Harvard Traditions

December 31, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Harvard Traditions

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, you will find Harvard University, a prominent private research institution. It is the oldest higher education institution in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. Harvard College was founded in 1636 and named after its first benefactor, the Puritan minister, John Harvard. Throughout the years, the institution has established Harvard traditions practiced even today.

Being a student at Harvard does not only involve pure academics; you will also find yourself enjoying its rich traditions and learning about its worthwhile history. You will also learn how to get involved in the school’s active student communities and make friends with people from many different backgrounds.

At AdmissionSight, our commitment to guiding each student through the difficulties of the admission process has remained constant throughout the years. Our dependable consulting ensures that your application will bring out the best in you. In the next parts of this article, we’ll talk about the important Harvard traditions and how they make a college student’s life more active.

Are academics at Harvard hard?

Are academics at Harvard hard? The admissions process at Harvard University is known to be one of the most competitive in the world. You might be worried about the school’s very low acceptance rate, but your chances of getting in depend on many things, like your GPA, how well you do on standardized tests, your leadership and community work, your intellectual interests, and more.

Harvard campus with students

When determining who will be admitted to Harvard, the institution looks at each applicant as a whole person, taking into account both their character and their intellectual abilities. The institution makes a concerted effort to give each application careful thought so that it can learn as much as possible about the academic interests, personal experiences, and extracurricular skills of potential students.

The Harvard faculty is comprised of illustrious individuals, including Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners and other pioneers in their respective professions. There are several opportunities for undergraduate students to interact with faculty members outside of the classroom. By taking part in Academic Life Workshops, students also learn important skills that can help them in both school and the workplace.

In order to experience Harvard traditions, you should be able to think critically, reason analytically, and write coherently as a result of the university’s unwavering dedication to the liberal arts and sciences, which serve as the academic life’s foundation. Every student is required to take General Education classes, which are designed to get them thinking about how the concepts they learn in class relate to the real world.

Students will wrestle with challenging themes and pressing concerns, such as global warming, racism, and the rise of artificial intelligence, among a plethora of other topics.

Approximately half of the students choose to participate in the honors program offered by their concentration. With the instructor’s approval, students may also construct their own major focus that caters to a “uniquely difficult academic goal.” Students have the option of pursuing an additional field (equivalent to a minor).

Students who enter Harvard with advanced standing have the opportunity to apply to receive a master’s degree in select fields during their fourth year of study. They also have the ability to cross-enroll at Harvard’s graduate schools as well as other institutions in Cambridge or Boston and attend classes there.

In addition, Harvard is affiliated with both the New England Conservatory and the Berklee College of Music, so students can earn degrees from both institutions simultaneously. Students in the program get a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master’s degree from one of these two well-known schools of music.

Undergraduates can also do research through the Harvard Research Program, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, the Faculty Aide Program, and a number of other organizations.

In their time as undergraduates, more than half of the students at Harvard College study in another country. Students can go to universities like Cambridge or Oxford, as well as schools in Argentina, Cameroon, Chile, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, or Turkey. This has become one of the Harvard traditions that’s known almost everywhere.

What is Harvard looking for in a student? It is not enough to have excellent grades and scores on standardized tests in order to impress admissions officers at elite colleges such as Harvard because practically all of the applicants have exceptional academic credentials. If you are the type of student that the university is looking for, then you have a better chance of getting accepted than other applicants.

A building inside the Harvard campus where legacy admission is still being practiced

For instance, Harvard places a high value on students who are actively involved in their communities and who have shown that they are capable of leadership. The university gives admission preference to students who have already made an impact in their communities through volunteer and charity work or leadership, rather than giving preference to students who have perfect academic records.

Students can show off these skills in many different ways, such as in the extracurricular essays they write and the extracurricular activities they take part in.

Intellectualism is a trait that is highly valued at Harvard, particularly in the fields of social science and the humanities, due to the university’s emphasis on interdisciplinary study. Candidates who have interesting academic backgrounds and who have linked their academic interests to research, fieldwork, or other extracurricular activities have an edge over those who don’t.

List of Harvard Traditions

If you have already reached this part, then you are eager to learn about the list of Harvard traditions, which will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

The Game

The annual event known as “The Game” is one of the most time-honored traditions that can be found at Harvard. This event honors the long-standing rivalry between the Harvard Crimson and the Yale Bulldogs and is about much more than just a football game. There are a number of other events that are commemorated at Harvard, but none of them attract as many people as The Game does.

The football rivalry between Harvard and Yale dates back much further in time, and the schools take turns serving as visitors and hosts for the game each year. It is the most important sporting event of the year, and for many students, it is the only sporting event they will ever attend.

The two competing schools will frequently make scathing and amusing movies about each other and post them on YouTube as part of the pregame preparations. With this, there’s an apparent flood of excitement and school spirit. The attendance is very impressive, and the tailgate that takes place before the game is always a good time.


Yardfest is a celebration that happens during the spring semester. It has music, BBQ, and other things to do.

Cultural Rhythms

Cultural Rhythms is a celebration of different cultures that includes performances by over thirty different student organizations.

Housing Day

Housing Day is one of the most popular Harvard traditions. At the end of your freshman year, you and a group of friends are given an upperclassman house in which you will stay for the next three years. Freshmen frequently begin to wish for particular houses even before the big day finally arrives, because each house has a unique layout, benefits, personality, staff, resident dean, and amount of grandeur. Additionally, each house has a different resident dean.

The Harvard University square at night

Johnston Gate

The Johnston Gate is the entrance to Harvard Yard and is the point of entry for all enthusiastic first-year students on the day of move-in. According to urban legend, if you walk through the gate one more time before graduation, you won’t receive your diploma. The smaller gates on the sides are ignored.

John Harvard Statue

The John Harvard Statue is sometimes referred to as the “statue of three lies” due to the fact that the figure depicted on the statue is not actually John Harvard; that John Harvard was not the actual founder of the university; and that the university did not receive the funding necessary to open until 1638. Several people believe that touching the now very golden foot will bring good luck.

Jumping off Weeks Bridge

Despite worries over the Charles River’s water quality, each year a large number of college students leap off Weeks Bridge into the river in order to cross “jumping off Weeks Bridge” off their list of things to do before graduating.

Primal Scream

One of the unique Harvard traditions is the Primal Scream, wherein a substantial number of brave individuals strip naked at the stroke of midnight the night before final exams, and then they rush about Harvard Yard screaming and generally letting loose. It occurs before the end of the academic year and during the spring semester, but on a much smaller scale.

Does Harvard have student clubs?

Does Harvard have student clubs? At Harvard, more than 450 student clubs cover a wide range of interests, from photography and politics to dancing and debate, and everything in between. You may join any club that matches your interests.

Student Organization Fair

The Student Organization Fair is an annual tradition that takes place during the first week of the semester and provides another opportunity for students to become familiar with student organizations. You can find the following topics to choose from in such clubs:

  • Academic and Pre-Professional
  • College Life
  • Creative and Performing Arts
  • Cultural and Racial Initiatives
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Government and Politics
  • Health and Wellness
  • Hobbies and Special Interests
  • Media and Publications
  • Peer Counseling and Peer Education
  • Public Service
  • Women’s Initiatives
  • Religious and Spiritual

With more than four hundred student organizations, the university has much to offer students who are interested in the arts, literature, music, religion, politics, writing, multicultural organizations, or any combination of these fields. The Harvard Lampoon is one of the humor publications that has been continuously published for the longest amount of time around the globe.

Other notable organizations include Act on a Dream, which engages students in learning about and advocating for immigration reform; and Beekeepers, which, as the name suggests, focuses on beekeeping. Both of these organizations are important in their respective fields.

Is there a Greek life at Harvard?

With the Harvard traditions, a lot of people might be wondering, “Is there a Greek life at Harvard?” There are hardly any of what are known as “Greek Life” national fraternities at this institution. However, there are establishments known as “Final Clubs,” which are exclusive to Harvard and can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

There are approximately eight clubs, with each having between twelve and twenty members drawn from each of the sophomores, juniors, and seniors; the total number of undergraduate members ranges from approximately thirty to perhaps eighty individuals.

A Harvard signage

They are known as “Final Clubs” because once a person joins one of them, which often happens in the middle of their second year of school, they are unable to join any of the other Final Clubs after that.

There is no affiliation between the university and the “Final Clubs” in any way. They do not get together on the grounds of the university. They have been the owners of their own properties in and around Harvard Square for well over a century.

Some homeowners frequently invite guests into their homes, while others never allow strangers inside. Before very recently, none of them accepted female members. Now some do. Although some of them have one or two guest rooms, they do not offer conventional sleeping arrangements.

They do sell alcoholic beverages and food, but meals are usually only available two days a week. They provide a tranquil environment in which to unwind. An invitation is the only way to join a club.

Despite the fact that the majority of club members come from affluent and elite prep school backgrounds, every club contains a sizeable population of members who do not conform to the “elitist” profile, including members of underrepresented groups. At Harvard, membership in the final club does not carry with it any sort of esteem or reputation.

It’s known that Harvard traditions form memorable friendships, and this is also the case for these clubs. Camaraderie is typically something that members of a particular club look forward to experiencing as a benefit of their membership. The only possible “connection” to Harvard is that in order to join, you have to be an undergraduate student at Harvard and you can’t be a member of another “Final Club” on campus.

There are already a few female Final Clubs at Harvard, although those clubs that adhere to a strict one-gender policy do not have permission to sell alcoholic beverages. Most of the time, they get around this rule by giving students over 21 their own lock boxes that they can use to store alcoholic drinks while they are on club grounds.

The majority of universities in the Ivy League do not have typical “Greek Life” fraternities due to the fact that the majority of Ivy League colleges were founded decades before the “Greek Life” fraternity system became popular. Some Harvard students are provided with a close-knit group of cherished friends, typically for the rest of their lives, by the Final Clubs, which shun publicity and place a high emphasis on their members’ personal space.

Does Harvard have good athletics?

Does Harvard have good athletics? Harvard University is the home of 42 of the nation’s best Division I college athletic teams. Their great varsity team members always compete at a high level, help Crimson pride grow on campus, and keep up the great tradition of Harvard Athletics.

In addition to Harvard traditions, the institution also has the greatest number of Division I sports teams in the United States, with 42. The Crimson competes in the Ivy League as well. Among the varsity sports are baseball, basketball, crew, cross-country, fencing, field hockey, football, and golf.

There are also club teams for aikido, archery, badminton, ballroom dancing, basketball, bowling, boxing, cheerleading, hapkido, juggling, and jiu-jitsu at the university. There are intramural sports activities available for students at both undergraduate colleges and graduate institutions.

How diverse is Harvard?

How diverse is Harvard? The undergraduate student body at Harvard comes from approximately 80 different nations, including all 50 of the United States. Students come from public schools, private schools, suburbs, farmlands, and cities, and the admissions process makes a special effort to include those students who come from a variety of geographic origins.

Harvard University gate

Although international students account for 12.7% of all undergraduates and 12.3% of all degree-seeking undergraduates, 84% of Harvard’s undergraduates come from outside of Massachusetts.

When choosing students to enroll, Harvard takes into account their geographical residence. This means that they might give applicants from underrepresented states or general geographic areas, such as the Midwest, more attention.

Harvard’s undergraduate population is varied, with white students making up 37.1% of the total. You can find a detailed breakdown of the ethnic composition of the college’s degree-seeking undergraduate students in the table below.

Student Ethnicity Percentage of Students
Hispanic/Latino 10.9
Black or African American 8.9
White 37.1
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.2
Asian 21.4
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.04
Two or more races, non-Hispanic 7.8
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 1.4

Harvard traditions can surely give a lot of unforgettable memories for students. Your college life at this prestigious institution won’t be complete and full of enjoyable memories without those traditions mentioned earlier. If Harvard is your dream college and learning about its remarkable traditions has strongly convinced you to enroll, we at AdmissionSight are here to provide our quality consulting service and help you achieve your goals. Contact us to learn about our service from our trusted team.







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