Free things=good things. Go to the crew intro meeting for a free athletic shirt. Go to the Barker Center Café as it’s closing for free coffee. Go to Lamont Café for a free massage from your peers (apparently). Go to the laundry room for free condoms. Go to the career fair for free random shit with company logos. Go to the libraries for free pencils. Go to Mather Lather for free soap. Go to any bulletin board for free thumbtacks. Go to Lowell on Thursdays or Sparks House on Wednesdays for free tea. Go online for Freeze Magazine. Go to the Democracy Center for freedom. Go to MIT for freaks. And don’t go to Harvard if you want to save money.
—Charles R. Melvoin
Harvard is full of memories waiting to be made, so when faced with a decision, always do the more memorable thing. You definitely won’t remember another Saturday afternoon you spent in Lamont writing a paper about how dinosaurs affected the cosmic connections of the universe, but you’ll never forget the time you took a road trip to Maine with your friends in search of the perfect lobster. Don’t be afraid to get off campus and take some risks.
When in doubt, always outsource opinion—but only take it if you agree, and own your choice. And always be skeptical of the following: Craigslist, that kid in section who “brings in outside reading,” anyone you meet at a club, Square store prices, yourself at an ATM on a Saturday night.
—Asli A. Bashir
Until senior year, I probably spent equal amounts of time talking about the work I had and actually doing that work. Many nights, I begrudgingly dragged myself to Lamont to crank out a paper only to peruse Facebook and Perez for three hours, and maybe inhale a bag of Cheez-Its or two along the way. Not very productive. Then I realized, if you’re going to commit to work, commit to it. If you’re not going to be productive, then don’t bother trying—do something else that’s fun and get it out of your system. In other words, work hard, play hard. It might be a cliché, but only because it’s true. Why unproductively toil away in the library when you could be hanging out on the Claverly steps with your friends in the sunshine?
—Julia M. Spiro
All the advice worth giving in 100 words or less: Go drinking with a professor. Take a class with Jennifer Roberts. Change your concentration. See a movie in Boston. Sneak McDonald’s into the theater. Get spiked cider on the Daedalus roof deck. Go club-hopping in the Alley. Read FM. Wear your retainer. Make art. Attend Eliot Fête. Write a thesis. Go sake bombing at Takemura. Throw someone a surprise party. Watch Lady Gaga in concert. Quit a student organization. Pass out in a pizza parlor. Invent new slang. Smile a lot. Laugh at yourself. Keep in touch. Ninety-nine. One hundred.
—Jamison A. Hill
My parents and I, we had carried suitcases and under-the-bed storage, lamps, mirrors, and school supplies, lots of them, up five flights to my freshman dorm room in Grays Middle.
My parents and I, we were sweaty. We were tired. We were ready to be done with move in, ready to move on.
But before my parents left, before they kissed me, and waved, and drove back home, my father took me aside.
“Come here,” he said. I followed as he walked away from the other parents and their children. It was sunny still, and the Yard looked the way it should—green and perfect.
He put a hand on my shoulder.
“There’s something I want to tell you,” he said.
This was it, I thought. The speech about drinking or drugs. Boys. I got ready.
He said, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.”
Harvard—it was a word I hardly ever said aloud to myself, let alone others. I had been intimated by numbers. 22,753 applicants. 2,600 with 800 verbal. 2,700 with 800 math. 3,000 valedictorians. 2,109 admitted students.
Of course—it turns out—I was just fine, which I realized as soon as I forgot I went to Harvard, forgot the numbers.
There are a lot of things I will remember about that moment. The weight of his hand on my shoulder, the light. The feeling of knots, untangling in my gut.
My tip? I got it before the first day of school even started. I forget sometimes, but: try to relax.
—Emily C. Graff