How to Be a Harvard Student

Forum Gives Advice on College Life

Do you want to be a Harvard student...or just act like one?

More than 75 Summer School students in the Secondary School Program chose to explore the former option last night and gathered in the mosquito-ridden Greenhouse Cafe for a forum on applying to and living at Harvard.

An admissions officer, Summer School dean, and three undergraduates were on hand to tell of their experiences at the College and answer any questions the high school students might have.

After telling the students that Harvard's admission process "is not scientific," Karen L. Heath '85, an admissions officer, cautioned the group of high school seniors against placing too much importance on their SAT scores.

"Your scores are not a shining beacon on your application," Heath said. "Don't spend all of your blood, sweat and tears on those tests."


The three undergraduates, all of whom are Summer School proctors, told the hopeful pre-freshmen of the reasons that they decided to apply and attend Harvard and then gave a brief anecdotal description of their years here, sprinkled with some advice. "If you are homesick [when you first come here], keep really busy," advised Meena Manshalaman '86.

Manshalaman said that her parents are now really jealous because she calls Cambridge home. She added that living away from home was an essential part of the college experience and said, "If your parents are forcing you to stay home--like my parents did, fight them."

Although Robert Walton's '87 first thought upon seeing Harvard on a typical New England day was "Harvard: what a creepy place," he said that sophomore year it hit him that "this place was great."

"It was kind of strange when I got my room keys and they said Yale on them," the history major joked. But Walton also recalled more serious aspects ofhis freshman year such as learning how to studyselectively and the "unbreakable bond" that formsbetween you and your freshman year roommates.

Coming from what she called "the moreprogrammed suburbs," Anne D. Berlin said that whenshe entered Harvard she was "incredibly hyper."

Harvard changed her completely, the history andreligion major said, turning her into a "much morepeople oriented person." "The great thing for meabout Harvard," she said, "is that it affords youthe opportunity to change."

Assistant Dean for the Secondary School programJames A. Klein tried to discourage the studentsfrom applying to Harvard, saying that the schoolwas not for everyone. "If you're interested inagricultural sciences--man, you should not behere. If you're interested in football, don'tcome," Klein said.

"Take a look at all schools, don't get caughtin the prestige track," said Klein. "You've got togo in confident you made the best decision youcan, please keep an open mind."

The students' questions centered aroundpredictable concerns. One student asked whetherattending Harvard Summer School increased one'schances at acceptance here next January. "Sorry tobreak it to you, it doesn't help at all." saidHeath, "It's not a gold star on top of yourapplication.