Author Topic: How to Get Into Harvard  (Read 1879 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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How to Get Into Harvard
« on: July 01, 2014, 12:02:39 am »
How to Get Into Harvard
Simple advice from the president of America's most venerable university
DAVID A. GRAHAMJUN 30 2014, 6:47 PM ET

ASPEN, Colo.—Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. But what about how to get into the nation’s most venerable university?

For ambitious high-school students today, the formula for getting into that reach school can seem just as simple. The conventional wisdom is that keeping your head down in the single-minded pursuit of qualifications is the path to success. It makes every election for every tiny organization a heated battle and makes classes almost an afterthought. Every hour not spent in class is spent building a formidable resume: student council, National Honor Society, captaining the football or volleyball teams, and joining a dozen other student organizations. Of course, that isn't to say that a 4.0 with a raft of AP classes isn't still essential.

Do all of that and you'll get into Harvard, right? Well...

“We could fill our class twice over with valedictorians,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival, sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, on Monday. That means admissions officers rely on intangibles like interesting essays or particularly unusual recommendations to decide who comprises the 5.9 percent of applicants who get in.

Gilpin’s top tip for raising a Harvard man or woman: “Make your children interesting!”

For parents and students alike, that’s both good news and bad news. The bad news is that of course it’s much easier to say that than to actually make it happen, though Faust recommended encouraging children to follow their passions as a way to develop an interesting personality. It’s much easier to complete a checklist, however daunting, than to actually be interesting.

But the good news is that when colleges use this set of criteria, kids can focus on shaping their teenage years in a way that isn’t just about trying to building up resume line after resume line, and instead focus on a more holistic sense of self. That seems like a far more sensible way to move through high school than spreading oneself too thin trying to get a slew of positions one can’t really ever concentrate on. That encourages a dilettantish approach to learning and society that is just the opposite of what the liberal arts have traditionally tried to encourage.

And there’s another bonus piece of good news: If Junior can get in, he probably doesn’t need to work a job on the side. A full 60 percent of Harvard undergraduates receive financial aid, Faust said, and they’re paying an average of $12,000 per year, against the almost $60,000 tag for tuition, room, and board. That's part of an increasing trend in elite universities. For years, a few dozen have said they meet 100 percent of demonstrated need, but in recent years a few have begun offering completely free tuition to students with family incomes below a certain level. That means that even as the sticker price of attending school has risen to ever-more-dizzying heights, fewer and fewer students are paying that sticker.

These two changes mean that while college education isn't what it was two generations ago, it's also not quite as cutthroat or as unaffordable as it might seem.

Offline Metro

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Re: How to Get Into Harvard
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 03:41:12 am »

It's time to redesign K-16 education.  Institutions like Harvard will follow the revolution. 

Low-income neighborhoods can organize home-school networks using cell phones to complete basic literacy and numeracy by age 8.  From that point forward, whole families can organize new enterprises to simultaneously compete in the global marketplace and accelerate existing grade 4-12 and undergraduate lesson engagement.  By age 21, students in these communities can have the skills and experiences to revitalize their neighborhoods and build stronger families.

I'm not so interested in getting folks into Harvard.  I'd rather the people themselves built 2000 new institutions to outperform it.
Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: How to Get Into Harvard
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2014, 07:30:29 am »

It's time to redesign K-16 education.  Institutions like Harvard will follow the revolution. 

Low-income neighborhoods can organize home-school networks using cell phones to complete basic literacy and numeracy by age 8.  From that point forward, whole families can organize new enterprises to simultaneously compete in the global marketplace and accelerate existing grade 4-12 and undergraduate lesson engagement.  By age 21, students in these communities can have the skills and experiences to revitalize their neighborhoods and build stronger families.

I'm not so interested in getting folks into Harvard.  I'd rather the people themselves built 2000 new institutions to outperform it.
Interesting concept.  But building institutions that work and survive are very hard to do.  Hence my deep appreciation of Harvard.

Offline Metro

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Re: How to Get Into Harvard
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2014, 05:34:42 pm »
I'm not so interested in getting folks into Harvard.  I'd rather the people themselves built 2000 new institutions to outperform it.
Interesting concept.  But building institutions that work and survive are very hard to do.  Hence my deep appreciation of Harvard.

One of my colleagues mentioned that if aliens came and analyzed Harvard, they would find a massive financial engine with a tiny educational mission.

His metaphor fit with earlier lessons I had received on the nature of higher education more broadly.

I can completely understand your appreciation for a place as adaptive and resilient as Harvard has proven itself to be.

I'm also certain that we cannot rely on Harvard (or any other similar organization) to build systems that will liberate the billions of people looking for more opportunities (and the tools to take advantage of them).  No one wishes I was wrong on this point more than I do, but the history of elite education speaks for itself.

Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Kimoyo

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Re: How to Get Into Harvard
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 11:00:33 pm »
I agree a redesign of K-16 is needed.  Institutions for 13-16 are begrudgingly undergoing a change, trying to justify a traditional tuition revenue stream or endowment application while students and parents are increasingly looking for non-traditional options and flexibility.  Meanwhile, amidst expanding corporate attention to the post-secondary, education needs of adults, the "not-for-profits" are inadequately addressing the needs of adult learners who are also important the growth and stability of our families and neighborhoods.

Peace,

Mont