Acceptance at Harvard and Columbia

Last week, I received acceptance letters for Master’s programs from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Columbia Journalism School. I don’t know how many times people have said, “it felt like a dream” but I would still understand what an inexplicable feeling it is to be accepted at a world-class school, such as Harvard or Columbia. They have been my dream schools throughout my life.

When I was young and lived in a smaller Pakistan-Iran border town called Panjgur, I dreamed of going to a school in a major Pakistani city like Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi. My parents never had the money to send me to a big school. For me, the very feeling that I have been accepted by two of the world’s best schools marks a sense of accomplishment.

A lot of people ask me why I have decided to go to school. The answer is simple. I would like to take my career to an advanced level. Higher education, I believe, is a lifelong investment. I do not wish to regret at some point in my life that I did not commit some time to get a world-class education when I had the time and the opportunity to do so.

On March 13, at 13:28 p.m., I received an email from Harvard saying that my online application had been updated. I was expecting the final decisions. As I opened the update, there was a welcome and congratulatory messages from David T. Ellwood, Dean Harvard Kennedy School and Matt Clemons, Director of Admissions.

“The Kennedy School attracts an outstanding group of applicants each year, and it is often difficult for our team of faculty, staff and alumni to make the final choices. You are among the talented and diverse group we have singled out on the basis of your intellect, your leadership, and your commitment to service,” Dean David T. Ellwood wrote.

In his message, Mr. Clemons, Director of Admissions, wrote,  “The Admissions Committee spent many hours reviewing applications, and you should be justifiably proud of this outstanding achievement.”

A day later, on March 14th, I received my second acceptance letter from Columbia Journalism School for the  Master’s of Arts in the Politics Concentration.

“After a careful selection process, you have been chosen from a pool of extraordinary applicants to become a part of what we hope will be the most engaging, invigorating and challenging learning experience of your life,” wrote Christine Souders, Associate Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Columbia Journalism School.

Steve Coll, Columbia Journalism School’s Dean and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, wrote in his welcome message: “We have many more applicants than places, so you should consider your acceptance an honor, and a sign that the Journalism  School’s faculty and staff believe that you have the potential to become a first-rate journalist and a leader of the profession.”

There have been several remarkable people who supported me with my application process. They wrote me strong reference letters that made my application package stronger. For Harvard, Dr. Hassan Abbas of the National Defense University, Washington DC, Dr. Bill Silcock of Arizona State University and Dr. Sally Blair of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) wrote reference letters while for Columbia, Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed of the American University, Christina Lamb of Sunday Times and Ali Mustafa of Al-Jazeera English were very kind to write me recommendation letters. 

While the good news was about my acceptance at these two great schools, the bad news is that I will have to choose only one. The classes will commence in September. Both schools will be organizing events for the newly admitted students. Harvard will be organizing one at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., of which I am a member, on April 8th, 2014.

Also, my decision which school I will attend will entirely depend on the financial aid I will get from them. I have applied for a number of scholarships at the Kennedy School. A final decision will be made in the first week of April.  I have a few more weeks to decide which offer I accept.
Please drop a comment if you have any suggestions or if you’d like to share your experiences.

2 Responses to “Acceptance at Harvard and Columbia”
  1. Laura Bush says:

    What a wonderful dilemma, Malik. I’m sure you’ll weigh your options, listen to informed opinions, and trust yourself to make the decision that’s best for you. Either way, it doesn’t seem you could go wrong. I look forward to following your career and appreciate the difference for good you’ve already made in the world, giving voice to many who do not have a voice and being a valuable watchdog who lives by a code of ethics and compassion for human beings around the world. Thank you!

  2. Ajaz Ali says:

    Many many congratssssss from indepth of heart for ur series of marvellous success and achieving milestone in such a early age…..making history .
    Ijaz baloch
    UoB quetta

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