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Seniors satisfied overall; extracurriculars get high marks

By Ying Wang, Crimson Staff Writer

Nearly four out of five seniors would still choose Harvard for college if they could pick again, with 85 percent saying they were satisfied with their overall college experiences.

This year’s graduates were more satisfied with their cumulative experiences than with any particular part—whether academics, extracurricular activities, or social life—according to a Crimson survey that polled more than 600 seniors. Women were slightly more satisfied than men in each area, the survey found.

Satisfaction with extracurricular activities was higher than with academics or social life, with 80 percent reporting that they were very satisfied or generally satisfied.

Academic satisfaction accounted for 57 percent of the overall satisfaction, social satisfaction for 27 percent, extracurricular satisfaction for 12 percent, and House satisfaction for 4 percent.

As the majority of seniors depart Harvard with positive impressions of their undergraduate experience, some say that they wouldn’t mind staying longer.
“I could do another 12 to 16 years here,” Philip R. Goldfarb ’08 said. “I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d be a better academic or have a better social experience.”


Seniors with higher grade point averages were more satisfied overall and were more likely to choose Harvard again.

The average self-reported GPA was 3.53, and the average for men and women did not differ significantly. The GPA for varsity athletes was .14 lower and .11 lower for those involved in single-sex social clubs, including final clubs, fraternities, and sororities.

There were no significant differences in the average GPA across the disciplines. Those in the traditionally larger concentrations were less satisfied with their departments than their peers in smaller concentrations.
Earth and planetary sciences topped the list, followed by visual and environmental studies. Economics and government, two of the most popular concentrations, were near the bottom.

The disparities in satisfaction revolve around advising and access to tutorials, said Jay M. Harris, who chairs the committee tasked with creating the new general education curriculum. “In many ways this is a straight numbers problem,” he said.

Avery L. Williams ’08, a history and science concentrator, said that she had a positive experience with her concentration. She added that the department, which is small, was able to provide exceptional advising and individual attention.

Seniors who completed a thesis were generally more satisfied with their concentration and academic experience than those who dropped their thesis or did not write one at all. They also reported a higher GPA.

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