She didn’t get into to Stanford or Yale. But Sarah Schachman will be joining the class of 2016 at Harvard.
“Harvard was one of the last schools I applied to because I thought ‘This is ridiculous, I’ll never get in.’” but at her dad’s urging, she applied last minute.
Sarah’s parents were surprised, too.
“We’re really proud of her and excited,” Kathleen, Sarah’s mom said. “Harvard is at its lowest admittance rate in history. I felt deflated when I read that but then we got the phone call.”
When a 406 number showed up on Kathleen’s phone, she didn’t think it would be someone telling her that Sarah got into the famed Ivy League school.
“I thought it was a joke,” Kathleen said. “This young man called and said ‘Congrats on your daughter getting into Harvard.’”
The young man was a Harvard student from Great Falls who was responsible for calling and sharing the news with the few Montana kids who were admitted to the school.
Sarah said she thinks it’s her background in world travel and diverse interests that helped secure her spot at Harvard. Sarah’s dad is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines. The Schachman’s traveled all over the world to different assignments. Sarah said she went to seven or eight different schools before starting eighth grade.
When her family finally settled in Manhattan, Sarah grew restless. She decided to spend her junior year of high school studyingin a little village in Spain. Not only did she become fluent in Spanish, she managed to make her way to a bigger city, Valencia, to take the PSAT’s, a test that secured her spot as a National Merit Scholar.
During her time at Manhattan High School, Sarah participated in cheerleading, track and field, speech and drama, book club and Tiger Buddies, International club and National Honor Society. She graduated in May as one of Manhattan’s valedictorians, with a 4.0 GPA.
In her graduation speech, Sarah quoted Elle Woods, the fictional character from Legally Blonde who beat all odds and was accepted into Harvard. There are definite similarities between Woods and Sarah. Both, with blonde curls and an infectiously upbeat attitude, not to mention cheerleading background, seem to defy the stereotypical Harvard student. But while Woods may have had a penchant for great parties, Sarah’s parents don’t have the usual worries about sending her off to college.
“I have some concerns about extra curriculars,” Kathleen said. “There are so many that are interesting, she will really have to balance that with the academics. But I have confidence she’ll strike the right balance.”
Maybe she won’t skip class, or gain the freshman 15 the typical way, but that’s because Sarah is focused on her academics, as always.
“I want to study computer science and maybe a minor in neurobiology,” Sarah said. “I just like to design software and things like that.”
In her free time, if she has any, Sarah wants to start a county-western dance club, too.
“I want to start my own Harvard Hoedown Club,” she said. “I didn’t see any cowboy boots at visiting week and that needs to change.”
As Sarah prepares for her Ivy League education in the fall, she wants to share a message with Montana students.
“I want other kids to look at this as an opportunity to apply to these great schools,” Sarah said. “Because there really is a chance that you’ll get in.”
Kathleen shares Sarah’s belief that a great college education can be accessible for all kinds of kids, with the help of scholarships and grants.
“Lots of people get sticker shock when they think about a school like Harvard,” she said. “What we’re paying is about the same as a state school, almost as cheap as if she went to MSU. We want other kids to know that so they won’t be put off by the cost.”