Thursday, June 18, 2009

Divinity School Applications

I have convinced myself there is no way I can get into Harvard, let alone get the required massive financial aid to go (not to mention get the part-time student status required, which will require a special exemption). In case I get the courage to apply, I woke up in the middle of the night the other night and scribbled out a first draft of a "statement of purpose," one of the items required for admission to Harvard's Master of Divinity program.

It felt really genius at the time, but as with most "2:00am writing," if I use anything from it at all, it will need a lot of work.

Meanwhile, I thought I could do myself a favor by putting out an initial request for my letters of recommendation, even though the school does not yet have its recommendation letter forms (which it specifies it needs) online for next year's applicants. While I was online looking for the forms, however, I read something I apparently missed previously: "At least TWO of these letters must be solicited from college, university, or seminary professors who have taught the applicant and are therefore well acquainted with the applicant's academic qualifications." Ah, shit.

I graduated from my most recent school experience in 2001, if memory serves. Since that time, the program I was in underwent a serious overhaul, and I just went searching online to discover that *none* of the faculty from my days in attendance are with the university anymore. So now I have to go hunt them down, and hope that I can find them, and then hope that they are doing something that will look good to freaking HARVARD on letterhead. And THEN hope that they actually remember me (I was an outstanding student of course, LOL, but who knows...their names have since faded from my own memory, so I wouldn't blame them if the same was true for them in regards to me).

Not only that, but suddenly I am starting to wonder if I was supposed to send a thank you note to the Harvard professor who allowed me to sit in on his class (oops!). And if I shot myself in the foot with my inability to attend more classes than I did.

Cold feet time. I am feeling really defeated, and I've hardly begun. My goal was to work through most of the application materials (as well as FASFA materials, etc. for financial aid) over the summer, so that in the fall, when the application is published, I can focus on that. The fall is an immensely busy time at work in any case, and I figured I was doing myself a favor.

But I am terrified, and that makes me simultaneously obsess and procrastinate. Not a good combo!

I think it would help if I could get my self to stop imagining all the other grand candidates. I am who I am. But suddenly the statistics I referenced a few months ago look different. Before I saw:

Applied 677
Admitted 253
Incoming 160
MDiv 50
MTS 100
ThD 6
ThM 4

...and thought, "hey 253 out of 677 isn't bad at all. And since most of the incoming students are MTS students, there probably weren't that many MDiv applicants."

But now I look at it, and think, my chances of being admitted could hover somewhere in the 60-70% range, and probably plenty of those admitted last year didn't get necessary financial aid, because of those that were admitted, about 40% aren't going. Besides, what if there were plenty of MDiv applications, but they just don't accept as many into the program so my chances are even less. Or what if they gave out less financial aid for those studies or...(ad nauseum).

By the way, if you are curious, all the application materials are listed about 1/5 or 1/6 of the way down this page:

(I am assuming if I prepare all these materials, I'll have most everything I'll need for the other school to which I am applying as well.)

The big question is, will I apply or won't I?


sf said...

You COULD get other references instead with an explanation that is has been awhile since you graduated...

Masasa said...

As my former minister-colleague (a Harvard Divinity School alumn) says, "Harvard takes great pride in being unacommodating." I don't think that will work, but I do plan to submit the extra two allowed references in addition to whatever I can pull together from old profs.

Masasa said...

(p.s. edited my post a bit, mostly to say more LOL)

Anonymous said...

Though it seems so impossible, don't let it scare you. The challenge just makes the reward *that* much sweeter!! Honestly, not even knowing you that well, I truly believe you stand a chance. Take it one small step at a time and prepare for the ride of your life! ;-)

Masasa said...

Thank you for the encouragement. I sure need it!