Things I Know 117 of 365: I am going to Harvard

Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow, attend to the history of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.

– Samuel Johnson

Mid-March, I found out I was accepted to the Harvard Ed School’s master’s program in Ed Policy and Management.

Toward the end of March, I had an idea for helping to overcome what appeared to be the largest hurdle to actually attending the program – paying for it.

While the idea didn’t make up the difference, it did subsidize approximately 11 percent of what I needed to attend.

As it became clear my audacious goal was just that, I started to become as knowledgeable as I’ve ever been about student loans.

Somewhere in there were more frequent phone calls home than I’ve probably ever made since moving out.

I’ve decided to do it.

I’m going to Harvard in the Fall.

I’ll be honoring my commitment to those who graciously donated to Chasing Harvard. I’ll also be proud owner of some substantial student loans.

I want this.

A great deal of my decision was made when I attended the open house for newly admitted students. Admittedly, I was (and still am) cautious about some of the rhetoric coming out of the school. I was worried I’d have no one with whom I would connect, that SLA and schools like it would be an impossibility in the minds of people I met.

I did meet and hear from some people with whom I adamantly disagreed. I also met and heard from people who thought deeply and passionately about many of the same ideas I hold dear.

That is the kind of environment in which I want to learn.

I’ve always sought a plurality of ideas. My most invigorating conversations are those with people who will argue against me just as ardently as I argue against them while both of us are seeking to understand.

I am not so naive as to believe I’ll be entering some sort of modern Lyceum. All I hope for is a program of study where my ideas will be challenged and where I am free to challenge the ideas of those around me. I’ve found that.

Also key to my decision is the ability to cross-register in the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Business School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Law School – you get the idea.

I want that.

While I realize I’ll be limited to the number of outside course I’ll be able to take, I want a program that allows me to blend my learning about education’s ecosystem with learning about other intellectual ecosystems.

As those systems interact and blend more and more, I want to study and understand those interactions.

I want this.

What scares me, what I don’t want, is to leave SLA.

I’m sure I’ll write later about what I’ve learned and what it means to leave. This is about where I’m going, not where I’ve been.

Let me just say that it is a testament to the people I learn alongside every day how difficult it will be to leave.

In the end, I turned to Samuel Johnson’s thinking in “Rasselas.” Trying to understand happiness and how to acquire it, Johnson’s protagonist learns reaching for one thing means giving up another. In the end, one must make a choice and be content.

I am.


4 thoughts on “Things I Know 117 of 365: I am going to Harvard

  1. Like everyone else, I suppose, I am really happy for you. More than that, though. You have set your intentions and now you are rigged-up to set sail. Awesome. True, goodbyes can be fraught with peril. But only if you let them. And that is not the stuff you are made from. You have weighed your options and now you are taking a leap of faith. Go confidently in your direction, and all that. I am sure a lot of us will continue to follow you. That is inspiring and motivating. And those are words strung together by a somewhat old head. I want to go to Harvard now.Now I am off to read Samuel Johnson until your next post.Be well,Marty

  2. I can't tell you how “sappy” I am for you, Zac! Sad that you are leaving SLA, since I know you will be missed by many. But happy that you are continuing to reach, stretch, and challenge yourself. You've already made more differences in more lives than you realize – and those ripples will keep spreading. I look forward to learning through and with you as you head to Haavad! (P.S. You remember that we Schinkers come to Boston every year for July 4th, right? I hope we can catch up with you there one of these years!)

  3. Congratulations! I'm getting ready to click “accept” on some sizable student loans for grad school, so I understand. I wish education were more affordable, but I decided I couldn't sit around hoping to win the lottery while life continued to get complicated and my chances of attending slimmed. In reading about SLA the last couple of years, I've always hoped to be in a learning environment like that. I have no doubt it will pain you to leave, but I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip to Harvard.

  4. I'm sad.I'm angry.It sucks that you have to leave what you love in order to improve it. There's no reason why you can't do both. There's no reason why you can't stay in the classroom. Maybe you don't carry a full load. Maybe you just teach the food class and have an advisory. But you're still in the school environment. And online learning isn't everything, but, done right, it can be a big chunk. It can be the conversations and the reflection and the essential questions and the diverse viewpoints. But Harvard wants all of you. They want you on their campus, in their classrooms. And that's a bit selfish.I think you're going to change some minds. You're going to stretch the boundaries of what is possible. Your cohort and your professors don't know what they're in for, but they're certainly going to learn as much from you as you will from them.I know you're never going to stop learning, but I hope, too, that you never stop teaching. And not just in that informal interacting with adults kind of thing. When the dust settles, I hope you find a position somewhere that gives you the chance to have a positive influence on the lives of kids every day.There aren't enough outstanding teachers in this world, and we can't afford to lose another one.Inaweza amani kufuata katika safari yako, ndugu yangu.

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