As I squinted at the bright screen of my laptop, my mind tried fruitlessly to control the growing sense of dread that was slowly taking over. The email that I had waited for months was sitting there in my inbox, but it wasn’t titled “CONGRATULATIONS” like the other admissions notices I had already received. Instead, it simply read something like, “Your admissions result is now available online.”
Everything froze for a moment. What did this mean? Thinking that HBS would follow a similar pattern to the other b-schools I applied to, I had waited and hoped for a phone call from the admissions director since last week and ominously, none had come. The writing was on the wall: I didn’t get in.
I glided my frightened mouse over the email and clicked. Nothing happened. Our Internet connection at home had apparently gone down late last night. This was turning out to be one of those days.
Treating the streets of Manila like the autobahn in Germany, I raced to the office to access my email. Being painfully early in the morning, there were no cars on the road so my drive was a relaxing and calming one. It was at this time that I started to rationalize. “It’ll still be fun doing an MBA in Chicago,” I naively told myself.
When I got to my desk, I powered my laptop and opened my mail. One email linked followed another in an utterly cruel procession to what I had already accepted as inevitable rejection. Then, when I got to the link that promised to finally bring me to my admissions results, I accessed the page and my eyes fell on the one word I had been seeking like no other: congratulations.
Time slowed and stopped. Then everything eventually sped up again and the first words to break the silence were my own, “I can’t believe I got in, I can’t believe I got in!” I ran outside our office building and couldn’t control the energy that was flowing through my body. I walked and paced wildly like a fish out of water. It was one of those moments that has been forever etched into my memory.
Then, I made the call to my parents and shared the good news with them. They were obviously very happy and congratulated me. It was only afterwards though that I truly realized what getting into Harvard meant to them. In a conversation I had days later, my younger sister told me that my father stayed home that whole morning sending text messages and making phone calls to all his relatives and friends. He had a big smile on his face and my sister says that she saw tears in his eyes.
Being an HBS student has undoubtedly changed my life and opened many doors for me. It has equally been transformative for my parents. Very few parents stare into the eyes of their newborn thinking that their child will one day go to Harvard. It is one of the ultimate validations of parenthood (and something the COOP has ingeniously exploited in their merchandise). That’s why when parents come to class, we stand and give them a rousing round of applause. This is a moment for them as much as it is for us.
One of the things that makes attending the Harvard Business School a rare privilege is the fact that nine other incredibly talented and accomplished people vied for the seat that you occupy each day in class. It’s a humbling opportunity very few have. Yet, at the same time, it’s also something one should fully relish and enjoy. And so, on that point, I want to reassure the 900+ RCs joining the HBS community: You belong here.
The sooner you pass the painful phase of trying to prove to your peers and to yourself that you actually deserve to be in HBS- that your admission wasn’t some mistake- the more satisfying and meaningful the whole HBS experience will be.
The MBAs of 2010 also has the distinct honor of being the 100th graduating class of the business school. Furthermore, this October 12 to 14, both the RC and EC classes will take part in the historic Business Summit that culminates the centennial celebration and brings together superstars from the HBS alumni.
This is undoubtedly an eventful and exciting year to be a student at the Harvard Business School.
There’s no other place I’d rather be.