Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Harvard Interview: Anticipation

I sent my Common Application to Harvard on the last possible date. I sent my SAT scores even later. Regardless, my online profile says everything has been received. Except the (voluntary) interview.

According to the website, not being able to set up an interview will not have an adverse effect on the applicant's chances. Now there's also a list of counties where international interviews are possible, and I hoped Costa Rica wasn't on it. It was. Since I suspect that not trying to set up an interview would look bad, I sent an e-mail asking who I could get in touch with. I got an answer telling me all Harvard alumni had gone on a mass migration to faraway parts of the world and that I was therefore saved. Hurray!

Actually, I got a list of names and e-mails and the interview is tomorrow.

Interviews are hard. At least I suppose they are, I only ever had one other with The Major, and a phone interview at that. See, the thing about a phone interview is that there's an escape route. If things go badly and I panic and I decide "Screw this, I'm frightened and I don't want a degree" I can slam down the phone and never face the person again. What am I supposed to do in person, make a break for the door? Wait 'til they turn their backs and try to sneak out the window? I don't think so.

What makes it all the more nerve-wracking of course, is that it's Harvard. Nearly no one is qualified for Harvard and that goes double for me.

My GPA is 3.72. My highest SAT score is 2140 (+ writing, 1410 without), high, but hardly Ivy League. And we're both going to know this and I still have to go in and convince him that they are.

Here are some depressing numbers: the most recent estimates (The Choice, New York Times College Admissions Blog) say that roughly 35,000 students applied to Harvard this year, up from 30,489 in 2010. Last year, only 7% were accepted (CollegeBoard).

Cheerful thought.

Air Force updates.

I mentioned before that I got a chance to re-take the CFA. Now the absolute final deadline for all forms is February 15th and I'm starting to feel I'm pushing my luck. O f course I have to find a Phys. Ed. teacher to apply the test and this so much harder during summer vacation (December to mid February over here). I tracked one down, however, and will be doing it this week.

There has been some measurable progress. I can do about 2 1/10 pull ups (ok, still pathetic, but it's up from 0 and I'm getting better fast). Around 35 push ups (up from 24), and a faster mile by about 30 to 45 seconds. My crunches seem to be deteriorating, but I dot hem and a hard surface and sway from one side to the other to avoid crushing my tailbone. It's about 100 times easier on a math.

As for ROTC, last time I checked (today) I was told that I was doing fine (read: send everything) and someone would be getting in touch with me for and interview.

That someone is The Major. I already did an interview with him and he told me he could do an evaluation from that. Good. Efficient system, I just expected to be assigned someone at random, really.

Financial Aid: CSS Profile

Big part of the whole college thing is paying for it. This is done mainly by filling out lots of forms asking for someone else to pay for it. In my case, this is made susbstancially easier by the fact that we can answer about 99% of the questions about income with $o.

The CSS Profile was a fairly simple form, if a bit repetitive. Also, the help codes assigned to each question often didn't actually lead to any help. This is perfectly understandable in some cases, like "Student Name" ("Please check your ID, ask your parents, or check your underwear's waistband. If you still cannot figure this out, reconsider whether you are ready for colllege."). For pretty much anything else it should be obligatory, even if it only says "You are clearly to tired. Please get some sleep or caffeine".

At the end, there are some nice (passive-aggressive) telling me where (they think) I made mistakes. "No, we don't owe any taxes", "Yes, I am sure", "$0", "ASK ME ONE MORE TIME I DARE YOU".

All submitted, I get a little worksheet telling me the CSS Profile questions, the equivalent FAFSA questions and my answers. All to make this an easier process, or at least keep my stories straight.

Drexel and ASU

At this late date (even past a lot of admissions deadlines) I still get e-mails from other universities. I still ignore most of them, like the ones is Switzerland or an average SAT score of 900, but there are a few good ones.

Of course, it's worth remembering that my sole knowledge of universities comes from TV (so brand name recognition), my father (who has been out of the US for over 20 years) and the e-mails I get. Since there's no chance of my looking up any university I've never heard of, I probably miss a bunch of good schools.

So. Drexel. Excellent engineering school, co-op program (options of 0, 1 or 3, for a degree in 4 or 5 years). Considering how hard it is now to get a job with no prior experience, (and I haven't even worked in a fast food chain, isn't that like a teenage rite of passage?), getting some experience in your chosen field before you even graduate is pretty neat. Although should everything go well, it's the Air Force for me, anyways.

As for ASU. I lived in Arizona for a short 5 years, most of elementary school. I never considered going back for the simple reason that I didn't know there was anything to go back for ("for which to go back"? My father is a stickler for grammar, he actually insists on the use of "Am't I?" in lieu of "Aren't I?"). Turns out it gets a space-grant, offers and Aerospace degree and has a well-known Honor's College. Also, my uncle lives there (in Arizona, not the Honor's College) and it would be nice to have a family member nearby when I'm moving 5 countries away.