Students Ignore Boston's Allure

News Feature

When William R. Rico '96 arrived at Harvard from his native New York, he expected to travel into nearby Boston often. In fact, the city was part of Harvard's attraction, he says.

"In New York, no matter where you get out in the subway, there's activities," he says. "When I came here I thought I'd be going to Boston a lot."

But Rico rarely finds the time now to make the trip across the river.

"It seems like it's too much of an effort," says Rico, who goes to Boston "two or three times a semester."

Like Rico, many students say they came to Harvard partially because of its proximity to Boston, which is featured prominently in University admissions materials.

But most undergraduates say they rarely get to the city.

Transportation may be one problem for students, who can't take the MBTA trains home after they shut down around 1 a.m. Harvard is also one of the few area schools that does not participate in the T's student discount program.

"The T needs to build a line from Harvard Square to Kenmore," says Jeffrey A. Lieberman '97. "Whenever you want to go somewhere besides downtown Boston, you have to go all the way downtown and then come back."

Boston Appeal

Harvard's viewbook for prospective first-years pitches Boston as "The Hub," offering attractions ranging from the Freedom Trail to the Patriots football games.

The fact that Harvard is close to Boston makes high school seniors "much more likely to visit and to apply," says Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons '67.

For many Harvard students, the pitch works.

"It was one of the primary reasons I picked [Harvard]," says Michael K. Kahan '96.

According to Fitzsimmons, a majority of students say Boston played a part in their decision to come to Harvard.

"People do mention the Boston/Cambridge area as one of the major determinants to come here," Fitzsimmons says. "Usually between 60 to 65 percent [of students] will say that location was important or very important in their decision, along with many other factors."