Attending college is about more than just academics and history; it’s also about culture and activities that are available to the students.
Harvard is a residential campus with nearly all students living on campus. Harvard has always infused extracurricular educational experiences outside of the classroom to augment the learning in the classroom. Much of the Harvard experience occurs through student interaction.
In reality, the typical day for most Harvard undergraduate students is not much different than for college students all around the world. They wake up, attend classes, hang out with friends, engage in a variety of activities, and study, study, study. There are a lot of mythical aspects surrounding the culture at Harvard because of the famous alumni that have graced her hallways, but it really is not too much different in terms of daily routines for students.
The main difference is the quality of education, services, cultural and entertainment options, and resources that you receive. The quality found within Harvard is second to none and is a main reason why it is one of the most sought after schools in the world for one’s education.
So this is a Harvard bar, huh? I thought there’d be equations and shit on the wall. — Chuckie, Good Will Hunting
The academics are quite rigorous compared to most schools, but that’s why it’s the cream of the crop in the world. If you want anonymity, if you want to be able to skip class once in a while because you stayed up late the night before, then Harvard isn’t the right school for you. Class sizes for undergraduates are approximately 12 students, and this offers a lot of interaction with faculty and the chance to get to know them. It also means you can’t do much hiding out in the back of the room. Some of the major introductory liberal arts courses are large, and can have as many as 600 students per section, but they are broken down into smaller groups that are taught by teaching fellows, or graduate students. This is common among many larger universities throughout the country as well.
At the center of campus is the famed Harvard Yard. This is where you will find many administrative buildings, the main libraries and most of the freshman dorms. Nine of the twelve residential buildings for sophomores and above are located in the “Quad” area, about a half-mile from the Yard.
While students who attend Harvard are among the scholastically elite, they do come from a variety of backgrounds. The uppity stereotype that surrounds Harvard can certainly be found with some students and faculty, but there are many more students and professors who are well-grounded and down to earth, and humble.
It’s important to keep this in mind when applying to Harvard, or considering it as your future alma mater. No one wants to feel like an outsider or that others are better than them, and while you can experience that anywhere, Harvard has been unfairly portrayed through the years in cinema and televisions shows. In reality, you will certainly find friends here at Harvard.
Harvard is full of students who were the top leaders in their high schools and involved in their schools and communities. That being said, the students here study hard and play hard, too. They are very involved in student organizations (we’ll touch on those later), and they know how to counterbalance their studies by having a lot of fun.
The 200+ acre campus is always hustling and bustling. The culture is a mix of ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. Applicants should have no problem finding a group of people they feel comfortable being around.
All freshmen live on or next to Harvard Yard. The Yard serves as the historic center of the campus. It is surrounded by several newly renovated classrooms, dorms, administrative offices, as well as the famed Widener Library.
Meet The Neighbors
As an incoming freshman, you will live with at least one roommate in a suite. All first year students are assisted by a resident adviser, or proctor, to help you acclimate to the campus and become familiar with life at Harvard. The school has a first year program designed to get students involved in a variety of activities including the arts, intramural sports, and freshmen seminars. All freshmen also eat together in Annenberg Hall, so you’re sure to meet plenty of new, exciting people who will become friends for life.
After your freshman year, you’ll form their own living groups to be assigned to one of twelve housing communities throughout Harvard. Harvard guarantees students housing for four full years. Unlike many other schools, virtually all Harvard students choose to live within one of these twelve communities. These small academic and socially based communities range in size from 350 to 550 students. Each house has its own dining hall, recreational facilities, and commons rooms.
A senior faculty member serves as the housemaster along with a wide variety of other Harvard staff members who organize social events, set up tutoring, and set the overall tone of the house. This innovative living system creates a dynamic learning environment that you will discover creates a close-knit community that extends far beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Boston On Your Doorstep
One of the appeals of Harvard is that you can experience a small college town environment, but have access to the city of Boston just a short trip away. America’s College Town is 3 ½ minutes from Cambridge and you’ll find a variety of entertainment, shopping, dining, culture, sports, and clubs to keep your blood pumping and your stress level down to a minimum. Boston is a historical city rich with plenty to discover, see, and do as well.