- Class: Sophomore
- Major: Economics
- Gender: F
- High School: Northgate High School
- Transfer Student: N
Harvard's beautiful -- it takes a while to realize that. One thing you have to know when coming to Harvard is not to set overly high expectations because you'll be let down sooner or later. When I first came to Harvard, I felt disoriented -- I expected life to be perfect and the school to accommodate to my every needs. But, after having dashes of realism slapped to my face, I realized that would never happen and that Harvard is great as it is. If you go to Harvard, you're going to have to deal with the uncomfortable situation of people asking you where you go and then being shocked to hear the answer. It's a bit awkward because they usually react by believing you to be a brilliant person destined for greatness, to which you have to respond with a combination of modesty and agreement. I spend most of my time in my dorm room. I do frequent the dining halls, libraries, other people's rooms regularly though. On the weekends, when I feel overloaded, I like to go to the various shopping malls we have (3 big ones: Downtown Boston, Cambridgeside Galleria, Prudential). Boston's a great town and I'm excited to exploring it more. The complaints I have about Harvard's administration are I feel they could really do more in terms of school food and school-wide events. The food isn't great -- with that much money, shouldn't we have better food? Comparatively, though, I feel it's equivalent or a little better than most college campuses, so maybe I'm just a bit spoiled. As for school-wide events, Harvard seems to pool a lot of money into individual club events and such. There aren't many school-wide events for people to attend without club affiliation. Of course, club events are usually open to everyone, but still, it'd be nice to have more "Harvard" events to increase school pride. There is of course a lot of school pride about Harvard. Most everyone is happy that they go here and the "prestige" it lends to their self-esteem. For the most part, Harvard school pride isn't verbalized however. There is more overt "house" pride (upperclassmen are separated into Houses, where they stay from sophomore to senior year).
Professors generally don't know your name unless you frequent their office hours constantly, which most people don't. This is in contrast to Teaching Fellows and Section Leaders who almost always know your name (since sections are taught in 15-30 people groups). My favorite class was Statistics because 1) the material was very interesting and applicable to real-life and 2) the professor genuinely cared about helping his students and held many office hours. My least favorite class was an animation studio class. It required so many hours of mindless drawing and the professor was pretty mean, too. Class participation is common when it affects your grade. If not, it's not uncommon nor common. Students are competitive but they often work with each other because not only is it nice to have a study friend, but it can be very beneficial to your grade. I feel that many students could not get by well if they did not have a good study group. Harvard's academic requirements are not hard; in particular, the requirements for my concentration (Economics) are relatively lax. There are some concentrations, however, that are very, very tough (Physical and Chemical Biology, Physics, etc.). We do have core requirements which can be a bother, though. Nevertheless, the core requirements allow for a full "liberal arts" experience. Education at Harvard is geared toward learning for its own sake. However, after going through its tough curriculum, most jobs will be happy to take you.
There are so many groups on campus that no student would feel out of place at Harvard. It can be hard to find the group that fits you, however, so make sure to sign up for list-serves (email lists) and attend lots of introductory meetings. Most students dress casually to class -- t-shirt and jeans are the norm. Different types of students do interact and are very open to each other, but for some reason the blacks always find the blacks, the asians always find the asians, etc. I feel that there can be a cultural barrier that is impossible to breach, where ever you are. Students are definitely politically aware and it is easy to get involved with a group of your political stances. Students rarely talk about how much they will earn in one day or their grades and SAT scores. I've heard that we're just not supposed to talk about our scores with each other.
The Best Things
Great people, especially my boyfriend.
The Worst Things
Not enough money put toward places that are visible to all students.