Poor Fish, Rich Pond

Every year, students all over the world are thrilled to receive acceptance letters to Harvard and other Ivy League schools. It’s a sign that their hard work in school has finally paid off, and that they are on their way to accomplishing even more. But for a large portion of admitted students, it’s not the acceptance letter that guarantees the diploma–it’s the financial aid letter.

While the financial aid package ensures that a student will be able to attend college for the next four years, it doesn’t mean the end of all financial worries.

My family falls well below Harvard’s $250,000 income cutoff for financial aid, so paying for school was never a concern. However, my financial standing did raise some concerns in the weeks leading up to move-in day. I was worried that I’d be judged for not having as many clothes as my classmates, and I didn’t want to feel left out when they talked about their extravagant vacations abroad.

I will admit that I was extremely intimidated on move-in day when I saw some of my new classmates walking through the yard with Louis Vuitton suitcases, something I could only ever dream of owning. I quickly began to panic and start thinking that Harvard might not actually be the right place for me.

This fear was assuaged as I got to learn more about my classmates. I realized that financial differences were irrelevant here. Students don’t look to be friends with the people with the most money; they look to be friends with the people whose company they most enjoy. Income usually becomes the topic of discussion in only the most intimate conversations.

It’s true that I and other low income students aren’t able to eat out as often as other students, but this is one of the few rare times when these differences become evident. Luckily, midterm season arrives just in time to cut those pricey dinners short, once again putting everyone in the same boat. In my opinion, being a poor fish in a rich pond is nothing to be concerned about. In a school like this, the wealth of their classmates is the last thing on any student’s mind.