University President Drew G. Faust touted Harvard as a place of learning and discovery in a speech welcoming prospective freshmen and their families to Visitas—the visiting program for admitted students—in Sanders Theatre on Saturday.
“Harvard has a way of unfolding for each of us. It has a way ... of making transformations happen,” she said. “You will find here a near infinity of opportunity.”
The visiting program’s record attendance this year of 1,350 prospective students was reflected by the crowd in Sanders. Many students and parents were forced to watch the address from an overflow room in the Science Center.
Faust stressed student access to faculty, the ability to engage in a wide variety of interests for the sake of exploration, and expanded opportunities with the General Education program and in the arts as positive factors for prospective students to consider when making their decisions.
“Try to imagine this place as your place and try to keep in mind the almost limitless possibilities,” she said.
While Faust said she hoped the accepted students would attend Harvard, she encouraged them to think carefully about their choices.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, who introduced Faust, echoed this sentiment.
“There’s a lot of things we try to sell you on ... but the most important thing is that you find the right match,” he said. “Try to make any big decision in your life with your heart and not your head.”
When asked to list the top reasons not to go to Harvard, Faust deferred, touting the value of attending a large research university but encouraging students to consider whether that is what they want from their college experiences.
Faust and Fitzsimmons were not short on praising the future members of the class of 2015.
“Except for my class, the class of ’67, this is the greatest class at Harvard,” Fitzsimmons said with a smile.
While focusing on their own perceptions of Harvard, the speakers acknowledged Harvard’s image in the media.
Fitzsimmons said that he went to Harvard at a time before Legally Blonde and the Social Network—movies that he said do not accurately represent life at Harvard.
Referring to the Social Network movie, Faust cited Mark Zuckberg’s founding of Facebook as a Harvard undergraduate as proof that at Harvard, “even a romantic failure can have pretty extraordinary outcomes.”
Visitas, which officially began on Saturday and finishes this afternoon, provides prospective students with a variety of opportunities to experience the offerings of the Harvard community.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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