Here’s What You Should Know Before You View Your Admissions File

By Courtesy of GIPHY

While we have all once been (or currently are) young, bright-eyed freshmen entering this hallowed institution of higher education, our similarities often end there. Of course, we are all worthy of being here and were chosen to attend by the oh-so-mysterious admissions officers. However, some of us suffer from crippling ~imposter syndrome~ or just have the unsatiated curiosity (or enough unhinged boredom) to have that urge to open Pandora's box. Y’all know what I’m talking about — the Admissions File (*insert audience gasp here*).

For those of you who don’t know, the Admissions File is the document specifically curated about you that contains all the secrets about Harvard’s admissions process. JK, you’ll lowkey be more confused about what all the numbers mean, but you can at least read the comments that the AO’s (admissions officers) write about you.

As a freshman, I succumbed to my curiosities and requested to view my admissions file (see Flyby’s step-by-step breakdown for how to access the file in the first place). I wish I could say it was a life-changing experience that altered my whole outlook on why I was admitted or why I belong here. But, no. Anyway, to all you people who are debating whether to view the file or not, here is what you need to know.

You’ll never truly understand how they assigned your numbers

Why are some intended concentrations ranked 1 and others are 3? Did that one Model UN conference I went to in junior year bump me from a minus to a plus? How do you even measure personal qualities? There are some things that can never be known (and maybe they should stay that way…)

Don’t expect endless praise and positivity — sometimes the comments are mediocre or lowkey bad for self-esteem

It can really be a jab to your ego when you see words like “I don’t see anything special” or a series of 3’s while your friend got 1’s and 2’s. You might not even see anything of real substance at all, just the occasional generic compliment about your essays (thanks I guess, anonymous AO). That does NOT mean that you are lesser than or are any less deserving to be here. We all ended up in the same place!

Side effects include further questions on why they even chose you if they said stuff like this and/or ugly crying

Coming from personal experience, people are either compelled to deeply analyze their application to decipher the reason they got in or cry because their AO’s were so nice. Be prepared before you open your file; perhaps have tissues on hand.

At the end of the day, admissions files are just pieces of paper that don’t encompass at all who you are or what you are capable of. Don’t let its contents affect your perspective of yourself. But, if you find yourself bored one day and wondering how on earth this hallowed institution chooses its students, go ahead. Satiate your curiosity.

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