Descending upon Harvard en masse, prospective members of the Class of 2016 scurried from event to event this weekend to get a taste of life on campus before making their final decisons.
Roughly 1,300 prefrosh attended Visitas, the visiting program for admitted students, according to the College’s Admission Office. Throughout the weekend, these new admits could be seen wandering campus, maps in hand, attending a variety of programs meant to acquaint them with all that Harvard has to offer.
University President Drew G. Faust welcomed the prospective freshmen and their families to Visitas in Sanders Theatre on Saturday. According to the Admissions Office, upwards of 300 prefrosh and their families had to watch the welcome address by simulcast in an overflow room in the Science Center.
In her address, Faust praised the many opportunities for growth and discovery that the College provides its students.
“Harvard is about trying new things because they’re interesting, because you’re curious,” she said.
Faust sympathized with the difficult decision many prospective students face when choosing a college—describing Harvard as a committed lover and the prospective students as the fickle one. “We think you belong here....You’re still trying to decide if you want to confirm our relationship status,” she said, using a popular turn of phrase inspired by Facebook.
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 opened his welcome with an allusion to Jeremy Lin ’10, a New York Knicks player who rose to international reknown after a string of sensational performances earlier this year.
“I should start by welcoming you to Jeremy Lin’s college,” Fitzsimmons said.
Fitzsimmons urged prospective students to choose wisely when selecting where to spend the next four years.
“We want you to look carefully to decide which college is right for you,” Fitzsimmons said.
When prefrosh exited Memorial Hall and the Science Center, they were greeted by blasting music and the smell of barbecue. The event, hosted by Asian cultural groups at Harvard, was one of the more than 100 events put on by student organizations to introduce prefrosh to Harvard’s extracurricular scene.
Besides events hosted by student groups, prefrosh could take their pick of performances, social events, and a number of panel sessions, which discussed topics ranging from gap years to the advising program.
Many new admits said they enjoyed their weekend at Harvard.
“I really like the environment,” David Ding said. Ding said he particularly enjoyed “Visitas Thinks Big” and found the professors’ lectures engaging.
Others prefrosh said they found choosing between the variety events overwhelming.
“It’s hard to figure out what to go to,” Bethany L. Donovan said. “The extracurricular fair was totally bewildering.”
Prefrosh Mimi Yen said she wished the College organized events with alumni who graduated from the high schools that prefrosh currently attend.
On Monday, prefrosh are encouraged to attend classes and many academic departments will hold open houses.
The Class of 2016 saw the College’s lowest admit rate to date—only 5.9 percent of applicants were accepted.
—Staff writer Elizabeth S. Auritt can be reached at email@example.com.