Shaquilla - Harvard College - Class of 2016
Until I came across Harvard's precollege summer program, it was not on my college radar. The program allows high school students to take Harvard courses, live on campus, and engage in college preparatory seminars. Thanks to some financial aid support, I was able to attend.
A summer on "the Yard"
While participating in a precollege program doesn't necessarily increase one's chance of admittance, it can give you a glimpse into what you might experience as an undergraduate. Harvard seemed to offer the best of both worlds—on and off Harvard Yard. Students have the option to remain in the "Harvard Bubble" or venture out into Cambridge and Boston. These surrounding cities cater to college students and have amazing public transportation systems. Harvard also has a strong support system to help students make the transition from high school to college more easily.
Never in a million years . . .
I was a little nauseated at the idea of applying to such a selective school. I felt incredibly anxious because I was competing against thousands of students for only a few early action spots.
I never in a million years thought that I would get in. Although some schools release hints about whether or not a student got in, Harvard gave me no such indication. Then on December 15, it happened! I am especially proud because I am the first person from my county to be accepted to Harvard. I hope that I have opened doors for other students who might feel they don't stand a chance against the seemingly unattainable Ivy League.
My ups and downs
I expected my interview to be one of the most stressful parts of applying. For me, however, it was the best part. I met my interviewer at a café in Decatur. After ordering hot chocolate, we began with basic questions (GPA, standardized test scores, etc). As the interview went on, it began to feel like a conversation. I talked about the highlights of my application—my essays and extracurricular activities. Then I explained that although my test scores were low for Harvard, I earned top grades in a demanding course load that included an online AP class and a college class.
I also asked her questions about her experiences at Harvard. Hearing about her transition from a small town to Harvard was reassuring. She also described how the student body is incredibly diverse, giving me the potential to learn from people from all over the world. She made me realize that Harvard isn't on some golden pedestal but is a changing and innovative community made up of people working towards their passions. She also made me realize that Harvard isn't forbidding as it might seem. There are several programs that help students get support by connecting with each other and with faculty members.
But all was not rosy. I was a finalist for a highly competitive scholarship program that focused on government and politics. I worked extremely hard on the application and on preparing for my interview. Winning would have been a great supplement to my application. However, I wasn't selected. I was crushed and lost confidence in myself as a college applicant.
Another low point of the admissions process was being asked if I had gotten in or not. I had become "The Harvard Girl." It was stressful that so many people found out where I was applying.
What I learned
When it came to the essays, I came up with a system that really helped. I listed all of the potential topics and made a map of ideas for each one. The topic with the most ideas was the one I decided to write on. I took it step by step and continually met with my literature teacher for revisions.
I chose the topic "Describe a historical figure that has influenced you." I wrote about Queen Nefertiti. Not only renowned for her beauty, she was also a major cultural influence during her reign. I think this essay stood out because choosing her was unusual and I made connections between her life and mine. I began my essay with an anecdote about my first "encounter" with Nefertiti!
The money factor
Harvard's policies regarding aid are generous and far-reaching. Their aid is the major reason I can attend. I have also applied for several scholarships and am looking into getting a work-study job.
I am profoundly grateful for all of the help I have received to get to this point. When you apply to a college, make sure you say thank you to all of the teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and friends who stuck with you.
Road To College
Student Stories - 2017
- Kirsten - University of Arizona - Class of 2017
- Josh - Dartmouth College - Class of 2017
- Christina - UC Davis - Class of 2017
- Brandon - University of Delaware - Class of 2017
- Jessica - SUNY Geneseo - Class of 2017
- Timothy - Morehouse College - Class of 2017
- Neha - Washington U. in St. Louis - Class of 2017
- Kim - DePaul University - Class of 2017
- Josh - Tufts University - Class of 2017
- Amanda - Colgate University - Class of 2017
- Tina - U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Class of 2017
- Adam - Augustana College (SD) - Class of 2017
Student Stories - 2016
- Alejandra - Ohio State University - Class of 2016
- Emma - College of William and Mary - Class of 2016
- Jess - Binghamton U. / Cornell University - Class of 2016
- Leyth - Pomona College - Class of 2016
- Michael - Northeastern University - Class of 2016
- Molly - Vassar College - Class of 2016
- Shaquilla - Harvard College - Class of 2016
- Tlalli - Yale University - Class of 2016
- Pablo - Amherst College - Class of 2016
- Kathleen - UC Berkeley - Class of 2016
- David - Vanderbilt University - Class of 2016
Student Stories - 2015
- Brenna - Iowa State University - Class of 2015
- Candace - U. of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill - Class of 2015
- Andrew - Penn State University Park - Class of 2015
- Nick - Georgetown University - Class of 2015
- Stephen - University of Pennsylvania - Class of 2015
- Stephanie - Stanford University - Class of 2015
- Jeremy - Boston University - Class of 2015
- Amy - Hillsdale College - Class of 2015
- Maggie - UCLA - Class of 2015
- Joseph - University of Vermont - Class of 2015
Student Stories - 2014
- Alexander - U. of Colorado Boulder - Class of 2014
- Alexandra - Indiana U. Bloomington - Class of 2014
- Gabrielle - Furman University - Class of 2014
- Linda - Grinnell College - Class of 2014
- Mario - Cal Poly Pomona - Class of 2014
- Matt - Carleton College - Class of 2014
- Michael - University of Maryland - Class of 2014
- Monica - Hiram College - Class of 2014
- Obianuju - The College of New Jersey - Class of 2014
- Philip - American University - Class of 2014
- Leslie - Wesleyan University - Class of 2014
Student Stories - 2013
- Jessica - Wellesley College - Class of 2013
- Jason - Univ. of Michigan - Class of 2013
- Daniel - Yale University - Class of 2013
- Melanie - Colby College - Class of 2013
- Anthony - University of Pittsburgh - Class of 2013
- Claire - Johns Hopkins University - Class of 2013
- David - University of Chicago - Class of 2013
- Eric - UC San Diego - Class of 2013
- John - Pomona College - Class of 2013
- Umbar - Cornell University - Class of 2013
- Kira - Swarthmore College - Class of 2013
- Joelle - Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison - Class of 2013
- Mark - Union College - Class of 2013
- Uddit - U.S. Air Force Academy - Class of 2013
- Julia - University of Florida - Class of 2013
- Justin - University of Georgia - Class of 2013
- Stacy - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - Class of 2013
- Briton - Hobart College - Class of 2013
Student Stories - 2012
- Roy - Calif. Maritime Acad. / UC Irvine - Class of 2012
- Kirsten - Chapman / UC Davis - Class of 2012
- Ashley - Mount Holyoke College - Class of 2012
- Marquis - Princeton University - Class of 2012
- Pauline - Seattle University - Class of 2012
- Sundiata - Univ. of Mass. Amherst - Class of 2012
- James - Villanova University - Class of 2012
Student Stories - 2011
Student Stories - 2010
- Daniela - Bates College - Class of 2010
- Renata - Brown University - Class of 2010
- Megan - Denison University - Class of 2010
- Catlin - Harvard College - Class of 2010
- Catherine - Reed College - Class of 2010
- Matthew - Syracuse University - Class of 2010
- Danielle - UCLA - Class of 2010
- Stephanie - University of Illinois - Class of 2010
- Sam - University of Washington - Class of 2010
- Jeffrey - Washington and Lee Univ. - Class of 2010
Student Stories - 2009
Live Well and Prosper