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The following essay is taken without alteration from Harvard Magazine’s current issue. I reprint it without comment because its clarity and persuasiveness require none.
Read and reflect.
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Porter University Professor Helen Vendler, a preeminent poetry critic, has served on Harvard College’s undergraduate admissions committee. Given contemporary admissions processes and pressures, she recalls “wondering how well T.S. Eliot (who had to do a preparatory year at Milton Academy before he could risk admittance, and whose mother was in consultation with Harvard and Milton officials before deciding what to do with him after he finished high school in St. Louis) would have fared, or Wallace Stevens (admitted as a special student to do only three years’ study), or E.E. Cummings (admittedly, a faculty child).” Accordingly, she proposed that alumni interviewers receive some guidance on how to understand, attract, and evaluate applicants whose creative talents might otherwise be overlooked, and wrote this essay, subsequently posted on Harvard’s Office of Admissions website.
Anyone who has seen application folders knows the talents of our potential undergraduates, as well as the difficulties overcome by many of them. And anyone who teaches our undergraduates, as I have done for over 30 years, knows the delight of encountering them. Each of us has responded warmly to many sorts of undergraduates: I’ve encountered the top Eagle Scout in the country, a violinist who Continue reading “Admitting Writers and Artists to Harvard”→
The following, in Shonnie Brown’s “Neighbors” column, appeared in The Healdsburg Tribune, our local weekly, on February 9, 2012. [Most of the images were not in the original.]
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Ann, born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, has the dubious distinction of attending high school with both Dick and Lynne Cheney and participating in student government with Dick. Dick, who Ann recalls as being “good looking” back then, wrote “I’ll be your friend forever” in Ann’s yearbook.
Almost two months had passed by my Harvard freshman door. It was 1961, early November, and the air was crisp and blue-gray. I had moved into Pennypacker Hall from a smallish farm town 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the smartest of 900 kids graduating from a large public high school that had never sent a student to the Ivy League in its 64-year history. My admission, with headlines bolding its uniqueness, had blossomed on the front page of our daily newspaper the previous April. A month later there was a letter to the editor from a retiree in Arizona who peevishly and poignantly reset the record with his story of a 1933 admission to Yale that he had turned down due to lack of funds.
The first month at Harvard had been manageable, although I had previously read few things more dense than a textbook. The next couple of weeks crosscut my footing with assignments in Aristotle and Piaget, and I began to teeter. I anesthetized my anxiety about insufficient studying by playing contract bridge, and on this particular night I was trolling the halls, searching for a fourth. Continue reading “George W. S. Trow (1943-2006)”→