Liu accepted into Harvard class of 2026


Used with permission by Jeslyn Liu

Senior Jeslyn Liu holds up her computer after opening her acceptance letter from Harvard University.

Jumana Alsaadoon, Online Managing Editor

Piling up in the car, her friends watched her open each result for early admission. Everyone became tense as she opened the letter from Harvard University. It was a long shot, but she knew there was still a chance. Senior Jeslyn Liu opened her results, one word haunted her, ‘deferred.’ 

“I felt my whole world collapse, not that I had expected to get in or anything,” Liu said.

Despite not expecting to get into Harvard, she still felt disappointment. Liu had been hoping to get done with college admissions early and relax for the last couple months of her senior year.

“It would have been a breath of relief if I got in at that point, I wouldn’t have had anything to worry about for the rest of the school year,” Liu said.

However, this was not the end for Liu’s journey to Harvard. When students are deferred  the college recognizes them, and wishes for them to apply once again, but through the regular college applications.  This does not mean it gets any easier. According to Georgetown University, only 15% of deferred students get accepted during regular action. Which meant that Liu had to work harder for the rest of the year. 

While working on her applications, Liu kept her dedication to the clubs she led. These service clubs outlined what she wanted to do after high school including her college career. Her passion for service started when she joined two nonprofits during quarantine. 

“I joined two nonprofits during [my] junior year. One was a tutoring non-profit, I enjoyed it. It gave me social interaction when it was not a thing. The other one was a mental health nonprofit. I got really interested in outreach and doing things for other people. It was really enjoyable,” Liu said.

Her most notable story during volunteering online, was when one of her students logged on to learn, despite his hard conditions.

“During one of my tutoring sessions, [I was tutoring students] around the world. I was on a zoom call with [a] student. [He] didn’t have his camera on and his voice was really raspy and I couldn’t tell if he was sick, you can hear a lot of noise in the background. Regardless, he was sitting there and listening to me. Trying to learn whatever he could even though he could barely talk,” Liu said. 

This made her realize the beauty of helping others. How one hour of her day could impact students. 

“It was really touching to see, just one hour of my day could possibly change someone’s entire week [or] make the situation slightly better for even [the one] hour that we were together,” Liu said. 

Through these experiences, Liu narrowed down what she wanted to do after graduating.

“I am really glad to have found my passion during high school. It’s community service and being able to do things that are in my power that I can do to help others,” Liu said. 

When it was time to finally start the application process again, Liu found the process going easier than expected. Building her resume and getting teacher recommendations became the easiest part. However, the harder part was writing her college essays. Like most students, Liu felt the pressure. 

Her ability to summarize her life to around 700 words was getting tested. She started with writing something niche. Liu wanted to trust herself with completing this essay in an authentic and inspiring way, but it was harder than it seemed. 

“[I wanted] to write about a niche topic and trust [my]self to write something specific. [I] reflected and realized that [my] life has not been that eventful,” Liu said.

Despite slowly working through the process, starting the essay was still difficult. 

“When you think that the last twelve years of your life come down to each word you write on this paper…even your name is hard to write down,” Liu said.

At last she came to a conclusion, it didn’t matter how sparkly her story was, but it mattered that it was genuine to her. 

“I didn’t know what to write about, in the end it’s not about making your essay something spectacular. Just make it true to yourself. Write something that you are passionate and honest about,” Liu said.

Soon enough, regular action came out and Liu among thousands of other students were waiting for their acceptance letter. She was driving to Williamsburg, Virginia, to open her results with her older sister, who goes to William & Mary. 

“I opened the decision and I started crying. It was excitement and relief.” 

Though her senior year is coming to an end, Liu found another exciting start. 

Among students there can be a stigma to prove yourself through college admissions. Liu experienced this first hand. 

“It’s not that college defines your worth, but [I] guilt tripp[ed] [my]self into thinking, [I] will [only] receive recognition for the past twelve years if [I] accomplish this,” Liu said.

Liu recognized that students are lucky to be able to afford and gain the support for college. 

“I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to a four year college. I am grateful for that, but college is definitely not the answer for everyone. There is a path for everyone, four year college just seems to be the right path for me at this time,” Liu said. “I have the support of my parents. I am lucky for that.”