Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
We walk in a path; our entire life is a path that many have walked in before us. We are led through this route since birth. Pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, and now college. It is so easy to walk on this regular road, following its tear, walking on the known footprints we can see. Sometimes, we need something else. Sometimes we need to take another way, a way that is not clearly marked. This isn’t a regular road to take, by choosing to apply to Harvard Extension School I have subjected myself to a long, intimidating road just to get accepted. But I never looked back.
By the time 2014 came, I have been working for five years already. It is not uncommon here to have a few years of buffer after high school. The time has come to get my bachelor’s degree, or at least that is what I was being repeatedly told. Many people have told me that I should just go to a regular college. That is what they know, and my paved road headed towards a regular college. But my heart didn’t. I live a half way across the globe and Harvard was always a dream to me. However, I was never bread for Harvard, or any Ivy as the matter affect. I never took the SAT’s, it has been years since I wrote anything that resembles an essay, and my high-school diploma is not exactly the noble goal that tree had in mind. But none-the-less, I was intrigued. It cannot be that I will never make that dream come true because I was a regular high school girl. That is when I discovered the Extension School.
Harvard Extension School meant I didn’t have to quit my job, which I love. It meant I can still work hard enough and get in. It meant I still had a chance. So I started. First, the English proficiency, then three classes, an admissions packet, and a lot of chocolate.
HES suggests TOEFL, IELTS or PETA for the English proficiency, I took the TOEFL seeing as it was the best fit for me. Don’t let anyone fool you; this is the scariest part of the process. Come on, little girl who didn’t use her English in 5 years, come on and let’s make you feel like an analphabet. It felt like I had to re-study the entire language. I didn’t even know what level I should be in; I could only guess what makes a good essay. So I just started writing, memorizing words and idioms. I began reading about random people so I can have examples, I started talking to my friends in English, just so I won’t embarrass myself too much. After re-scheduling the test twice, I have decided that it was time. It took 3 hours, four practice tests, two months of studying, and 1 Dr. Seuss quote. But I passed. I was now one step closer.
I didn’t qualify for Expo-25, which is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me because Expo-15 was just what the doctor ordered (my bank account, on the other hand, would have been just fine without it). After deciding that baby steps are the way for me, I only took one class that first fall semester. I needed to do this right, so each assignment and each class got 100% of my attention. Every assignment made me more and more anxious, as I became more and more invested in the process. While my husband had study groups with his friends, I became a Skype expert. I spent my days reading and re-writing, thinking if this is the way for me, what happens if I fail? Maybe there is a reason Harvard takes such preparation, perhaps I’m not cut out for this level. Although it seemed like forever, the semester has passed, and so did I. I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I do belong here.
Next semester I took two classes, Expo 25 and Grammar. Expo 25 didn’t take long to become everything I feared, a class that expects you to know how to do these things and write an excellent essay. I can only say it is not a class to be taken lightly. The reading was so heavy; every free second was spent reading. The pressure was enormous, especially while working full time and preparing my admission packet. I ran my essay by as many people as I could, and my resume by Career Services Office which was a great help. And by the end of the semester, I was ready to curl up in a cave and sleep for months. The workload is definitely something I had to get used to and get smart about. Passing Expo-25 didn’t feel like a victory, it felt like a time-management lesson more than anything.
It was a Tuesday at the beginning of June; I was navigating my husband through a construction nightmare. As I kept giving him the wrong directions I got us stuck in a major traffic jam. We were just arguing about a third U-turn when I got the email. I couldn’t talk. I could hear my husband desperately begging me to look at the map, but I couldn’t say a word. It was there, the email that said, you’re in. It cost me almost a year, three classes, and an extra hour of traffic, but I’ve made it.
This is not a road that suits everyone. This is a road of independence and flexibility. There are no shortcuts. But you will make friends for life. Ambitious, independent, marvelous friends. You will get to learn from amazing teachers, and work as hard as you have ever worked before. This is a road you have to conquer on your own. But it is the most beautiful road I have ever seen.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken. Frost, Robert. 1920. Mountain Interval.” 1. The Road Not Taken. Frost, Robert. 1920. Mountain Interval. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.