It's a lot like when your ancestors got off the boat. Some, filled with thanks and indebtedness, will kiss the ground beneath them. But others, the ones with well-established contacts in the New World, feel right at home.
Still, even if everybody at Harvard may not start off equally, Freshman Week can be the great leveler--if you have enough savvy to catch on quick. This year, as always, the coolest people will stay in their rooms the whole time, or not show up at school until the week is over. But for those who insist on participating in this week's activities, here is your schedule for being boss during your first days at Harvard.
FRIDAY, September 12:
9 a.m.: Rooms ready for occupancy. Harvard's first come, first served system of room choice will force many freshmen to begin waiting with their parents at around 7 a.m. for the Yard gate to open. Many start the year off happily by beating other roommates out for the single room. The rooms are always larger than anticipated so bring a lot of furniture. Your roommates will bring the plants.
9:30 a.m.: Open checking account.
11 a.m.--2 p.m.: Throw frisbee in Yard.
2 p.m.--4 p.m.: Throw football in Yard.
4 p.m.--5 p.m.: A little Yard lacrosse game.
6 p.m.--8 p.m.: Dinner at Pier 4 with all the other Harvard freshmen and their parents.
8:30--9:30 p.m.: The most aware freshmen may spend these hours reading books for upcoming interviews with freshmen seminar instructors.
10 p.m.: Bull session in stairwell--use this time to impress other freshmen with your phenomenal high school feats.
1 a.m.: Bull session ends.
SUNDAY, September 14:
The last day to move in. Some choose to arrive fashionably late. All feshmen must have their pictures taken for their frequently flashed bursar cards, so make sure you look good, particularly if you go for library attendants or members of the dining hall staff.
MONDAY, September 15:
9 a.m.: Registration. Traditionally one of the most harrowing experiences of freshman week. Everybody must brave the long lines, only to get inside Memorial Hall and be accosted by what seems like thousands of student groups, eachgrabbing anybody who comes by. Avoid the Bahai's, Trotskyite factions, Harvard Student Agencies (buy and wash your own sheets--it's cheaper and more reliable), the rifle club and those obsequious class ring salesmen.
4 p.m.: Introductory freshman crew meeting. If you were one of the "select few" that received notes this summer imploring you to join the crew team because of your superior athletic prowess, don't be deluded. Crew coach Harry Parker sends these notices to almost all freshman except those who weigh over 400 pounds or have no arms. Expect to see half the class there.
8:30 p.m.: Lecture: "The Continuing Darwinian Revolution." One of a series of educational encounters that the freshman dean's office provides for you. Beware: there are always a large number of freshmen in the class who use these lectures strictly to out-psyche you. Particularly avoid those who claim they have heard of the lecturer, or understand the subject matter. If you are still in the old high school habit of attending every class, this could be a good time to break it.
TUESDAY, September 16:
9 a.m.: If you have decided that you are unhappy with your room or roommate, now is the time to start your complaining if you expect to get anywhere. When you complain loud and long enough about anything around here, you eventually get your way. If you run into a recalcitrant administrator, call him at home at 4 a.m. Harvard is a can-do place. Never take no for an answer.
10:45--12:30 p.m.: Reading Test. The misconceptions about this test really abound. Some think it decides what track you'll be in for the next four years. Others, through upper classman hearsay, will spend hours practicing by reading books, baseball cards, milk cartons, anything they can find. Actually, this is about the only pleasant exam you'll take in the next several years, so enjoy it. A basic reading knowledge of English, however, is required.
2--3:45 p.m.: The first of a long series of tests that must be taken if you placed out of the language requirement. The cool thing to do is plead you have dyslexia--a convenient reading disability created specifically to get you out of taking the French exam.
3:45-5 p.m.: Required meeting of Harvard and Radcliffe freshmen who have been notified that they are eligible for sophomore standing. Advanced placement is a real sore spot among freshmen--some people who never even had advanced placement courses in their high schools, now come here and find that a third of the class is eligible. Don't let it worry you, but if it really does, keep up your image and attend the meeting even if you didn't amass a lot of "fives." It's especially boss to say that you go a couple of fives on the A.P. even though you hadn't taken any A.P. courses.
4 p.m.: Soccer and track introductory meetings. Track, a sparsely attended sport in high school, often withers to extinction at college now that mothers and girlfriends can't even attend the meets. Soccer draws a fairly large crowd for title matches, and the team is not so awesome that you need to be an all-something-or-other from high school to land a spot on the starting freshman squad.
5 p.m.: Coffee hour with Joel Porte, professor of English. A caveat--along with the free coffee may be an unprecedented amount of brown-nosing. Porte is an expert on Emerson and Thoreau so expect the ubiquitous ego-deflating frosh to be in attendance, mouthing quotes from The American Scholar or Civil Disobedience.
7:45 p.m.: First of many proctor-sponsored Yard beer parties. There will be plenty of Budweiser and Almaden on hand, but you can't drink and run. Proctors are required to recite selected gems from the Rules Relating to Harvard--it's all very blase. Also--this may be your first encounter with the game of Concentration. In this painful ordeal, students sit around in a circle and tick off their names and perspective areas of study. Maybe you should show up late.
WEDNESDAY, September 17:
9--10 a.m.: Required meeting with Harvard officials. In a week filled with tradition, this meeting is a classic. Of course, the coolest people usually choose to sleep through it. But others will crowd into Memorial Hall in search of order in an otherwise chaotic first few days. Rather than inner peace, most freshmen come back shell-shocked. While you're busy wiping sleep out of your eyes, the go-getters are already at work, frantically waving hands, ready to ask questions of the guest lecturer that were prepared months ago. You'll stumble out firm in the belief that you need a year off or that it's time to transfer.
11 a.m.: There is still time in the week to put off the mandatory swimming test that a Harvard heiress required of all freshmen when she bequesthed her fortune to the University.
2 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Loeb Drama Center introductory meeting. The freshman avant garde will turn out en masse for this meeting. Because of a lack of interest and a general overproduction of shows freshmen can advance fast in Harvard dramatic circles. But most likely half the group that is kneeling on the theater rug in this jam-packed meeting is there simply to sign up to be ushers and get into the productions for free.
4-5:30 p.m.: Freshman football introductory meeting. It's a frightening experience when 100 of your fellow classmates show up for this meeting. But even more scary is that freshman coach Chet O'Neil probably already had his starting eleven picked out for both offence and defense. Nobody is looking--why don't you hang up the spikes before you spend the whole fall on the sidelines? However, if you have aspirations of sitting on the varsity bench one day, you must start gathering splinters this season.
7:45: Reception for new Harvard and Radcliffe students in Sanders Theater. Your chance to meet Presidents Derek Bok and Matina Horner. Savor these glimpses--they may be your last of them until your Commencement.
THURSDAY, September 18:
2-4:30 p.m.: Advising on Science Courses and Placement. A must for pre-meds, this meeting is one of several that are guaranteed to psycheout the unwary. Don't be misled by fellow students urging you to take what sounds like difficult chemistry courses. After you sign up, they'll drop out and coast through Natural Science chem.
2-4 p.m.: Institute of Politics panel. For those who haven't purged themselves of student government, the Institute of Politics may be a good outlet. The place is full of people bound for Washington, summer or otherwise.
4:30-5:30 p.m.: Coffee hour with Bernard Bailyn. Actually, this meeting has potential. Once again, if you are willing to brave the onslaught of people who think they know more about the American Revolution than Bailyn, you may be able to find out why some groups are paying upwards of $1000 a night to hear this man pontificate. He's very topical with the Bicentennial crowds.
5:30 p.m.: Picnic at the Radcliffe Yard. Another casual get-together annually spoiled by pretensions. Aside from avoiding those people who refuse to let the topic of conversation stray beyond the recently read German translation of Camus, you now must contend with the group of Wellesley women carted in to appease the males. The beginning of open exploitation season for women at Harvard.
SATURDAY, September 20:
Mixer: You've made it through the week, and then this had to happen. It may be a real rite de passage, but usually it just sends freshmen back to their rooms to write letters to girl and boy friends back home. The mixer is much like renting a room for your senior prom and finding out when you walk in that 12 other schools have also booked the hall that night. Go, if only to give you something to talk about for the next ten weeks.
MONDAY, September 22:
Classes begin--and with them comes not only the end of freshman week but a lot of much colder freshmen, already entrenched in camps of friends and ready for the winter. Doors propped open all week are now shut, and your seven-day license to say and do what you want is revoked. Coolest people move in today