Emma Dwight screamed and cried when she found out she had been accepted into Harvard University.

Emma, this year's proxime accessit at Otumoetai College, found out on Saturday she had been given a place at the second ranked university in the world, starting mid-2014.

The Tauranga teen was about to do some housework on Saturday morning and decided to check her emails before she got started. She saw an email from Harvard and nervously opened it to see the first word - congratulations - heading the message.

"I screamed and cried, it was all so exciting," Emma said.


"I hadn't told anyone I was applying. They knew I was thinking about doing the American thing, but I was intentionally vague on the details because I thought applying was verging on silly and didn't think I'd get in.

"I rang a few teachers to tell them, a lot of them were pretty speechless and one of them even cried."

Emma said she had told family and friends, who overwhelmed with her success as Harvard was known as an exclusive and prestigious university.

Applying for Harvard was originally Emma's mother's idea, after she found a pamphlet for the university while they were in the United States five years ago.

"She ended up throwing it out because the idea sounded ridiculous, but the idea stuck in her head," Emma said.

"I'm a bit nervous about it really bit it's pretty exciting. I think I'll get on okay over there, I'll see my parents twice a year."

Earlier this year, Emma was awarded the University of Auckland Scholarship, which pays for three years of study and an allowance.

Harvard University will pay Emma's entire way through her tertiary study, which she estimated would cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and would leave her better off financially than if she accepted a place locally.

The placement is not a scholarship as, when Harvard selects its students, it does everything it can financially to make sure those people can attend.

Emma said many people did not realise this and it may be why it was uncommon to hear of a New Zealander getting a place at the university.

For the next six months or so, Emma would be travelling with her parents around Europe and America. In this time, she hoped to make a decision on what she would chose to study, but a science degree is likely.