Harvard Polls Parents About Students' Finances, Alcohol, and More

Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds emailed the parents of undergraduates an online survey this month containing questions about student life, academics, and financial aid.

The 11-page survey contains both fill-in-the-bubble and open-ended questions, many of which gauge parents’ satisfaction with their children’s undergraduate experience. One section asks parents to rate the extent to which they agree or disagree with statements including, “Intercollegiate (NCAA) athletics receive too much attention at Harvard” and “Alcohol plays too dominant a role in social life at Harvard.”

Another section addresses parents’ financial concerns. There, the statements they can agree or disagree with include, “It has been very difficult for us to pay for my child’s college education,” and “I am worried that my child will have trouble finding a job after graduation.”

A third section asks about their interactions with Harvard faculty and staff, as well as their engagement in campus events and with the University’s social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

The College will publish some of the results of the survey in the fall, Hammonds wrote in her email.

Harvard is conducting the survey as a member of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, a group of 31 private colleges and universities—including all eight Ivy League schools—that administers the survey every five years, among other polls and studies.

“Dean Hammonds believes these types of surveys are valuable tools in providing important information that can help inform future policy decisions,” Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Jeff Neal wrote in an email.

COFHE designed the survey, but the College changed the language of some of the questions to tailor them to Harvard, Neal wrote.

In her email, Hammonds wrote that that all responses will be confidential and will be analyzed by staff in Harvard’s Institutional Research Office.

—Staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins can be reached at


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