As spring firmly arrives in the UK, 2021 brings with it an additional boost. On top of the welcome return of sunshine and more daylight, the beginning of the end of lockdown has arrived. We are very much looking forward to the opportunity to see you all in person again. Our events team has done a great job adjusting to a virtual world over the last 12 months. In January we even managed to migrate Global Networking Night online, a more complex technological feat than one might have expected and for which Vicky Leung (AB ‘91) and Yuko Thomas (AB ‘95) deserve recognition. Although we are optimistic for a return to in-person events, we continue to follow Harvard’s guidance for events to remain virtual. In the meantime, for those of you a bit bored of video calls and wanting to change up your virtual presence, Harvard-themed video backgrounds are available from the Gazette, Library and Law School: https://apps.vid.harvard.edu/backgrounds
Spring is also a time of nervous excitement for many teenagers (and their parents) waiting for their university application results. We are just days away from Cambridge releasing those decisions for the Class of 2025. In line with the virtual guidance, Visitas will be online and our Schools, Scholarship, and Outreach subcommittee will host a virtual welcome event for admitted applicants and their parents. We have also connected with the British Club on campus who will also host an event for the UK admits. We are extremely grateful for all of our interviewers for their help with the unprecedented number of applicants in the UK. We also had a little help from our friends at the other European clubs who offered UK-experienced interviewers to assist us this year.
The annual Harvard Board Elections also take place every Spring. We would strongly encourage all of our club members to participate and vote during the window between April 1st and May 18th. Having an international presence on both boards is essential for the representation of our large and diverse community. We are therefore delighted to have two candidates running with connections to HCUK. Mark Carney (AB ’87 magna cum laude) has been nominated as an Board of Overseers candidate and Iñigo Sánchez-Asiaín (MBA ’90) as an HAA elected candidate for the Board of Directors.
Finally, we are still looking for volunteers to assist with our strategic planning review. In addition, where the pandemic has brought changes to personal circumstances, we are looking for energetic young alumni to join the Events subcommittee to run the Recent Grads groups. We would like to thank Lauren Ianni (AB ‘12) for her work over the last few years leading Recent Grads.
All the best,
It has been a full year since we have had an in-person event but there is hope that the worst is behind us. The news is mixed. On a positive note, the college is optimistic that all students would return to campus for the coming Fall semester. On the other hand, the moratorium imposed by Harvard on in-person events and international travel for staff members is still in force. More importantly, we at HCUK need to follow UK government guidelines. Events like a reception at the Houses of Parliament, dinner at Emmanuel College, visits by Harvard professors and deans, and interviewers’ evening are still on hold this year. It could be 2022 before we may return to our full slate of events.
Nonetheless, in the first quarter of 2021, we have had some fun events, kicking off with the sold-out New Year’s Quiz Night. This was so popular that we organised another one for the end of March, this time pitting Harvard against Yale, with 14 teams from each side. Capacity was also added as the event initially sold out within 24 hours!
In January, we also hosted our first ever virtual Global Networking Night. Meeting new friends over Zoom, albeit with break-out rooms, is a far cry from the real deal. But we did not want to skip a year and felt that a virtual event could capture some of the spirit of GNN, which is to enable the Harvard alumni community to network. The event was popular and surprisingly effective.
We had some very well-attended events, including a talk on “Astrology Today” by Board member, Dr. Tamara Howard (attended by 80 people), and an interactive presentation on “Building emotional resilience during the pandemic” by Dr. Luana Marques of Harvard Medical School (120 people registered).
We hosted a virtual tour of the Harvard Art Museums in collaboration with Harvard clubs all over Europe, New York and Boston. It was a student-led tour that examined two themes, “The Blue Tour” and “Intimacy in Art”, through several pieces of artwork. The flow and content of the event lent themselves very nicely to the Zoom platform. The event attracted almost 100 attendees from over 10 countries and representing the college and almost all the graduate schools.
Looking forward, we have a speaking event with Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England (hosted by the Harvard Club of Ottawa). Other events are in the pipeline, including a cook-along for children with a Harvard alum who is Cordon Bleu-trained chef and the owner of a Relais & Chateaux property.
Continuing the trend from Early Action applications, Regular applications increased significantly, driven by standardized tests being optional. Harvard received over 57,000 applications worldwide, up from the 40,000 received last year. As announced in December, we were very pleased to report that 20 applicants from the UK were accepted in the early action round.
Regular Admissions Decisions
Admissions decisions for Class of 2025 will be released on 6 April 2021. Decisions are normally released at the end of March, but more time was needed to accommodate the increase in applications. The reply deadline for admitted students will be 3 May 2021.
New Admit Events
The Harvard Alumni Association have advised that all New Admit events must be held remotely this year. As a result, we will host a virtual reception for admitted students and their parents on 17 April 2021. If you interviewed a student who was accepted and you would like to attend the event, please do let us know. 'Visitas' events run by Harvard College for all admitted students will take place remotely from 17-23 April 2021.
2021/22 Admissions Cycle
Harvard has announced that it is extending its standardized testing policy and that testing will be optional for the 2021/2022 Admissions Cycle, meaning that SAT or ACT tests will not be required (“Students who do not submit standardized testing this coming year will not be disadvantaged in the application process”). You can find more detailed information in the Admissions Update on the Harvard Admissions website.
In addition, the College Board has announced that it will no longer be administering the SAT Subject Tests or the optional SAT essay after June 2021. The main SAT test will continue to be offered, but it is up to individual colleges whether they will continue to require the tests going forward.
Thank you again to all of our interviewers who helped us interview the increased applicant pool. All interviews were conducted virtually and we are grateful that everyone adapted so quickly and seamlessly to this new format.
We expect an equally high number of applications next year due to testing being optional, so if you are a Harvard College graduate interested in becoming an interviewer, please contact Verity Langley at email@example.com.
Another Charity Hackathon!
The PS Committee ran its second Charity Hackathon in which volunteers from the Harvard community provided assistance to a charity in examining its value proposition for different target constituencies. We had a good group of Harvard Alums who tried to assist the CEO of the Childhood Tumour Trust. Her biggest challenge is ‘spreading the word’ about the condition which – if spotted early in life – can have some of its symptoms and side effects mitigated. A unique characteristic is the presence – from infancy – of ‘café au lait’ marks on the body.
As a result of that session, I volunteered to ask all Harvard Alums whether they had any business contacts, friends or a good connection at Starbucks? Cafe Nero? Or any of the major coffee chains. We were hoping with the ‘café au lait’ link that one of these businesses might be happy to assist in spreading the word.
We are trying to schedule another Hackathon (with a different charity) toward the end of April – expect a notification earlier in April.
If anyone in the Harvard community has a charity they work with that could use a Hackathon (no fundraising or legal questions), please contact me to discuss.
As ever, if anyone in the community has ideas for Public Service activities we can carry out safely or via Zoom, please contact me!
Joining the HCUK is easy and incredible value for money, and offers an opportunity to stay connected with Harvard and fellow alumni/ae. Benefits include:
Over 30 events a year, with members getting exclusive access to certain events and discounted prices to others (examples include the Harvard-Yale Game, the Emmanuel Dinner at Cambridge, Global Networking Night, the annual Drinks Reception at Parliament, Harvard Krokodiloes a capella performance, the Georgia O’ Keefe Exhibition at the Tate Modern, lectures by visiting Harvard professors, gatherings specifically for recent grads, and events organised by other US university alumni clubs). Also included in the membership is exclusive tickets to sporting events and invites to private art events.
Discounts to How To Academy events.
Discounted access to the facilities of London's Sloane Club in Sloane Square.
Regular opportunities to volunteer, including participating in the April Month of Service, supporting Harvard's outreach activities in UK secondary schools, and for graduates of the college, interviewing undergraduate candidates.