What Is It Like to Attend Harvard?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students studying on a table.

What Is It Like to Attend Harvard?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to step attend Harvard as a student? To live, learn, and thrive in one of the world’s most prestigious universities? This article provides a glimpse into the unique experiences that define the Harvard journey, from admission to graduation.

Understanding Harvard’s Prestige

Many are drawn to Harvard not only for its rigorous academic programs and opportunities, but also for its storied history and acclaimed status. Uncovering the roots of this prestige begins with understanding Harvard’s evolution and global impact.

Three students talking while using a laptop.

The History of Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Predating the country itself, Harvard’s long history is intrinsically intertwined with that of America, contributing to its distinct identity. From its humble beginnings as a small college with a handful of students, Harvard has grown into a renowned university with a sprawling campus and a diverse student body.

Throughout its history, Harvard has weathered various challenges and transformations. It played a crucial role in shaping the intellectual landscape of the United States during the Revolutionary War and the formation of the nation. It also witnessed significant social and cultural changes, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of women’s rights. Today, Harvard stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of an institution that has stood the test of time.

Harvard’s reputation as a center of intellectual excellence is not unfounded. The university has been a breeding ground for some of the greatest minds in history. From presidents and Nobel laureates to Pulitzer Prize winners and groundbreaking scientists, Harvard’s alumni have left an indelible mark on the world. The university’s commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity and critical thinking has created an environment that nurtures innovation and empowers students to become leaders in their respective fields.

Harvard’s Global Reputation

Harvard’s prestige is not just national—it’s global. With an alumnus network stretching across continents and disciplines, the impact of Harvard’s academic prowess is felt worldwide. The university’s graduates have gone on to hold influential positions in governments, corporations, and organizations around the world, shaping policies and driving change.

Harvard’s global reputation is further reinforced by its commitment to international collaboration and research. The university actively seeks partnerships with institutions from all corners of the globe, fostering a diverse and inclusive academic community. This global perspective enriches the educational experience at Harvard and prepares students to navigate the complexities of an interconnected world.

Harvard’s consistent top rankings in various educational indexes are a testament to its global leadership in higher education. The university’s faculty members are renowned experts in their fields, conducting groundbreaking research that pushes the boundaries of knowledge. The resources and opportunities available to students at Harvard are unparalleled, providing them with the tools they need to excel in their chosen disciplines.

Beyond academia, Harvard’s global impact extends to its contributions to society. The university’s commitment to public service and social responsibility has led to initiatives and programs that address pressing global challenges. From pioneering medical breakthroughs to advocating for social justice, Harvard’s influence reaches far beyond the confines of its campus.

In conclusion, Harvard’s prestige is a result of its rich history, its global reputation, and its commitment to excellence. As a beacon of intellectual curiosity and innovation, Harvard continues to shape the world and inspire generations of students to strive for greatness.

The Admission Process: Getting into Harvard

The path to attending Harvard’s illustrious community is no easy feat—it’s a test of dedication, perseverance, and ambition. But fear not, for we are here to guide you through the intricate and fascinating journey of gaining admission to one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

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Harvard’s admission process is a complex and multifaceted endeavor, designed to identify the brightest minds and the most promising individuals who will thrive in its intellectually stimulating environment. Let’s delve deeper into the various factors that come into play when applying to Harvard.

The Role of SAT Scores and GPAs

Harvard’s admission process is holistic, meaning it considers more than just numbers for those who want to attend. However, there is no doubt that SAT scores and GPAs play a significant role. Given the competitiveness of Harvard’s applicant pool, outstanding academic records are almost a given among admitted students.

But what exactly does it mean to have outstanding academic records? It’s not just about achieving perfect scores or having a flawless transcript. Harvard seeks individuals who have not only excelled academically but have also demonstrated a deep intellectual curiosity, a thirst for knowledge, and a genuine passion for learning. It’s about going beyond the confines of the classroom and truly immersing oneself in the pursuit of knowledge.

Harvard’s admission officers carefully analyze SAT scores and GPAs, looking for patterns of academic excellence, consistency, and growth. They understand that academic achievements are not solely determined by numbers but also by the context in which they were achieved. They take into account the resources available to each applicant, the challenges they may have faced, and the personal circumstances that may have influenced their academic journey.

Furthermore, Harvard recognizes that intellectual potential cannot be encapsulated solely by standardized test scores or grades. They value creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills—qualities that cannot be easily quantified. So while SAT scores and GPAs are important, they are just pieces of a much larger puzzle that Harvard meticulously assembles to create a diverse and intellectually vibrant community.

The Importance of Extracurricular Activities

But high scores alone are not enough to attend Harvard. The university values individuality, leadership, and a demonstrated commitment to service. As such, a diverse range of extracurricular activities, from sports to volunteering, can showcase a candidate’s unique qualities and offer a glimpse into their potential to contribute to the Harvard community.

Extracurricular activities provide an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their passion, dedication, and ability to balance multiple commitments. Whether it’s captaining a sports team, leading a community service project, participating in a debate club, or engaging in artistic endeavors, Harvard seeks individuals who have actively pursued their interests and made a positive impact on their communities.

Participating in extracurricular activities not only allows applicants to showcase their talents and abilities but also helps them develop crucial life skills. It fosters teamwork, leadership, time management, and resilience—qualities that are highly valued at Harvard and beyond.

Harvard’s admission officers carefully review each applicant’s extracurricular involvements, looking for depth and breadth. They seek individuals who have shown a genuine commitment to their chosen pursuits, who have gone above and beyond in their endeavors, and who have made a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

It’s important to note that Harvard does not prioritize quantity over quality when it comes to extracurricular activities. They value depth of involvement and sustained commitment rather than a laundry list of superficial involvements. So, it’s not about how many activities you participate in, but rather the impact you have made and the personal growth you have experienced through your extracurricular pursuits.

As you embark on your journey towards Harvard, remember that the admission process is not just about meeting certain criteria or checking off boxes. It’s about showcasing your unique qualities, your intellectual potential, and your capacity to make a difference in the world. So, embrace the challenges, seize the opportunities, and let your passion and dedication shine through every aspect of your application.

The Academic Experience at Harvard

Attending Harvard as a student is academically invigorating and incredibly demanding. The school’s robust curriculum and resources drive students to push their intellectual boundaries.

a group of 3 male students studying intently inside the library

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is renowned for its exceptional academic programs and rigorous standards. As one of the world’s leading educational institutions, Harvard offers a diverse range of disciplines and courses that cater to students’ varied interests and passions.

At Harvard, the curriculum is designed to challenge students to question, analyze, and debate across a wide range of subjects. Whether studying the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or professional fields, students are encouraged to explore the depths of their chosen disciplines and engage in critical thinking.

The Rigor of Harvard’s Curriculum

The curriculum at Harvard is known for its rigorous standards. Students are continuously challenged to question, analyze, and debate across a wide range of disciplines. This depth and breadth of study foster an environment of intellectual stimulation and discovery that sets Harvard apart.

Harvard’s faculty members, who are experts in their respective fields, are dedicated to providing students with a comprehensive education. They encourage students to think independently, challenge conventional wisdom, and explore new ideas. The rigorous coursework and high academic expectations prepare students to become well-rounded individuals who are equipped to tackle complex issues and make a positive impact in their chosen fields.

Moreover, Harvard’s commitment to interdisciplinary learning allows students to explore the intersections between different subjects. This interdisciplinary approach encourages students to think critically and creatively, fostering a holistic understanding of the world.

Opportunities for Research and Internships

Learning at Harvard extends beyond the classroom. Abundant research opportunities, internships, and field studies further enrich the academic experience, allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-world contexts and to work alongside some of the world’s leading thinkers.

Harvard’s research programs provide students with the chance to engage in cutting-edge research projects and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields. Whether it’s conducting experiments in state-of-the-art laboratories or analyzing data in collaboration with renowned scholars, students have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their disciplines.

In addition to research opportunities, Harvard also offers a wide range of internships that allow students to gain practical experience in their chosen fields. These internships provide valuable insights into professional environments and help students develop essential skills that will benefit them in their future careers.

Furthermore, Harvard encourages students to participate in field studies, where they can explore different communities and cultures while applying their academic knowledge. These immersive experiences not only broaden students’ perspectives but also foster a deeper understanding of the world and its complexities.

In conclusion, the academic experience at Harvard is characterized by its rigorous curriculum, interdisciplinary approach, and abundant opportunities for research and internships. Students who attend at Harvard are constantly challenged to expand their intellectual horizons and make meaningful contributions to their fields of study. The academic environment at Harvard fosters a passion for learning, critical thinking, and the pursuit of knowledge, preparing students for success in their future endeavors.

Social Life and Campus Culture

While the academic journey is central in attending Harvard, the social life and campus culture are integral to shaping a student’s time at the university.

Two woman talking in a table.

Harvard University is not only renowned for its academic excellence but also for its vibrant and diverse social scene. The campus culture at Harvard is a melting pot of different nationalities, backgrounds, and identities, creating a rich and inclusive community.

Diversity and Inclusion at Harvard

From students of different nationalities, backgrounds, and identities comes a vibrant, inclusive community. Harvard’s commitment to diversity is manifested in its numerous cultural, religious, and identity-based clubs and organizations that allow students to celebrate their unique experiences and learn from one another.

Harvard University takes great pride in fostering an environment where students who attend this university from all walks of life feel welcomed and valued. The university actively promotes diversity and inclusion through various initiatives and programs. Students have the opportunity to join cultural clubs such as the Asian American Association, Black Students Association, Latinx Student Association, and many more. These clubs organize events, workshops, and discussions that promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

In addition to cultural clubs, Harvard also has a wide range of religious organizations that cater to students’ spiritual needs. Whether it’s the Harvard Islamic Society, Hillel (the Jewish student organization), or the Harvard Catholic Student Association, students can find a supportive community that aligns with their religious beliefs.

Furthermore, Harvard encourages students to explore their own identities and engage in conversations about social justice and equity. There are organizations like the Harvard College Women’s Center, the LGBTQ+ Student Association, and the Harvard First Generation Student Union that provide resources, support, and advocacy for underrepresented groups on campus.

Clubs, Societies, and Greek Life

Outside of the classroom, Harvard students engage in a vibrant social scene. Clubs and societies are plentiful, catering to a diverse range of interests. Whether students are passionate about arts, sports, politics, or community service, there is a club or society for everyone.

Harvard’s clubs and societies offer students the opportunity to pursue their passions, develop leadership skills, and make lifelong friendships. For example, the Harvard Undergraduate Council is the student government organization that represents the interests of the student body and organizes various events throughout the year. The Harvard College Debating Union provides a platform for students to engage in intellectual discourse and hone their public speaking skills.

In addition to clubs and societies, Greek life also holds a place within Harvard’s social landscape. While not as prominent as at some other U.S. colleges, Greek organizations at Harvard provide students with another avenue for socializing and building connections. These organizations often host social events, philanthropic activities, and community service projects.

It is important to note that Greek life at Harvard is not limited to traditional fraternities and sororities. The university also recognizes co-ed fraternities and sororities, as well as cultural and identity-based Greek organizations. This diversity within Greek life allows students to find a community that aligns with their values and interests.

Overall, the social life and campus culture at Harvard University are vibrant, diverse, and inclusive. Students have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities, join clubs and organizations that align with their interests, and build meaningful connections with their peers. The social scene at Harvard complements the rigorous academic environment, creating a holistic and fulfilling college experience.

Living in Cambridge: The Harvard Student Experience

The academic and social aspects of attending Harvard are undoubtedly enriched by the lively backdrop of Cambridge.

View of young woman typing in a room near a window.


Housing and Dining at Harvard

At Harvard, your residential house is more than just a place to sleep and study—it’s a community. With unique traditions and shared meals in the dining halls, students form lifelong connections. Housing arrangements foster a close-knit environment that extends the learning experience beyond the classroom.

Exploring the City of Cambridge

Cambridge is a city teeming with culture and history. From rowing on the Charles River to discovering local eateries or attending a theater performance, there’s always something new to experience. The city is an integral part of a Harvard student’s journey, offering countless opportunities for exploration and personal growth.

Experience Harvard is about more than just earning a degree—it’s about embarking on an intellectual journey in an inclusive environment filled with diverse opportunities. From its challenging curriculum to its vibrant social scene, the Harvard experience is a path of continuous growth, discovery, and fulfillment.


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