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Harvard Students Left With Questions After Looking at Their Admissions Files

Harvard Students Left With Questions After Looking at Their Admissions Files

“It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous comments about me”

Would you have even wanted to look at your college admissions file? Harvard allows it but students don’t find it very enlightening.

The College Fix reports:

‘It kind of felt as though I was a number’: Harvard students look into their own admission files

Harvard students who get a glimpse into their own records often come away with “more questions than answers,” according to a report in The Harvard Crimson.

Hundreds of students request a peek at their records each month, some motivated by curiosity, others simply to “reassure themselves that they belonged at the College,” according to The Crimson. The college offers students 45 minutes to peruse their records. Unfortunately, for a number of students, “the scrawls on the single-paper summary provide no clear-cut sense for why they received an offer of admission.”

“It’s a lot of coded language—they use abbreviations for some stuff,” one student told The Crimson. “They refer to things I didn’t exactly understand, but you’re not really allowed to ask about it so you’re just sort of left to your own.”

“The parts that were really highlighted in my application were…about me being from another country, Costa Rica,” another student said. “I guess it didn’t cross my mind that that would be such a big deal. But it is—they mentioned it three or four times.”

“It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous comments about me,” the student added, “so in some aspects it did kind of hurt. That really puts a lens on it: do you really deserve to be here?”


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DINORightMarie | December 11, 2017 at 9:52 pm

It reveals that they aren’t looking for academics, they are looking for other factors – in this student’s case, his international status and ethnicity.

Worse than being “just a number” – being reduced to your parts, not the sum of who you are, your individuality.

Not surprising, but amazing the students don’t know this is how the system works. It’s biased and leveled, limiting and dehumanizing.

No wonder the student was left feeling like he/she didn’t belong…………

I once sat on a military promotion board. We were put in a room with stacks and stacks of files and given a deadline for rating all of them. We literally had about two minutes (average) to go through the paper trail of people’s ten-plus year careers and condense it to a very simplified rating scale that could get them promoted, or end their career. Each evaluator was totally free to use whatever criteria they wanted. It was all completely arbitrary. Those unlucky people at the bottom of the pile were lucky to get anything you would consider an evaluation.

I’m guessing college admissions is probably very similar.

I had the good sense to steam open one of my letters of recommendation.

After I’d done so, I found I had no reason to re-seal and send it.