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I made a joke over the weekend about how I couldn’t make my bed because I’m really busy as a full time student. My snide elicited pity laughter at the very least, but it got me thinking about how being a student has been my job day in and day out for the last 15 years of my life…and I’m not at all sick of it! Wouldn’t it be the best if students got pensions??

My peers and I are truly full time students – even on weekends and during vacations. When we’re not in class, we may be working to save money to invest in our education, or we may be in labs building both fundamental and advanced skills to directly apply to classes, or we may be eagerly awaiting highly intellectual conversations so we can casually bring up the coolest concept from our recent lecture. Regardless of our extra-curriculars,  we’re full time students. Personally, one of the most thrilling yet high-pressure aspects of attending Harvard is that I represent Harvard when I meet people. I feel like if people aren’t familiar with the institution, their impressions of me will either positively or negatively influence their perceptions of Harvard…scary!

Fellow blogger, Jesse, was at the event too!

My last post ended with how excited I was to attend the Harvard Club of San Diego’s Early Admit celebration. The undergraduate college has recently reinstated Early Action and a bunch of high school students are taking advantage of it! I sure wish there was Early Action when I was applying! Anyway, I was rightfully excited about the event as it was cool to finally meet people behind all the local club’s emails and also see how eager-nervous the newly admitted students are. It was a great event where newbies could ask questions to both current students and alumni, as well as have current students share with each other about their current experiences. I met and caught up with a lot of great people and had so much fun that I went to another event later that week! It was a Happy Hour get together for alum in the area and the turnout was super diverse! There were people who were in school while I was in school, but we had just never met. There were people who were the high school teacher of my current friends in college. I was essentially drooling over everyone’s cool stories. Since I was the only current student present at the event, there was a lot of interest in discussing how the university is in its current day – there wasn’t always OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, explained further below) or finals before winter break!

This past winter break, I dedicated a fair amount of my time studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – basically a standardized test that all students who want to pursue medical school must take. When I originally tried registering for the test, there were no open spots in Boston or California for the January dates, so I figured I’d have to take the test after Spring Break, which definitely wouldn’t have been an ideal situation. Yet, the MCAT decided to give me an early birthday present this past December, meaning when I checked the MCAT registration site again, there were open testing spots at a test site just 3 miles away from my dorm room! Winter break was the only time I spent preparing for the test, although I’ve technically been preparing my whole life while taking all these classes and whatnot. I’m not an advocate of spending tons of money to prepare for standardized tests – this includes SATs, ACTs, AP tests, etc. as well. My plan of attack included reading some review books and practicing questions. Yet there’s something about being home that makes me extremely lazy and unproductive. The comforts of home is definitely not conducive to productivity, but it was especially nice for my parents to see me study hard so they know I’m actually working hard at school across the country.

Harvard has this week called OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, pronounced “Oh, wow!”) which is the week right before the spring semester starts. Students are allowed to return to campus early with most meals provided. Although I didn’t participate in any of the planned activities, I was able to utilize my quiet room and the Harvard libraries to catalyze my MCAT studies. T-day (test day) finally came and my nerves were way worse than the test!! I’ve never been so freaking nervous. Hopefully, when the scores come out in a month, I’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂

Being a premedical student at Harvard is … interesting to say the least. I feel like there are pros and cons with this decision at every university, but the extremes of these factors are dramatically emphasized alongside the brand of Harvard. I think I feel a lot more pressure to attend a top medical school and be successful due to the fact that my bachelors degree comes from Harvard; yet I sometimes rationalize this concomitant, heightened pressure with the fact that I am so lucky to have tons of resources at my fingertips – this goes from amazing faculty and graduate students, as well as friendly and knowledgeable advisers! There’s also this (mis?)conception that Harvard students are more intense – we stab each other in the back and are just obnoxiously competitive. I can’t say that all of the above isn’t true, but I really, truly, deeply don’t think that we’re evil. Whenever I seek advice about a class or need help understanding a concept, my friends are always willing to sit down with me, even when I’m impatient, rude, and using a mean voice! We’re a community, and a community that I’m proud and happy to be a part of!

As junior spring begins (snowy!), I have the majority of my requirements finished. The weird thing is I haven’t taken a lot of intro classes like genetics and physical science, so I’m creepily excited to make a lot of freshman friends this semester. Let’s just hope that I’m not being presumptuous by assuming that freshmen want to be my friend in the first place…

My next post will be a list of the classes I’ll be taking this spring. I’m currently driving myself crazy because enrolling in 6 classes currently seems both a possible and desirable option…

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I’m halfway done with college – I hate admitting this and hate hearing it more. My loathing stems from the general consensus that time passes by too quickly. Wow, I feel so old just typing that.

The Yard & John Harvard Statue with more visitors during commencement than normal; welcome!

As my sophomore academic year ended, I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) believe another phenomenal senior class would be graduating from the college. First and foremost, they all deserve a grand CONGRATULATIONS – no banner, no matter how large, will ever be able to accurately convey the prodigious pride that they have instilled not only in themselves, but also in their family, friends, and even acquaintances. The graduating class of 2012 has – and will continue to – permanently imprint their intellect and kindness both on and off campus. President Faust eloquently and succinctly delineates the greatness of 2012 in her commencement speech [here] – while reading this, I shamelessly freaked out about her how AWESOME her closing line is!! Referencing Call Me, Maybe definitely captures part of Harvard’s culture as this track has conquered campus, infiltrating into the playlist of every (good) party, Housing Day videos, and of course, athletic teams.

 

Fun fact (that I think is true): Class Banners are only presented a few special times – Convocation, Commencement & Reunions!

 

After freshman year at the

Convocation and Commencement happen in the same place: between Memorial Church & Widener Library

undergraduate college, students are officially considered “upperclassmen” as we move into our upperclassmen houses (dorms). This “House Life” definitely lends itself to increased interaction with the older (and wiser) kids on campus. Therefore, I definitely feel much closer to this year’s senior class. In fact, many of them were instrumental in my decision to become premed my freshman spring semester. Needless to say, I’ve gotten pretty reminiscent and have been watching class day/commencement speeches these past few hours – perhaps trying to prematurely absorb and apply the wisdom being imparted. To my surprise, some of my favorite speeches weren’t celebrities, but rather students – students speaking about failures and disappointments: Molly O’Connor Fitzpatrick, Scott Alan Levin-Gesundheit, Jacqueline Rossi, and Steven Maheshwary. As depressing as this may seem, it’s hard to talk about something without mentioning its evil twin. So on the glorious day where we rejoice in our successes, we must also acknowledge how our failures have brought us here.

 

A wider view of the stage where all the speeches take place

Mentioning “Harvard,” more often than not, triggers an overwhelmingly popular misconception that its students are nothing other than absolute perfection. As much as I’d love for this perception to be completely true, it’s really not. In fact, we’re trying to build upon ourselves and improve constantly. This drive to strive for not just more but better is how I like to characterize “Harvard.”

During the last week of this past spring semester, I participated in an Admissions Focus Group where current students and the Director of Digital Communications collaborated on how to basically market Harvard through the power of the internet. It’s slightly unintuitive that Harvard needs to market at all, but it is really important to inculcate to applicants that Harvard is not beyond reach. Personally, I’d like to see the prioritization of humbling Harvard so that interested and prospective students are more open to applying rather than being too intimidated to sit at the table and gamble. The focus group discussed everything from our website and its ease of navigation, Visitas (prefrosh weekend), & decision letters and its wording in personalized letters and phone calls – and more importantly how all these factors compared to other institutions.

Although I really should have been studying for finals and packing my belongings, it was really inspiring to participate in the focus group and how much hard work goes on behind the scenes. In the midst of hectic semesters, it’s all too easy to get caught up in how hard you’re working and neglect the diligence of others. However, I feel much more motivated when I know that those around me are working hard too – and this includes the faculty and staff! I’ll call it the Peer Pressure Syndrome when you work hard because everyone around you is too!

 

**Photo credits to Harvard Magazine!

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Visitas Weekend has finally come! Every April, Harvard opens its gates to the admitted students for a jam-packed weekend full of diverse events, great food, and incredible conversations. This is an important weekend because the admitted students have to make the decision of where to spend their college careers. It’s an exciting time of college exploration and finding out if Harvard is right for you.

My favorite part about this weekend is meeting the Admitted Students- or as we call them at Harvard- the “Pre-Frosh.” Current students get the chance to host Pre-Frosh in their dorms during Visitas in order for a chance to see what it’s really like to go to Harvard. Hosts are also there to provide any kind of advice, guidance, or past experiences to help the Pre-Frosh make their decision. I signed up for 3 and I can’t wait to pick them up and show them around once they get here!

Another one of my favorite parts of this weekend is that Presencia Latina falls on the Friday of Visitas. Harvard’s Presencia Latina is a spectacular Latin Arts Showcase where groups from across the Harvard, Cambridge, and Boston communities can come together to celebrate the Latin culture. I really hope some of my Pre-Frosh can make it to the show! I was at Dress Rehearsal last night until the early morning so I know the show is going to be a great one, as always.

Another reason why this year is so special is because Presencia Latina has reached it’s 10th Year! That’s an entire decade of Latin Arts. I really appreciate that Harvard gives us the resources and space to celebrate a culture that means so much to me and I know that we’ll continue sharing this beautiful culture for years to come! That was one of my concerns about coming across the country to college- I thought I would lose my culture. Luckily, Harvard provides a ton of opportunities to celebrate the culture you grew up in as well as learn of the diverse set of cultures that make up Harvard’s student body. This weekend will be unforgettable.

To get a look in to what last year’s Presencia Latina looked like, check out this video!

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Spring has finally arrived on campus, and here in the Admissions Office we’re excited about the Class of 2016 and what the coming weeks will bring.  It’s been a week since we mailed decisions, and the action never seems to end around here.  So what do we do when we’re not reading applications?   Good question!  The month of April is when we emerge from hibernation and exchange reading and committee meetings for new projects.  A few of the things we’ve been up to:

Our colleagues in the Financial Aid Office are working 8am-8pm daily with families to calculate financial aid awards and help with questions.  We want to do everything we can to make a Harvard education affordable for families, and we’re really proud of the personal attention and care we put into financial aid for admitted students.

Our travel coordinators are working to organize presentations all over the US next month with our Exploring College Options Program, a travel consortium we participate in with great colleagues from Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University.  Check out the Harvard in Your Hometown page to learn of upcoming presentations near you next month.

We’ve also been hard at work reaching out to students and families and planning for our Visitas Program for admitted students later this month.  April is one of my favorite months in the admissions cycle because it’s the time when we work most closely with undergraduates.   The undergrads can’t wait to welcome the Class of 2016 to campus and have been hard at work planning well over 100 events for the weekend and signing up to be student hosts.  Last weekend, student representatives of the Undergraduate Admissions Council (UAC), the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program (UMRP) , and the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI)  programs got together for our biannual Call-A-Thon to reach out and congratulate our admitted students.  All of our undergraduate volunteers had a blast eating pizza and having great conversations with students and families.  Some Call-A-Thon photos below!

 

Mike giving instructions over pizza from Bertucci's– yum!

 

Gathering for call assignments

 

Happy callers! (and a background shoutout to Jeremy Lin!)

Big smiles and much congratulations to the Class of 2016!

 

Stay tuned for lots of great stuff from our bloggers in coming weeks, who will be talking about some of their favorite aspects of campus life.  If you have any requests of topics to cover, let us know in the comments section.  And if you haven’t had a chance to see Shaun’s video What is Harvard Like yet, check it out!

 

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Hey everyone! This week’s post is different than normal; I decided to take some photos and collect some information about Freshman Housing at Harvard. It’s known around the country for being incredible, as you’ll find out while reading this post. Click on an image to enlarge it, click on a title to find out more information, and enjoy the post! If you would like another resource, click here to be redirected.

 

 

Harvard freshmen all live on campus around Harvard Yard, the central location of Harvard College. There are four “yards” which encompass various dorms, all of which have their perks. When you’re a sophomore, you live in a House (or the Dudley co-op, if you so choose) until you graduate, but this post is only about freshman housing…perhaps I’ll feature upperclassmen housing next year. If you’re interested in learning about how the housing process works, check this out; otherwise, keep reading!

IVY YARD:

Apley Court

Apley Court is known for huge suites, marble bathtubs, and its distinct location between the Yard and River houses.

Not a dorm, but Holden Chapel, my favorite building in the Yard

 

 

Hollis

Yay, Hollis! Suites, which are only doubles, are absolutely gigantic.

Holworthy

I personally love Holworthy, mostly because of their awesome (yet again giant) suites and their common room, which is the best on campus in my opinion.

Lionel

 Lionel’s twin is Mower. I get them confused. There are only 40 residents, and each suite has a private bathroom!

Mass Hall

Mass Hall is incredible, with around 14 freshman living there, because it also houses President Faust.

Mower

Lionel’s twin, home of one of my favorite people, is both adorable and tiny.

Straus

Straus, home of my future roommate (!), is awesome. It’s in a private yard, has lovely rooms, and really cool staircases (things you notice when living in Canaday).

Stoughton

Stoughton! Home of more great people, this dorm is awesome because it looks like it is split in two. Other reasons include huge doubles and ideal location to run Primal Scream.

CRIMSON YARD:

Union Dorms!

Union dorms (Pennypacker, Greenough, and Hurlbut) are “far away;” that is, they are really close to Lamont,

and about as far as Straus to Annenberg. Also, because they’re farther away, there’s more space to have better rooms.

Hurlbut

Despite its gross name, Hurlbut is gorgeous. The suites are huge, and there are many “pod systems” comprised of luxurious singles around a big common room.

Pennypacker

Pennypacker, home of the radio station WHRB, has in-suite bathrooms in each room, a central staircase, and tons of dorm pride.

Greenough

Greenough has hardwood floors and huge suites. Enough said.

Wigglesworth

 

Wigg is where it’s at! This incredibly long dorm has the best practice rooms, where I spend most of my time, and has spacious suites to boot. You’re very close to all of what Harvard Square has to offer!

 

OAK YARD

Canaday

Canaday is my dorm! As a resident, I can honestly say that it is the ugliest dorm on campus, rivaling Mather (an upperclassmen house). The good things of Canaday include our own courtyard, proximity to everything (it takes me less than one minute to walk to class), heightened security (riot-proof building…but that’s not actually a plus to living in Canaday), and most importantly, the GIANT windows. I live in the common room, though, so that might effect how I see the world (pun).

Thayer

Thayer is awesome. I love it. It has the best interior design, with hardwood floors, crown molding, and pale green walls. The rooms are big. My future blockmate and friend since 7th grade lives there. It’s really close to Canaday!

 

ELM YARD

Weld

Dream of Weld. If you like huge common rooms, you’ll love Weld.

Matthews

Matthews also has incredible housing. Pattern? Yes.

Gra

Grays Hall

Grays is known as the Harvard Hilton for a reason. (Hint: best rooms.)

FEATURED ROOMS

I asked around campus in order to find some of the best freshmen dorm rooms Harvard has to offer.

To the class of ’16, you might be lucky next year and end up in one of these sweet suites!

A Weld Room

 

Welcome to the huge common room. Boasting dormers, a hand-made coffee table, and natural light, this common room might be the best in the yard.

 

Pictures from home are displayed on a clothesline in a whimsical fashion.

 

Check out this coffee table, complete with Crimson!

 

A white-board wall is a creative and artistic addition to this lovely room.

 

Both Weld doubles and singles are spacious and well-lit.

 

An Apley Room

This single in Apley Court is enormous, complete with walk-in closet and and hardwood floors.

 

Same room, different angle: check out that closet!

 

This might look like your bathroom at home, if your bathroom had a marble bathtub.

 

Although this room is on the 5th floor, who wouldn't want to ascend that staircase every day?

 

Two Hurlbut Singles

If this room had a superlative, it'd be best-dressed.

 

A not-so-average college dormroom is common place at Harvard!

 

A Grays Room

This spacious common room gets a cozy feel from the christmas lights

Same room, different angle: brick walls add a classic Harvard touch

 

Too Cute to Bear

A Canaday Room

 

This common room, although messy, is well-lit and has colorful touches. (And it's where I live!)

 

A Canaday single may be smaller than some, but it's cozy and guaranteed to be yours (or in this case, my roommate Helen's) for at least a semester.

 

Canaday rooms make you incredibly happy, as displayed by my roommate Rachel.

 

THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING! I HOPE YOU ENJOYED GETTING TO KNOW A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT HARVARD HOUSING!

 

until next time

-reid

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As Kate said, congratulations to the Class of 2016! I also remember the day I received my acceptance letter–it’s a day that I’ll never forget. My volleyball practices were always from 4 pm to 6:30 pm. And as most of you are aware, admissions decisions are emailed around 5 pm EST. It was hard to focus on volleyball when I knew there was a message waiting for me in my inbox. It didn’t make it any easier that we had an important match the next day, along with a team dinner immediately after practice. As both captain and an upperclassman on the team, I had the responsibility of making sure underclassmen had transportation to and from…well, basically everywhere. After practice, I had a car full of them, but told my teammates that I had to drive home for a minute. They waited in the car as I ran in to my house and closed the door to my room. And there it was. My mom was the only one home at the time. The waterworks began, followed by many phone calls on her end, but I had to run outside and get back to my teammates. There could be more detail to this story, including exactly who was crying and what not, but I’ll save myself the embarrassment. Regardless, congratulations to each and every one of you, and I hope that you’ll reach out to any one of us bloggers if you have any questions about life here on campus.

As far as my life goes, days have been incredibly busy, as they usually are at this time in the semester. With a whole new class of Penguins in Quincy House, we decided to host a public service trip to a local non-profit called Cradles to Crayons for the freshmen who will be living here next year. We thought it would be a nice thing to do to get to know each other while helping others at the same time. Cradles to Crayons is an organization that  “endeavors to provide homeless and low-income children with the essentials they require to thrive – to feel safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued.”  Volunteers work for two-hour shifts, sorting and inspecting incoming items, such as books, outfits, and toys. They also fill orders that meet the needs of individual boys and girls in their local communities.Representatives from the Philips-Brooks House Association, as well as members of the Quincy House administration and House Committee (HoCo) went and all had a great time.

Cradles to Crayons

Our sorted bags at Cradles to Crayons!

Speaking of HoCo (each of the undergraduate upperclassmen houses have a House Committee that plans house events like formals, study breaks, and other events to foster community and make the house a fun place to live), our Housemasters, Lee and Deb, invited the 2011 and current members of HoCo, along with our advisor Kate, for dinner at their house this weekend. They ordered Thai food and served ice cream as dessert! Quincy House has the best administration on campus. They truly go out of their way to support their students. Lee and Deb make sure our voices are heard, as well as hold events for all of their students, inviting us to their home for Master’s Open Houses with delicious desserts. Even though it’s a ways away from those of you who will be attending here next year, I hope you all get sorted into Quincy House come next Housing Day!

2011 and 2012 Quincy House Committees

2011 and 2012 Quincy House Committees

 

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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FUTURE CLASS OF 2016! With an all-time low acceptance rate of 5.9%, you guys are true all-stars.  No, but actually, I already feel intimidated by how awesome you all must be.

I remember getting my acceptance email – it was April Fools Day, and I was convinced that Harvard (or life) was going to play some sort of horrible joke on me.  In addition to my family, which is already quite large… I’m the oldest of five, my grandparents were in town, and so the whole house was waiting in anticipation for me to get my decision from Harvard.  Finally, I just couldn’t take the pressure, and I walked to the local public library, where (prepare yourself for the nerdiness to come…) I’d always gone as a kid when I needed to get out of the house/ relieve stress.

It was on the steps of the public library where I opened my acceptance on my phone and literally had a Rocky Balboa-on-top-of-the-stairs moment.  It was an awesome little celebration with me, myself, and I.

All this to say that you all should really congratulate yourselves.  Seriously, give yourselves a hug.  Take a moment to feel like the luckiest kid in the world.  You are one in a million…. Well, more like one in about 595,000 (about 17% of the world’s population of 7 billion is 18 and under… 2,032 of you got accepted into Harvard… you can feel free to correct me on the math).  You are literally more likely to die from slipping in the bathtub (one in 2,232), win an Academy Award (one in 11,500), or find a four-leaf clover on the first try (one in 10,000).

And speaking of celebrations, I had one of my own last week – my 20th birthday!  Now, I’d like to preface this by saying that I never make a big deal out of my birthday.  Quite frankly, I don’t really get it.  It’s not like I’ve been cruising along for an entire year and then CABAM!—all of a sudden, 365 days later I’m a year older, and I’m some how dramatically different than I was the day before.  I’ve been getting a little bit older every single day.  March 29th just happens to be another one of those days.  Plus, 20-years-old doesn’t mark much of anything other than the repeated comments from my younger siblings about how old I am now.

But March 29th came along and all of a sudden, despite the fact that I had told virtually no one about my birthday, I felt like a celebrity!  I awoke to flowers, courtesy of my friend Jackie, outside my door!  Next, I received a cupcake from my friend Elan, a chocolate decadence cake from my friend Cici, biscotti from my roommate Amy, sugar cookies from my grandma, and a yellow cake from my mom!  I also was stopped by multiple friends on the sidewalk for impromptu birthday hugs and congratulations!  I felt like I’d won the lottery by turning just another day older (and maybe I had… see the statistic above about dying by slipping in the bathtub).

Flowers left by my friend Jackie– there's a princess balloon!

So anyway, that was the big event of last week.  Otherwise, I just had my standard meetings and a Macroeconomics midterm on Wednesday.

Stay happy out there!

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Hi, everyone!  Today’s a big day for us in the Harvard Admissions Office– the day we mail our decisions to our Regular Decision applicants.  We will also e-mail admissions decisions to applicants today at 5pm EST.

The Committee has put a tremendous amount of time and energy into the admissions process over the past few months, and it’s hard to believe another cycle is coming to an end.  In both the Early Action and Regular Decision admissions processes, we were impressed, humbled, and inspired by the thousands of incredible students who shared their lives and accomplishments with us this year.  We work hard to get to know each of you through your applications and to put together a class of students who will learn from each other and take advantage of the unique opportunities and special community here at Harvard.  And today’s the day when we can finally step back and celebrate the Class of 2016.

This afternoon, the office gathered together to partake in one of our most cherished and long-standing traditions: loading the mail truck.  Who knew that heavy-lifting was part of an Admissions Officer’s job?!  For me, standing side-by-side with my colleagues carrying letters is a wonderful reminder year after year of just how many people work together to make this day happen.   “A real labor of love”– Dean Fitzsimmons calls it, and everyone here at 86 Brattle would agree.

To all students hearing from colleges over the next few weeks, we wish you the very best of luck.  Take time to do your research, talk to students, visit campuses.  College is a rewarding journey, and choosing your home for the next 4 years is an important and exciting decision.

To Harvard College’s Class of 2016, congratulations!!  We hope we’ll see you at our Visitas Program for admitted students in mid-April. In the meantime, feel free to reach out with questions.  We are always happy to hear from you!

Big Smiles Sealing Admit Letters

Loading the Mail Truck

 

 

A Glimpse of the Assembly Line

 

 

The Cake Says It All… Congratulations!

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Today was a busy day in the Admissions Office: the culmination of a year of hard work. Decision letters were loaded onto the mail truck this afternoon and decision emails will be sent at 5pm EST.

It’s a tradition in the Harvard Admissions Office that everyone helps to load all the letters into the mail truck. Here you see some of the fun we had today – sealing all the packages and then our  assembly line of admissions officers, financial aid officers, staff members, faculty and student workers passing bin after bin of letters.

To give you a sense of the sheer volume we lifted this morning: 34,947 applications = 132 buckets and trays of mail!

 

 

 

It might be a lot of work, but this is one of the best days of the year for us. We’ve all taken a lot of time getting to know our admitted students over the past couple of months and we’re excited to send you the great news of your acceptance.

We look forward to seeing you on campus – ideally for Visitas in mid-April and next fall! In the meantime, take the time to ask us questions and use every resource to learn more about Harvard.

We want to congratulate the students being admitted today. You should be proud of your accomplishments. Welcome to the Class of 2015!

Warmest Wishes,
The Committee on Admissions at Harvard College

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