While I was compiling a list of graduate programs I was going to apply to, I neglected to put down HARVARD (you know, the school I attend now?). I thought that Harvard accepted only extraordinary people. I was too average—a senior majoring in English secondary education at a university in the state of Washington. Harvard wasn’t the school for me.
A friend of mine referred me to the Harvard Graduate School of Education website, specifically the Education Policy and Management program. She was a recent alumni of the education policy and management program at HGSE, and was working for a U.S. Senator. Since we were both from rural towns in the state of Washington, she knew that I wanted to be involved in a space that felt like a family and that would be intellectually stimulating. She pushed me to apply to the HGSE. I decided to add it to my list of places to research.
I wanted to gain multiple perspectives before I clicked submit on my application and on the website, I found a link with the option to connect with an HGSE alumni or current student. The alumni who I was connected with was a student of color in the EPM program. At first, we began communicating via email, but when the application deadline was fast approaching, he offered to communicate via phone. It really helped me to make the decision to apply.
My advice to prospective students is twofold:
1) Connect with alumni and current students
2) Don’t be intimidated by Harvard if you are interested. Besides, your chances of getting in are much higher if you apply.
Ivan Valdovinos is a Master’s in Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management Program. He is a first-generation college student who seeks to develop culturally sensitive intervention programs for underrepresented students.