Friends and Couples Take on College

Friends and Couples Take on College
Judy Park

Alexandra L. Bradbury ’13 was at a horse race in Scotland with her best friend Nicola V. Maasdorp ’13 when the College Admissions Office called to tell her that she had been accepted to Harvard off the waitlist.

After learning of Bradbury’s admission, the pair decided to bet on horses—and promptly lost.

“It was too much good luck for one day,” Bradbury muses.

Inseparable since meeting in chemistry class at age 14, Bradbury and Maasdorp grew up together in Zimbabwe and both applied to Harvard during their final year of high school.

Although Maasdorp was accepted during the normal admissions cycle, Bradbury was waitlisted until the summer.


“I was like, ‘C’mon, Harvard, just hurry up and call her,’” recalls Maasdorp of the agonizing few months before they learned they would be spending their college years together. “And then they called, and Alex was just shell-shocked. But I was over the moon.”

Bradbury and Maasdorp are among a number of pairs on campus—both romantic and platonic—who spent their high school years together before both coming to Harvard. While these couples and best friends sometimes struggle to maintain a balance between spending time with each other and their new college friends, the consensus is clear: Harvard is even better when your best friend forever is right down the hall.


Previously established friendships among freshmen are hardly new at Harvard. For many years, the administration even encouraged the phenomenon by allowing incoming freshmen to request roommates. However, that policy was terminated in the 1980s.

According to Dean of Freshman Thomas A. Dingman ’67, the change was made to widen the narrow social circles that tended to develop among high school friends.

“Under the old system, students were coming in with a built-in community,” says Dingman. “There wasn’t the incentive to go out and meet people.”

Although they can no longer select their roommates, freshmen have largely embraced the change, says Dingman.

In fact, Dingman says he thinks that some freshmen are relieved to have the stress of choosing a roommate taken out of their hands. He cites a former freshman from a Boston-area high school who came to Harvard with many high school friends—all of whom would have wanted to be her roommate, he recalls she said.

According to Dingman, the student told him “how nice it had been to not have to confront that decision.”



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