I decided to go to Harvard on Halloween 2012. While most people were scurrying around making last minute costume decisions, I began my quest by stocking up on GRE books at Barnes &. Noble. I gave myself 6 weeks to study and write my personal statements. My advice would be to devote about a month to the application process, so that your thoughts have time to distill. But, even more crucial than time is making sure a program is the right one for you.
I decided to go to Harvard on Halloween 2012. Notice I didn’t say, “decided to apply” to Harvard. There is a difference. I remember reading about the HGSE Arts in Education program and having a very distinct two-part “ah-ha” moment: this program is perfect for me… and I am perfect for it. I knew the gap Harvard would fill in my evolution as an artist and educator and I knew how I would contribute to the cohort. In my opinion, there has to be this two-way connection, much like with a relationship or a job.
If you head into the application process with the perspective that Harvard is an amazing educational institution and you would be lucky to study there, then it probably isn’t the right school for you. Similarly, if you head into a relationship with the wish that the other person will like you back, then it’s probably not the right match. Or if you head into a job interview with the hope that they will hire you, then it’s probably not the right synergy. The first and vital step in the application process is finding a program that provides that reciprocal fit.
Your contributions to the school play a key component in the connection and the only way they can is if you know what you bring to the table. Can you clearly articulate and communicate your vision, experiences, values, perspectives, passions and goals? To me, the weight of your application lays in your ability to artfully craft a picture of where you have come from, how your experiences demonstrate your passion and purpose, what perspectives you bring (and why), how you’ve evolved thus far, what goals you have, why Harvard and why now. Once accepted, Harvard doesn’t remain something outside of yourself, you become part of the Harvard community. So, you have to be crystal clear about how you will fit into, contribute to, and enhance the educational sphere.
I decided to go to Harvard on Halloween 2012. As with any goal or dream, first you must lasso your dream, rein it in so that it is within reach, and then can claim it as yours. There is power in making decisions with conviction because it sets off a course of action that is intentional and specific. Harvard was the only school I applied to, there was no plan B. I’m not saying that applying to one school is good advice, but I say it to illustrate that when something connects with you and speaks to you, then it’s almost as if there is no other option. The word Veritas appears on the Harvard shield, and aptly, during this application period, the best advice I can recommend is to go forth and seek your truth!
Felicia Kamriani is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Arts in Education program. Having been a commercial actress and educator, Felicia is interested in identity formation and how art can facilitate that process.