- Class: Sophomore
- Major: Economics
- Gender: F
- High School: Hunter College High School
- Transfer Student: N
Harvard is completely overwhelming. In every way imaginable: academics, socially, extra-curricular-wise, etc, and it's extremely important to stay grounded and true to yourself. It's easy to feel completely overshadowed by everyone, and the best mentality is to celebrate the achievements of everyone around you while figuring out your own path and interests. The town around is great - Cambridge has some great stores/restaurants, and it's a nice break from campus. The best thing about Harvard is the people you meet - I've met some truly extraordinary people here, all of whom are talented and passionate about what they do.
If you're not careful, classes at Harvard can be extremely intense and competitive. The pre-med and pre-investment banking courses (economics, statistics, etc) can be cutthroat, so be prepared to invest a lot of time in these courses. Take a balanced courseload and don't discount the importance of humanities courses in making up a well-rounded tutorial. As an economics and pre-med concentrator, I've sometimes given the humanities courses short shrift, much to my intellectual development's dismay. I think that education at Harvard is geared toward learning, usually, but it's very much up to the student what they want to make of their college education. You can go through Harvard never having read Socrates or heard of Mahler, but Harvard's requirements make it harder to do so. The most unique class I've taken is my Economics tutorial - which consists of five students and an economics graduate student as the teacher. Meeting biweekly, classes consist of discussion of 3-4 economics papers that cover a variety of topics, from health to psychology to history to the philosophy of science. The major project is writing, basically, an economics paper, and it's been one of the most difficult things I've had to do academically thus far.
Harvard's student body is extremely diverse - Harvard prides itself on accepting a variety of people. But, since the school is so big it's easy to fall into your own niche and not interact with a variety of people. That's where extra-curriculars are key. Students are pretty casual, for the most part, though there are some amazing people who manage to look completely polished every single day. Harvard's student body, to me so far, doesn't seem so politically involved, at least in comparison to my high school which had the New York Times delivered practically for free every morning and everyone would discuss the hot-button topics of the day. I feel that hte political discourse at the school could stand to improve much. I miss just sitting around in the hallways discussing another blunder by George Bush or analyzing the world events of the day. Students definitely talk about how much they'll earn one day - especially when it comes around recruiting time.
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