Alexander B. Heffner '12 has a message for prospective college students—"be careful what you wish for." In an op-ed published by U.S. News & World Report, Heffner challenges the true value behind Harvard's reputation, comparing his current schooling in the Ivy League to his time at Andover and making it clear that a Harvard education is sub-par.
"I often feel obliged to tell people, even if they don't ask, that it was Andover (not Harvard) that taught to me to think and write critically," Heffner wrote in the op-ed.
The op-ed, which claims "there is an end to genuine learning" at Harvard, was, according to Heffner's response to an email inquiry, the cumulative product of "concerns with the environment in Cambridge since freshman year." The voiced concerns, in the form of an op-ed, have attracted many comments both in support and opposition on the U.S. News & World Report website.
Heffner explained that many of the problems he has with Harvard are attributable to the size of the school and its correspondingly large lectures.
"My overwhelming conclusion is that prospective undergrads should look elsewhere first and weigh what is truly most essential to them, the classroom experience or the perceived status," Heffner wrote. "For most students in the position to decide amongst highly selective schools, prestige becomes overrated in the decision-making process."
Heffner refused to comment when asked whether he regrets his own decision to come to Harvard. In his op-ed he does warn potential students not to "make the same mistake [he did]."
Mistake or not, Heffner is here and has no plans to transfer. Rather, he intends to keep making his opinion known from inside the Harvard community.
"If in a year and a half my feeling has changed, I will document that publicly as well," Heffner wrote.