26 Vocab Words For the Class of 2026
With the return to campus, we’ve seen the return to our favorite Harvard lingo that we know and love (and hate). From “Berg” to “paff” to “basty” to “HUA,” not even Harvard students can keep up with the new vernacular, let alone the class of 2026. If you’re a pre-frosh or even just a Havard student who’s a little lost, look no further — we’re proud to present to you Flyby’s annual Harvard lingo breakdown: Class of 2026 edition.
An abbreviation for the famous Harvard Yard. As a first-year, you’ll be randomly housed in one of the dorms facing the Yard, greeted with a beautiful view of the greenery and slightly less beautiful view of the tourists each morning.
While first-year students reside in the Yard, upperclassmen at Harvard live out their next three years in one of the 12 Harvard Houses, each complete with their own dhall (see below), gym, library, and amenities such as art studios and gaming rooms.
Home to three of the Harvard upperclassmen houses, the Quad boasts a beautiful lawn, cute dogs, and great eateries. Oh, and a fifteen minute walk to the Square, which Quadlings (Quad residents) will tell you really isn’t that far, no seriously, especially if you take the Shuttle or that shortcut.
Short for the Science and Engineering Complex, the SEC is located across the Charles River and houses many computer science and engineering classes and labs. Though the distance can be daunting, Harvard provides shuttles to and from dorms to the SEC and there’s even a Trader Joe’s (<3) across the street to make up for the distance.
An abbreviation for Annenberg, the first-year-only dining hall. Imagine paying hundreds? thousands? hundreds of thousands? to have a building named after you, only for students to give it a heinous nickname. Oh well, we do it anyway.
Short for dining hall, staffed by Harvard University Dining Services workers, some of the nicest folks you’ll meet on campus!
Located in Thayer basement, the Quoffice is Harvard’s official resource for queer students. The Quoffice strives “create a community where BGLTQ students can thrive and where all students are well-equipped to engage knowledgeably and compassionately with regard to gender and sexuality.”
Located in Canaday basement, the Harvard College Women’s Center puts on awesome programming related to women and gender and is also home to very cozy couches, incredible staff, and a wide collection of teas for when you just want to relax!
Harvard’s most famous 24/7 library. At any hour, you’ll find students cramming problem sets, writing essays, or enjoying a cup of coffee at Lamont Café.
Harvard’s most famous library, period. For those aspiring to the dark academia aesthetic, Widener’s got your back with beautiful art, marble floors, and people who will glare at you for checking your phone.
Cabot (AKA NOT CABOT HOUSE)
The 24/7 Cabot Science Library is located within the Science Center and is the home of late night group psetting (see below), not to be mistaken for Cabot House, one of the upperclassmen houses located in (see above) The Quad.
15-30 students that are your main residential community your freshman year – typically either a portion or floor of a first year dorm. You’ll be getting oriented together and have frequent study breaks with lots of free food and your first year advising network (see below)!
First Year Advising
Peer Advising Fellow. PAFs are upperclassmen who don’t live with you but offer great advice about classes, extracurriculars, and general Harvard life.
Proctors, usually graduate students who live with you, lead your first-year entryway, hosting orientation events, study breaks throughout the year, and can continually serve as a great resource for all things Harvard.
Office hours / help room
A place to gawk at your hot TF A place to get help on your homework or get your questions answered by course staff
Math Question Center. Your social life if you take any math class. Typically a classroom with about 1 desk for every 3 people where you can ask all your questions about your pset (see below) due tomorrow.
Problem set. A series of questions assigned by STEM classes that will probably be significantly harder than any homework assignment from high school.
Also known as “recitation” at other universities. Held for larger lecture classes, section is a smaller group setting led by a TF to review or expand on lecture material.
That one kid in high school who corrects the teacher when they’re talking? In college, we call them Section Kid. The respectful ones may have pretty strong triceps from raising their hand all the time. The less respectful ones won’t raise their hand at all. They’ll always say a lot without saying anything at all and they’ll have something to say about everything. Don’t be Section Kid.
The ARC or Academic Resource Center is Harvard’s peer tutoring center, offering one-on-one support in most big classes at Harvard, many of which you’ll take your first year. And if you do well in a class, you can get paid to work at the ARC as a tutor too!
The app that ruins your day when you find out your midterm scores have been released. Canvas is a central platform (both a website and a mobile app) where your instructor will post course-related documents including assignments and syllabi and where you turn in your homework (and find out how well you did on it).
TF, CA, PSL
TF: Teaching fellow. Can be a grad student, sometimes a fellow undergrad, responsible for grading homework, hosting office hours, and teaching section bailing you out when you’re lost about what’s happening in class after you decided to skip every lecture that week.
CA: Like TFs, but they only grade your homework and host office hours. Make use of them.
PSL: Not your favorite Starbucks drink. Short for Peer Study Leaders, who are undergrads who previously took the course, did well, and now volunteer to spend their time answering your questions about the pset the night before it’s due.
Other Useful Terms
The Harvard-way of saying you have to do some stuff (attending events, meeting members, and doing small projects or assignments) before you can officially join a club. A “completion” comp means you can join a club as long as you finish the comp! A “competitive” comp means that a club only takes a certain number of people and may make cuts during the comp process. Don’t worry, most comps are completion-based, and for the ones that aren’t, you can always try comping again if it doesn’t work out the first time!
A futile attempt to coordinate students to schedule a 30 minute meeting that probably could have been an email
Harvard University Dining Services. Pronounced “Hudds”. Harvard students secretly don’t mind HUDS but will pretend not to like it.
Abbreviation of “Tasty Burger Basement” Some may call it “lit,” some may call it “cursed”. Regardless, you’re guaranteed a good time if you’ve got an event there.
"Are you rolling Tasty Basty tonight?"
"LAX is throwing tonight."
Shameless self-promo: The people who wrote this article. Flyby is The Blog of The Crimson (Harvard’s student-run daily newspaper), which means we’re like Buzzfeed, but for Harvard. So make sure to check out the rest of our Visitas feature and other #relatable content! And if you want to join us in the fall, our comp (see: comp) is a chill, completion-based process!
The UC / HUA (?????)
Sorry for all you incoming class presidents hoping to continue your legacy at Harvard with starry eyes. Here’s the trainwreck that is Harvard’s student government: until a few months ago, we had the UC, a.k.a the Undergraduate Council, but people always complained that IT didn’t really do much. So this guy, Michael Cheng, ran for president on the campaign of “defunding the UC.” And what do you know, he won. So a few days ago he not only “defunded” the old student government, but annihilated it and started a new one — the HUA or Harvard Undergraduate Association. And then he resigned. Most people are either amused or enraged, but that’s where we’re at.
The profession that roughly one in seven Harvard undergraduates end up in immediately after graduation. Basically, it involves working at one company that works for a bunch of other companies. In the process, you make a lot of money and travel a lot. No one knows what consulting is as a freshmen, but everyone eventually learns. When someone who has plans to change the world decides they want to do consulting instead, we call it selling out.
“Hey man, I wanna tell you something but you can’t judge.”
“What? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah.. I just realized…I wanna do consulting this summer.”
“But what about your big dreams of educating children?”
“...Nah I’m selling out”