Reality Check: Harvard Life

Karen G. Heredia

The Yard was full of family, friends, tourists and local Cambridge residens as the Class Day ceremonies began.

Congratulations, Class of 2018!! Whether you found out in December that you’ll be wearing Crimson next year or you just got the news yesterday, we welcome you the Harvard community (or at least congratulate you on having the opportunity to join it). The next step is deciding whether or not Harvard is the place for you. We’re not going to lie, Harvard isn’t perfect, but there's definitely more you should know about it than what the Admissions Office can convey to you.

To clear this up right off the bat, there is a social life at Harvard. Sure, this isn’t a “party school” and sports games aren’t the center of everyone’s weekend like at some universities (though Harvard-Yale gets pretty exciting). Most people here are really social and engaging, so don't worry that the campus will seem empty on Friday and Saturday nights with everyone locked away in the library. Whether it’s with a group of close friends, a sports team, or an extracurricular activity, there are always things to do on campus and interesting people who want to hang out.

That being said, work here is hard. You may have heard some nonsense about grade inflation and everyone getting an A- or above. If a large number of students here get good grades it's usually because a large number of students here work their asses off. This is a good thing, though, because you will surprise yourself with how much work you can get done at a high level. You'll soon feel much more comfortable reading (or pretending to have read) multiple books a week, participating in classes, and writing 8 pages essays in record time. The work is hard, but you really do learn a lot.

Frozen yogurt at lunch and dinner. Two flavors. Every. Day. There’s also rarely not an opportunity to eat free pizza.

 Everyone here is smarter than you. Obviously that’s not actually true, but it is true that everyone here is very smart and that you will probably feel overwhelmed by the kinds of things your peers have done before even getting here (“You discovered a cure for what?!”). But wait until you need to come up with a last minute idea for a presentation, or do a group project, and you'll be thankful for so many great minds. Your classmates can be great resources and actually help you learn and grow as a student.

Last one. Did you ever hear that “stuck up Harvard kid” stereotype? Hint: It’s not true. At least not any more true than at other schools. Sure, you’ll meet a few of these pretentious kids at Visitas (or maybe they’re already posting in your Facebook group…), but don’t let that deter you.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully it clears up a few things you have rattling around your brains before you decide whether or not Harvard is the place for you. You can expect the work to be hard and your peers to be little Einsteins, but don’t expect Harvard to be dull, boring, or uninviting.

Want more? Like Flyby on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @crimsonflyby!

Tags