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Acceptance Letters Greeted With Screaming and Disbelief

By Madeleine A. Granovetter, Contributing Writer

UPDATED: April 1, 2016, at 5:03 a.m.

Michael J. Won scheduled his hour-and-a-half cello rehearsal to start at 4 p.m. He gave his cell phone to his piano accompanist, who turned it off and promised not to give it to him until 5:30.

“I didn’t want to count down the seconds until 5 p.m. and check immediately,” said Won, who wanted to postpone the moment of finding out whether he would become a member of Harvard’s Class of 2020.

When he read “Congratulations,” in big bold letters, he started shouting. When he told his mother, she started to cry.

Won, a student at the Dalton School in New York City, is one of the 1,119 students who were admitted to Harvard’s Class of 2020 via regular decision.

He described his college application process to be “long” and “emotional.” He had wanted to attend Harvard ever since he first visited, he said, when he studied in Widener Library with his cousin and walked around Harvard Square.

Won is not the only admitted student who procrastinated checking the long-anticipated admission decision.

Despite seeing a notification at 4:59 p.m. that her portal had a status update, Ellen Y. Li waited until her best friend received a decision—an acceptance. It was only then that Li ventured to view her results.

“I started screaming and we called each other and we screamed for five minutes straight,” said Li, a student at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla. “I just didn’t want to know until she knew.”

Li reported that despite the thrill of the acceptance, she continued to follow through her extracurricular commitments on Thursday.

“I had to tutor a girl from 5:30 to 6:30, so I was super excited and energetic while tutoring,” she said. “I still have to process what happened.”

Cherri L. Wang, a student at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., who had just been rejected from Princeton and Yale, was “huddled up in the covers,” and preparing herself for rejection when she checked her Harvard admissions portal.

“I screamed and ran all over the house,” she said.

To distract herself in the hours leading up to 5:00, Beverly Ge, also a student at Buchholz High School, cleaned her room and talked to a friend and her mom, glancing at the clock often. She said that before she checked her admissions result, she reminded herself to “expect the worst.”

The worst never happened.

“I asked my friend ‘does this say that I got it? Did I actually get in?’” Ge said. “It didn’t feel real. I just can’t believe that I was admitted.”

She said her friend is going to bake her a cake in celebration. “Maybe red velvet, because it’s Crimson.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:


An earlier version of this article misstated the number of students who were accepted for Harvard's Class of 2020 via regular decision.

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