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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 2, 2002 - Issue 73


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Hopi Students Learn What Harvard Admissions Entail

by Stan Bindell Navajo-Hopi Observer
Hopi High School StudentsPolacca, AZ - Students who are considering going to Harvard need to apply early.

The deadline is Jan. 1 for the next school year. Dwight Miller, director of the admissions office at Harvard University, told students at Hopi High that it is difficult getting into this prestigious university.

But Miller told Hopi High students about the application process and that it would be a great chance for them if they were accepted. He spoke to about 25 Hopi High advanced placement students Oct. 7.

While Harvard starts the application process by looking at students' grades and college entrance test scores, this is just a small part of what is taken into consideration. Miller said Harvard wants to know "who the person is."

Miller said extra-curricular activities — whether at school or in the community — are important. He added that attending prestigious summer programs like Phillips Exeter or Mt. Hermon can also be helpful in getting accepted.

"Do the students challenge themselves by taking the toughest courses? What do their teachers say about them?" he asked.

Miller said students should not write on their Harvard essays what they think Harvard wants to hear or to impress, but should tell about themselves and subjects they know about.

"It's nice to see what a kid wants to get out of college," he said.

Miller noted that about 1 percent of the student population at Harvard is Native American. There are anywhere from 90-125 applicants from Arizona each year with six to 20 students from Arizona that are accepted.

About 8 percent of the 1,600 students who are accepted annually are from abroad and about one in 10 students who apply are accepted.

Kay Corbin, Harvard alumnus, said she likes to talk to incoming high school freshmen about what steps they should start to take if they want to attend Harvard.

Miller also told the students they should not put all their eggs into one basket, as they should apply to several colleges.

Harvard tuition, room and board costs about $40,000 per year, but scholarships are available. Harvard usually calculates the difference between the cost and what the family can afford. Students can pay their way through grants, loans and work projects. Each student usually gets some money from each of these three areas.

"There is always some responsibility to borrow and work," he said.

Miller estimated that the average Harvard student gets 70 percent paid through financial aide. He emphasized that Harvard would not admit a student without giving them the ability to pay for their tuition, room and board.

"Don't be blinded by the staggering price tag. It's an investment in your future," he said.

Miller said students take part-time jobs in the library, administrative office, dining room and off campus to help pay their way. Some work as teacher aides.

He said Harvard is competitive and rigorous with good teachers who demand a lot. Harvard offers a liberal curriculum that is open and offers academic freedom to students. Students are encouraged to study in many different areas.

Harvard offers almost every foreign language and offers a wide range of courses in the social sciences and the humanities.

"If you're curious, you'll love college. Our students get a broad understanding of a lot of subjects," he said.

Miller said students should not view college as just a means to an end.

"It's important to get jobs, and that will happen but college should not be just for that," he said.

Miller said Harvard students learn how to argue for themselves.

"You should respect others, but stick to your own guns unless you are given a good reason to change your stance," he said.

Miller encouraged the Hopi High students to tell their little brothers and sisters about Harvard so they can start thinking about what they need to do to get into this prestigious university.

About 95 percent of the Harvard students live on campus. They live in freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior clusters. Each housing unit has its own library, living room and dining room.

Harvard students take four courses each semester with three hours of class time for each subject. There is an average of two hours of homework for each hour of class.

"But you devise your own work habits. Some students do some work each day while some procrastinate," he said. "Common sense, self-discipline and maturity helps. You have to use the initiative because it won't fall in your lap."

Harvard also offers 41 different types of collegiate sports.

"Our philosophy is 'athletics for all,' " he said.

For the past two years, students from Hopi High School have studied at a unique Harvard summer program.

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