Far From the Madding Crowd Off-Campus Students at Harvard

Duffin: A Separate Peace

"Before, I felt sort of squashed by Harvard as an entity--it became almost a threat with all the academic pressure," says Kathy Duffin '78. The biochemistry concentrator says, "If everyone around me is worried about grades, it's hard for me not to be, too." Duffin spent her sophomore year in Adams House and last year in an apartment with three graduate students. Now she shares an apartment with a secretary who works at MIT.

Other factors besides academic pressure influenced Duffin in her decision to move off campus. She says she "felt a need to get out in the real world," and also wanted to escape the noise, expense and low-quality food endemic to Harvard House life. Duffin calculated that off-campus life would save her about $700 a year, but finds that incidental expenses have reduced that amount.

Off-campus residency causes her no special problems. "I tend to sleep through more classes, but that's a matter of self-discipline. You think you'd spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning up afterwards, but I found I'd spend a hour and a half in the dining hall anyway." Like most students who move off campus, Duffin associates with the same people she did while living on campus. She says less frequent mealtime contact makes little difference in the quality of her friendships. "When I would sit with people at meals it was usually in a large group so I wouldn't say much anyway."