of essential skills of this nature—and, of course, I landed an acceptance into the school of my dreams.

Each year, HCC is lucky to work with amazing students like Rithvik in pursuit of achieving their academic dreams. We look forward to hearing about more success from the rest of our College Applications Program class!