The above question is one I was quite concerned with around this time last year. Coming straight to HGSE from undergrad, I wasn’t sure how well I would fit in here. Was I old enough? Did I have sufficient knowledge of educational philosophies? Did my personality fit the “Harvard norm?” I had this idea that everybody in grad school would be academically rigorous, have tons of work experience, and know exactly what they wanted to do in life. I was also afraid that HGSE students would be overly serious about their work, having little concern for the recreational side of life, such as exploring Boston or holding weekend get-togethers.
To be fair, there are many people here with these characteristics. In fact, I would say that the underlying common trait of HGSE students is that we’re driven by some sort of impassioned vision of the future. However, our passion by no means equates to “having figured out life” (whatever that means). When it comes down to it, HGSE students are not exceptional because of some innate ability or uncanny understanding of the world; they are exceptional because they think, work hard, and, to some extent, understand the concept of social responsibility. These qualities, although not always easy to embody, are ultimately acquired by choice, not birth.
So, do you belong at HGSE? My answer: it’s your choice. There is nothing about a person’s background that explicitly defines where they do or don’t belong. There are only frames of mind that we employ in the present. If you want to spend 10 months critically engaged with education, learning from peers, and acquiring invaluable theories and skills to take into the world, then you belong at HGSE. There are people of all types here. I know you will fit in.