Advice From: Admin, Faculty, and Staff

By Meera S. Nair

Unsure of how to make a college decision in these ~unprecedented times~ when the closest you’ll get to campus is the Google Maps street view of Harvard Square? Confused might be an understatement... so, here’s some advice from Harvard administrators, faculty, and staff on how to make the most of your Virtual Visitas weekend.

From Administrators

“I know that this decision is hard, but what a wonderful decision to have in that you have been admitted to Harvard College! Virtual Visitas will give students a peek into the breadth and depth of opportunities here at Harvard College and I recommend that prospective first-year students participate in as many academic, social, cultural, spiritual, and student organization programs as they can. Above all, I recommend that they meet as many current students as possible — ask questions about their academic interests, research, what Yard life and House life are like, student activities, internships and career paths, campus culture, and campus traditions. We are many communities within one large and diverse Harvard College community. This place is amazing, but the most remarkable part of the Harvard College community is the students with whom prospective students will, live, learn, and engage with. I find Harvard College students to be deeply intellectually curious, compassionate, kind, supportive of one another, and interested in learning about themselves and others while they are here. Prospective students have the opportunity to join a student body that reflect multiple and intersecting identities, background, and experiences. It is a wonderful place, and we hope you will join us!”

– Katherine G. O’Dair, Dean of Students

From Faculty

“Connect!! To other Visitas-ers, to current students, *and* to faculty. Get personal!! Get beyond those predictable in-fact,-it's-on-the-website-type questions. You'll find that most Harvard faculty members — contrary to their reputation for being too exalted and too busy to devote time to undergraduates — are as excited to meet you as you are to meet them.”

– Andrew J. Berry, Assistant Head Tutor of Integrative Biology and Lecturer on Organismic & Evolutionary Biology

“Go to office hours and take advantage of opportunities to get to know your professors and instructors. Take classes or pursue subjects that you’re really curious or excited about, even if they don’t fit into preconceived notions of what you want to study/do down the road. Don’t get caught up in the comparison game, which is easy to do at Harvard — just do what you care about. And finally, the best writing happens over time, try to start early when you can!”

– Alexandra J. Gold, Preceptor, Harvard Writing Program

“Enjoy the summer; spend some time with the Course Catalog, looking for a smaller course that interests you for its own sake. Plan on taking a freshman seminar; find an activity or cause that will take you outside of yourself.”

– Richard F. Thomas, George Martin Lane Professor of Classics

“Explore the wide range of courses on offer by visiting department websites (like Music!). Of course, there are the well-known offerings that attract hundreds of students each year, but there are also hidden diamonds with world-class artists. My.Harvard and word-of-mouth are great places to start, but don't let those be your only resources.”

– Michael S. Uy, Lecturer and Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, Music Department, PhD '17

“Take advantage of every opportunity you can to connect in person with the people around you. Study together with a friend, eat breakfast with a stranger sitting alone in the dining hall, visit a professor in their office, say hello (and thank you!) to a custodial worker, and go to as many study breaks and student events as possible. This past year has shown us how quickly we can lose the ability to share time and space with those around us. You will have the privilege of learning and living with some of the most remarkable people from around the world, so don't take that privilege for granted! When you leave Harvard, you may forget many of the lessons you will learn in the classroom, but the experiences and memories you create with the people here will stay with you and define you long after you graduate.”

– Hakim J. Walker, Preceptor in Mathematics and First-Year Proctor

From Staff

“The Harvard International Office (HIO) is elated to welcome the Class of 2025 to campus this fall. The new class will join a rich and diverse community at Harvard including over 10,000 international students and scholars from 161 countries. We know visa and immigration can be stressful topics to navigate, especially during these unprecedented times. The entire HIO team is here to support our international students from their initial visa interview, arrival to campus, and throughout their time at Harvard.”

– Harvard International Office

“Think of Annenberg like you think of your kitchen at home. We have almost 80 staff members and 7 managers on site at any given time and we are all here to ensure you have the best dining experience possible. If you can’t find a specific condiment, if you want to know where we ​buy our tomatoes, if you have a particular ​medically diagnosed allergy or intolerance and are not sure what you can eat, don’t be afraid to come speak to us. You can text or email us too! We are looking forward to meeting you!”

– Andrew W. Camuso, Senior General Manager of Annenberg Dining Hall

As every student will tell you, the best thing about Harvard is the people — don’t hesitate to not just make connections with fellow students, but with cool faculty and staff too! Virtual events might never replace the real thing, but there are so many amazing communities waiting to welcome you to Harvard. So, Class of 2025, we hope you join us next fall (and comp Flyby, of course)!

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