Nearly 1,285 students accepted to the Class of 2018 are expected to flock to Cambridge this weekend for Visitas, Harvard’s visiting program for newly admitted students.
The weekend marks the return of Visitas after its cancellation last year due to the Boston Marathon bombings.
The program, which is slated to run from April 26-28, falls closer to the May 1 deadline to accept a spot in the Class of 2018 than in previous years. Last year, Visitas was scheduled for April 20-22. In 2011, it was held from April 21-23, and in 2010, Visitas lasted from April 16 -18.
When scheduling Visitas, the Admissions and Financial Aid Office accounts for many different factors, including giving students ample time to prepare for the trip, according to Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Jeff Neal.
"The Admissions Office deliberately avoids scheduling Visitas to coincide with major religious holidays, including Passover and Easter, each of which change each year," Neal wrote in an email. "Finally, Harvard believes it is important to give every admitted student the time and opportunity to compare institutions."
Some students said that because of the late timing of Visitas, they will have already decided where they will attend college before travelling to Cambridge. Such students said that they hope Visitas will provide an opportunity to get to know current students, professors, and future classmates, rather than to inform their college decisions.
Diana M. Gerberich of Wolverhampton, Mass., who was admitted regular decision, said that she had decided to matriculate to Harvard shortly after being accepted, but is still excited for the weekend.
“Visitas is for getting me acquainted with my classmates, learn more about the programs, meet professors, and learn more about Harvard as a student,” Gerberich said.
She added that based on her discussions with other admitted students and the posts on the admitted students Facebook group, she felt that “it doesn’t appear [that most students] are using Visitas to help them make the decision, but to get a feel for the campus.”
When they arrive for the weekend, prefrosh will receive a red folder with a schedule packed with details about information sessions, receptions, and talks from various Harvard professors and administrators.
Undergraduate Council President Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 will be hosting a satirical debate with his former UC running mate, Samuel B. Clark ’15, on Saturday to discuss the differences in academics, social life, and extracurriculars between Harvard and Yale. Mayopoulos said he plans to represent Harvard, while Clark will speak on behalf of Yale.
“Harvard and Yale have never had any serious rivalries and so I imagine the tone will be quite relaxed and will never escalate to yelling or vulgarities or obscenities,” Mayopoulos said.
He added that he thinks that visiting students will get an honest image of life at not only Harvard, but also Yale, and that the debate will be “even-handed.”
Hunter J. Stanley of Los Angeles, Calif., who is currently on a gap year, said that he hopes he can use Visitas to learn more about pre-orientation programs and interact more with his future classmates.
“I am definitely looking forward to meeting my other classmates from all over the world and get oriented with the campus a little bit,” Stanley said.
—Noah J. Delwiche contributed to the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Theodore R. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @trdelwic.