Summer in Harvard Square

College freshmen get tons of advice from well-wishing family members, friends, and of course Buzzfeed articles. The advice usually revolves around the same, oft-repeated but usually not helpful platitudes about attending office hours and "getting involved" at school. Let's dispense with the cliches for a moment. Here are some real, no-BS tips we wish we had received our freshman year. You won't hear about these at your entryway meeting.


While procrastination is usually slammed as the number one enemy of your GPA, experience has shown that the worst thing you can do to your productivity is fight your innate work rhythm. Everyone has different energy peaks, so forcing yourself to do your work in the morning (yuck) or first thing after classes will just result in you wasting your slump hours on rereading the same paragraph instead of recharging with a nap. You should try to adjust your schedule around what feels right instead of what people are telling you is right.

Don’t study as much

Do well and bury yourself in material that pertains to your intellectual passions, but don't get hellbent on eking out perfect academic performance in general. Obviously, you're attending Harvard to study, but college is so much more than the classes you take. You'll miss out on a bunch if you spend your hours trying to edge your 3.95 GPA up to a 4.0.

Listen to lectures at 1.5x speed.

If your lectures are recorded, we find it’s actually easier to understand and remember the material if it’s playing at a slightly slower speed than at the neck-breaking pace of 2x (and who has time for 1x anyways?).

Drink coffee strategically

Drinking coffee for productivity is all about gaming the law of diminishing returns. So it's not a great idea to blow your BoardPlus on Lamcaf macchiatos all at once or your body will acclimate to the caffeine, making it less potent.

Sit alone

It’s true that college is where you hone your social skills and forge lifelong friendships. However, this common sentiment can do more harm than good by forcing frosh to cling to the first couple of people they meet in pre-orientation and travel in insufferable packs of eight to stave off the freshman fear of being alone. That fear not only contributes to Harvard's toxic environment of fakeness (yeah, we're calling y'all out), but also prevents you from meeting people independently, outside of the pressure of Opening Days. Trust us, the best college friendships are intentional and rooted in common interests and passions instead of common fears of not having anyone to pregame with.

And by the way, sitting in the Berg alone is not weird. It's mysterious.

Schedule a cry session

Watch a tearjerker or listen to a Celine Dion ballad to let go of bottled up stress. It may sound lame, but it prevents you from breaking down in public come midterm season.

Sneak alcohol into events

Stuff your Rubinoff into a baguette or wrap the bottle in a tortilla shell like a burrito. Remember that drinking in freshmen dorms, the Yard or if you’re not 21 is illegal and against College policy.

Finally, the most important advice for Harvard students (aside from “comp the Crimson”) is to not compare yourself to anyone and avoid FOMO (the fear of missing out). Not a single one of your peers has any idea what’s happening and no one is having as much fun as you think, so relax, enjoy the ride and maybe ditch the lanyard. You’ll thank us later.