Harvard University has long been a symbol of prestige and achievement. As an Ivy League school, it represents the smartest and best of America. Of course, every Korean parent covets the Harvard status for their children. Admissions is highly competitive, with only a 5.2% acceptance rate. For the Class of 2020, Harvard accepted 2,037 total students from a pool of more than 39,000 applicants. Top SAT scores, a 4.0 grade point average, and a stellar record are the minimum requirements. Then the Harvard Admissions Committee considers growth and potential, interests and activities, character and personality, and contribution to the Harvard community. These are some of the questions asked:
- What sort of human being are you now?
- What sort of human being will you be in the future?
- Will you be able to stand up to the pressures and freedoms of College life?
- Will you contribute something to Harvard and to your classmates?
- Would other students want to room with you, share a meal, be in a seminar together, be team mates, or collaborate in a closely knit extracurricular group?
There is meticulous and labor intensive consideration of each applicant. To maintain its Ivy League status, the Admissions Committee does not tolerate misrepresentation of credentials. If inaccuracies are discovered during the process, the applicant will be denied admission. If the applicant has been accepted and has registered, Harvard will require the student to immediately leave the premises. Harvard will rescind degrees if misrepresentations in the application process are discovered.
When my parents became proud American citizens over 40 years ago, it had a sort of Harvard status. Only those who had the most to offer America, the brightest and best, were granted acceptance. My Dad, a Seoul University graduate, came here with hopes of a better life for his family. There’s no doubt about it: America is the Harvard of the world. In America, you can be and do whatever you dream of. People can “write the script of their own lives,” with greater social and economic mobility than possible in other countries. However, no country can prosper and lead the world as a beacon of opportunity, with a non-selective, “open door” immigration process.
America already has a selective immigration process, but it is not being enforced. The rise of Trump shows that citizens are demanding compliance. Many countries have self-serving immigration policies, without accusations of bigotry and xenophobia. Koreans have already benefited, and will continue to do so, with selectivity in place. Everyone knows that our children are likely to go to Harvard, and become doctors, lawyers, engineers, small business owners, and teachers. The truth is, Korean-Americans have made great contributions to every aspect of American life. If and only if we reject massive, unrestrained immigration, can we continue to do so.