Social Class at Harvard

Dean Shu

I. What do you Think About Class at Harvard?

“I think Harvard hits the mark with regards to socioeconomic and racial diversity; it could be better, it could be worse”—Nicholas T. Rinehart ’14

“It’s sort of the elephant in the room”—Nelida Garcia ’14

“If you’re paying full tuition, you’re not middle class—you’re upper class”—Laura ’13

“I’ve never had an unpaid internship in my life!”—Timothy P. McCarthy ’93, history and literature lecturer


“It’s personal—you think about your own experience and don’t realize necessarily that your experience is common to a whole group of people”—Timothy Nelson, sociology lecturer

“Now that I’ve learned so much about myself, I know that I have the power, and the responsibility, to inform others about my experiences, and learn about theirs”—David E. Tebaldi ’10

“Ambition was the first thing I noticed when I came here”—Zena M. Mengesha ’14

“Just because I didn’t go to this or that high school doesn’t mean anything; I can do just as much now that I’m here”—Haley E. Adams ’15

“If people judge me for that [my class background], obviously I don’t care for them”—August A. Dao ’15

“I’m not inherently opposed to meritocracy, I’m opposed to a sham meritocracy”—Laura ’13

“The demographics of the entering class are quite different, and the opportunity to learn from people who are different has grown exponentially”—Thomas A. Dingman ’67, dean of freshmen

“Harvard is in an important symbolic position in education, but in my opinion, there’s still not much Harvard can do”—Shamus Khan, associate professor of sociology at Columbia University

“A student from the highest income quartile and the lowest aptitude quartile (as measured by standardized test scores) is as likely to be enrolled in college as a student from the lowest income quartile and the highest aptitude quartile”—Harvard Financial Aid Initiative “Shoestring Strategies for Life @ Harvard: A guide for students on a budget”

“It contributes greatly towards a man’s moral and intellectual health, to be brought into habits of companionship with individuals unlike himself, who care little for his pursuits, and whose sphere and abilities he must go out of himself to appreciate”—Nathaniel Hawthorne