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13 Reasons Why I Chose Harvard

Coming from a low-income background, I always believed I had two options beyond high school: working and/or going to a state college. I had multiple jobs throughout high school and I couldn’t even imagine paying the sticker price for elite universities, like Harvard. Yet, here I am writing about the journey that brought me here - I’ll tell you why.

1. Application Fee Waiver: The first step to going to college is the application itself. The standard application fee for most colleges ranges from $50-$100, and that for Harvard is $75. However, for Harvard’s application, there was the option to get the fee waived if that cost imposed any financial burden. Thus, I went ahead and applied - there was no harm in trying!

2. Financial Aid: Harvard gave me the most comprehensive and generous financial aid package. Period. It made the most sense to my family as it was a significantly cheaper option than all of my state college options.

3. Campus Jobs: As part of my financial aid package, there is a small “student contribution” that I must make every year. This is often achieved through a term-time job or summer employment. At Harvard, there are many “easy” jobs available on campus, where you can make money while doing your own school work.

4. Neurobiology Concentration: I have always had a keen fascination for the brain and I wanted to join a community of similar-minded individuals. Of the options I had, Harvard housed the most comprehensive neurobiology program - many colleges didn’t even have a “neurobiology” major.

5. Research: In high school, I had the opportunity to conduct research on schizophrenia. Knowing that Harvard has some of the most renowned research facilities, I knew that I would have the freedom and the resources to pursue the kind of research I wanted to. In fact, I am currently a student research assistant in the Sanes Lab at the Center for Brain Science at Harvard.


Sanes Lab desk space in NorthWest Labs

6. Liberal Arts: While I was genuinely fixated on the idea of solely pursuing neuroscience in college, I still wanted the flexibility to be able to explore different fields. Currently, I am pursuing a secondary in economics, a field of study I have never previously had the opportunity to consider.

7. Student-Faculty Ratio: At Harvard, the median class size is 12, and the student-faculty ratio is 7 to 1. These statistics illustrated the fact that Harvard was invested in each student’s individual education.

8. Far from Home: Having lived in California most of my life, I didn’t have the opportunity to explore the four seasons. Harvard was able to provide me the full “east coast experience.”


SEAS buildings in the winter

9. Extracurriculars: There are more than 450 extracurricular groups and there is the option to create your own group if it does not already exist on campus. I had been involved with many organizations throughout high school and didn’t want to lose these connections in college.

10. Beautiful Campus: Prior to receiving my acceptance letter, I did not have the opportunity to visit Harvard. Once I finally got the opportunity to visit the campus, I immediately fell in love with the red bricks and mortar, and the history engraved on every inch of the campus.


Harvard Art Museum entrance

11. Ultimate college vibe: The campus location combines the resources of a cosmopolitan city with the charm of a New England town.

12. The People: Every conversation I had during the visiting weekend for admitted students, Visitas, was truly memorable and enriching. I just knew that these were the people I wanted to share the next four years with.

13. It just felt right - there was no particular reason why.

At the end of the day, college is where I would spend four years of my life. I couldn’t make the decision to commit myself to a school just for its name value. I had to find a place I could truly imagine calling my “home” - that is what Harvard is to me.

About the author

Hello everyone! My name is Sung Eun Kim and I am currently a senior at Harvard College living in Cabot House. Here, I am concentrating in Neurobiology while pursuing a secondary degree in Economics... View full profile

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