Harvard Material? Yes, You Are.

Students should refrain from viewing their admissions files and instead take ownership of their place on campus.

Admissions Files

It’s a natural feeling to want to look at your admissions file, as students are entitled to do by virtue of the Family Educational Privacy and Rights Act. With each passing year, the College’s acceptance rate only gets lower, and the number of people applying only increases. For many of us—especially freshmen who are still trying to carve out a space for themselves on a campus that can be daunting to anyone—the need to understand “why me?” is understandable. The number of students wishing the view their files has only increased since the last time we felt compelled to speak about this issue. Then, the rate of requests was approximately 100 a month. Today, the Harvard Admissions Office receives over 200 requests per month by students asking to view their admissions file.

For one, the plethora of file requests may potentially lead the Admissions Office to cast a greater veil of secrecy over an already-secretive process. The “circles, stars and weird numbers” facing curious file-viewers may only become more arcane and more abstract. Ironically, students searching for answers only become more puzzled.

As we have previously stated, we do not object to students’ right to view their admissions file. But we stand firm in our belief that all these requests only serve to heighten an unhealthy and toxic atmosphere that can often surround Harvard admissions.

Administrative resources aside, we do not believe it is good practice for students to view their admissions file because undergraduates evolve so much during their time here. They quickly change, as everyone does, and soon become different individuals from whom once they were in their high school days. College—especially Harvard, with its infinite amount of opportunities to develop new interests, hobbies, and skills—changes people, for better or worse. Many of us choose to trade in our varsity letterman jackets for a lab coat or put down the high school newspaper for a laptop to start coding. Viewing our files might only serve to create a negative view of ourselves, forcing us to think we should do more or do less or change in some way. But no one is perfect—we need to understand this and learn to be happy on a campus that piles enough pressure on our plate.


We should learn to let go of the often-stressful college applications cycle and learn to appreciate where we are now. It’s our hope that our fellow students will learn to accept the present as well as the past. The fact that you are here speaks volumes. While we may all have our own unique traits, we have one thing in common: The Admissions Office trusted us enough to send an offer of admission.

In the end, that’s what matters.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.


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