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My Admissions Journey

If I could describe my admissions journey in one word, it would be “overwhelming.” I, like many of you, stumbled through my admissions process on the verge of collapse as I worried about my future prospects. The one thing I wish I learned sooner is how to stop worrying and how to just relax. If only I had known that my stress wasn’t going to help me get into any of my “dream” schools.

I applied to twelve schools in total. That, in itself, I feel like was a mistake. I paid for my fees out of pocket, and I watched my savings account dwindle over schools that had good rankings on various websites, but schools that I wasn’t passionate about. My admissions process was complicated by the fact that I am mostly self-funding my education. Therefore, almost every acceptance that I received was like a punch in the face as I realized, time and time again, that I would be unable to afford the schools that had admitted me.

Ivy day came around, and there it was: my acceptance letter to Harvard. The only problem was that I was missing my financial aid offer. I broke down, devastated, because I was certain I’d be unable to afford my dream school. However, I submitted all of my documents, and several days later, I received my offer. Compared to other private schools, it was, by far, the best offer that I received. In the end, it came down to Harvard or my local state school.

My visit to the Admissions Office

I decided to schedule a visit for Harvard, and I came with my mother on April 26th. During my visit, I fell in love with the school. It’s easy to be star-struck by Harvard, but I was so amazed by the excitement and activity of the university. I found the campus beautiful, was amazed by the diversity, and was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming friendliness of everyone here. It was on that day that I visited in late April, that I made my decision to attend Harvard, and I have had no regrets since. 

Braeden with his parents, wearing matching Harvard t-shirts.
Above: A wacky photo of the Foldenauer Family

All of that said, if I can impart any of my little wisdom gained from the experience, it would be to apply to schools for your own sake—not others’. Everyone is going to have expectations for you and will want you to go to some place or another, and it’s easy to feel trapped. However, ultimately, it is you that will have to live with your decision. If you get anything from my convoluted application experience, it would be to be content with your decision—to choose your school based off what’s best for you, not just to satisfy others’ expectations. I learned to be happy with wherever I ended up, and I realized that my success wasn’t going to be defined by the name of my university. I did, ultimately, choose Harvard because I saw it as an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, but I did not see it as an end-all-be-all. Meeting the people here and having my experiences have all reaffirmed my decision to attend, but I now realize that all along there was no “right” decision and wrong “decision,” only a lot of great options. 

A close-up picture of Braeden

About the author

Hi there! My name is Braeden Foldenauer, and I am from Southaven, Mississippi. I am a freshman, currently living in Pennypacker Hall, and I am planning to concentrate in Government. Outside of... View full profile

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