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Houses Select New Tutors

House Administrators and Undergraduates Collaborate on the Selection of House Tutors

By Monika L. S. Robbins and Hana N. Rouse, Crimson Staff Writers

Following a competitive application process, the Houses have hired 69 new resident tutors to advise undergraduates next year.

These tutors­—who are usually Harvard or MIT graduate students—receive free room and board in exchange for monitoring undergraduates.

The number of tutors hired varied widely from House to House—Dunster hired nine new tutors while Lowell hired just two.

According to House staff, the number of open tutor positions varies each year, depending on the number of tutors departing at the end of the current school year.

Most Houses receive over 200 applications—this year Currier had 247 applicants and Cabot received about 230.

Eliot received only 180 applicants for its eight available tutor positions.

Eliot House Master Gail A. O’Keefe said she did not know the reason for this low number, but that House administrators were looking into the issue to increase numbers for next year.

Although preliminary decisions have been completed, tutor selection remains an ongoing process, as some current House tutors have yet to finalize their plans for the coming year.

Additionally, prospective tutors were able to apply to multiple Houses—an option many took advantage of.

Some applicants receive offers from multiple Houses, which can extend offers to additional tutors if their initial hires turn them down.

The application process varies throughout the Houses, but generally involves a written application as well as a series of interviews.

Many Houses also seek students’ opinions as part of the selection process.

Cabot House Master Rakesh Khurana said that the masters worked with tutors and students to find candidates with “Cabot House values” who would fit in well with the House community.

According to Lowell House tutor Van C. Tran, his House, which requires that candidates have a separate interview with House administrators and with undergraduates, highly values student input.

“The students are invited to meet with us and tell us their reactions to every candidate,” Tran said.

He said that Lowell looks for tutors that have a good balance of academic prowess and advising skills.

“I have seen this before—brilliant people who just can’t advise, who don’t know how to advise,” Tran said. “That happens a lot.”

Adams House Master John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67 said that tutor selection is one of the main ways House Masters can maintain House identity.

Since students are randomly assigned, tutors can help to make the House experience unique, Palfrey said.

Adams House involves students and current tutors in the selection process, he said, though House Masters make the final decisions.

—Staff writer Monika L.S. Robbins can be reached at mrobbins@college.harvard.edu. —Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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