Late in the Game: Life as a Mature Harvard Student

While most Harvard first-years are just beginning to exercise their 18-year-old voting rights, others are already veteran participants in the democratic system. And as most college students scramble with fake IDs or persuade older friends to supply them with alcohol, some proudly flaunt legitimate forms of 21-year-old identification--even as early as their first year.

There exists among the majority 17-to 21-year old college population a small minority of undergraduates who have already worked day jobs and paid utility bills--all before receiving their Harvard diplomas.

Taking Time Off: A Time for Change

Many factors motivate students to take time off from school or to begin their college careers only after a break between high school and college.

Roger P. Antaki '99, 25, who lives off-campus, took two years off between his junior and senior years to enlist in the U.S. Army. Antaki says he wanted a real-world experience that Harvard's academic setting could not offer.

Besides training at Fort Benning in Georgia, Antaki spent 12 months in the Republic of Korea.

Twenty-year-old Rene M. Roy '02, a Holworthy resident and a member of the junior varsity hockey team, took time off before college to pursue a professional hockey career.

"I had thoughts of turning pro and wanted to see where hockey would take me," he says.

Roy says his parents were supportive of his decision, even when he opted not to apply to college after high school.

"My parents were fine with my decision because I was still pursuing something--just not something academic," he says.

Samuel R. Hornblower '02, who will turn 21 this April and lives in Canaday, says that after living in Paris for six years and then transferring to a California high school, he needed to discover his own identity as an American before starting college.

"While others can find themselves in Nepal, I needed to find myself here," Hornblower says.

He worked as a tour guide in Alaska for three months and then a volunteer for the National Civilian Community Corp, a program started by President Clinton in 1992.

Hornblower says his year off helped prepare him for college.

"I have changed so much just because of my interaction and experience with human relations. It prepares you for a place as eclectic as Harvard," he says.