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Carlos M. Brown Jr., a senior at Henrico High School in Richmond, Va., spent Thursday night volunteering at a local elementary school and trying to keep his emotions in check.
“I think that helped calm the nerves I told everyone I didn’t have,” Brown said of the event.
When it ended, he headed outside with his friends to check his Harvard admission portal, expecting to get a rejection.
“When I read ‘Congratulations,’ I took off running across the parking lot,” Brown said. “It honestly took me 40 minutes to calm down enough to drive home.”
Brown was one of the 1,015 applicants who received word of their admission to Harvard Thursday, joining 935 applicants who were accepted via early action in December. The Class of 2023 had a record-low acceptance rate of 4.5 percent, with just 1,950 of the 43,330 applicants receiving invitations to attend the College.
Other applicants also looked for ways to remain calm before decisions were released at 7 p.m. EST.
Remka Y. Nwana, a senior from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va,, said she played Beyonce on repeat for half an hour. Shraddha Joshi, a senior at the Meridian World School in Round Rock, Texas, also turned to music in the moments before the decisions were released, opting for her favorite Arabic music.
Katherine Y. Zhu, a senior from San Diego, Calif., tried napping to stave off her stress. She applied as part of the early action pool, but was deferred. More than 5,000 of the near 7,000 early action applicants were deferred.
“When I saw that deferral, Harvard had been my dream for so long, and it was quite disappointing,” she said. She poured hours into a letter of continued interest that she sent to admissions officers, and then “just waited.”
“I was just about to fall asleep when I jerked awake and realized, oh my gosh, it’s 4:05. Decisions are out,” Zhu said. “I was crouching down because I was just in shock, because someone that had been deferred from the early round was finally able to get in.”
Many applicants said they made a point to be with their families when they checked their admissions portals.
“For my family, it was always very important to us that we had the whole family together,” Isaiah J. Kim, a senior from Wallingford, Penn., said. “Whether you know things went well or not we’d be there to support each other.”
Kim said he was “definitely happy” when he received the news, but he was also “a little concerned” about his mom.
“She was bawling her eyes out,” he said. “I think she was just kind of overcome with emotion.”
Joshi said her younger brother could not wait to share the news with the whole neighborhood.
“My younger brother opened up the window and started screaming, ‘My sister got into Harvard!’ she said.
Several admitted students also shared feelings of shock and disbelief at their acceptances, believing that they were about to receive rejection letters.
“I didn’t scream right away. I was thinking to myself, ‘No, this has to be an actual joke,’” Nawana said. “I wanted to keep reading to make sure that I actually got it.”
Lawrence T. Jia, a senior from Maggie L. Walker High School in Richmond, Va., said he too was in disbelief.
“I never would have imagined getting into Harvard. It has always been a dream and a goal of mine, but now that it was all happening, I felt really humbled and calm,” he said. “All I could say for the next few moments was wow. Capital W-O-W, WOW.”
Accepted students have the opportunity to visit Harvard during its admitted students weekend — dubbed Visitas — from April 27 to 29.
—Staff Writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.
—Staff Writer Sahar M. Mohammadzadeh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @saharmzadeh.
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