BackgroundInterview Date:August 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: All male private school outside of Boston with a graduating class of 50 students
First Generation College Student: No
Secondary Field: Leaning towards Astrophysics
Extracurricular Activities: Club hockey, club rugby, club baseball, club lacrosse, Harvard Youth Lead to Change, Beekeeping Club, and Harvard Gap Year Society.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Youth Leads to Change and club rugby did.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for Economics?
I have about two problem sets every three weeks. So far, I’ve taken two Economics classes and one Statistics class, which is required for the Economics major. That workload was very similar to the Economics classes where it was two problem sets every three weeks. I also had a quiz every two weeks which was usually online.
Is there anything that you feel your concentration’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
They did an especially good job of covering a wide variety of subjects, but at the same time, they don’t do a great job of narrowing in on certain things. There are also a lot of people in the courses.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
The Economics intro courses I was in were very collaborative because everyone is trying to do the same thing and figure out the class. I would say the school gets a lot of flak for being hyper-competitive, but none of the courses I took were hyper-competitive. I didn’t take any science courses, but I hear that they can be more competitive. The courses I took were very collaborative.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, it depends on what discipline. Politically, there is a democratic presence. It’s left based. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any conservative people, but it’s left heavy and you can feel that a lot.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Canaday, which is considered to be one of the worst freshman dorms but we still love it [laughs]. We had a room with a little common room and three bedrooms. There were four of us first semester but then one person took a semester off so we all had our own bedroom.
Sophomore: Cabot House, but I’m not sure of my living situation yet. I’m going to be living with 8 guys. We’ll most likely have singles because of the way the dorm is set up.
How was transitioning from your hometown to Cambridge?
Location-wise it wasn’t that much of an issue because I live outside of Boston. If I needed anything my mom could easily drive or I could take public transportation home.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Filipe’s Taqueria and then Charlie’s Kitchen is a close second
Pros and cons of being in Cambridge, MA?
Pros: I always say that the location is the trifecta.
(1) We have our own little college town with everything you need in Harvard Square.
(2) You also have the rest of Cambridge around you with bigger stores, like Target.
(3) Then Boston is a 15-minute right on the red line [on the MBTA].
Cons: (1) Traffic is awful. Harvard Square is an old place so they don’t have the best system.
(2) A lot of people will say the snow, but I like snow.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Harvard?
I like to go out a fair bit. I was pretty involved with extracurriculars that threw a lot of get-togethers. For me, I’d go out Friday and Saturday and one day during the week. Friday night was primarily a dorm night and Saturday night was a dorm night unless there was a party going on in an upperclassman dorm. The older students tend to have better spaces for parties.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Harvard?
I’m very happy with it, but I think that’s because I made the most of the situation I was in. There are people that weren’t as fortunate as I was in terms of getting involved in organizations that would make it so the nightlife was there, and some people didn’t want to go out and that’s fine, but there were some who wanted more. I was very satisfied.
What have been some of your favorite times at Harvard?
My favorite times were hanging out at the cafeteria or outside on campus and meeting new people. Our class is relatively small compared to the rest of the school, and because everyone is located in the Yard, you can meet people pretty easily. Even late in the year, you find people who you get along with really well. What’s cool is you will meet somebody and hang out with them for a month and then find out they’re the best pianist on the East coast or something.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them a variety of ways. The three biggest ways were through a pre-orientation program I did before school started, through sports that I played, and living near people. If you live near people during the year they’re always around. I also met a lot of people being in class.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s deflated compared to what you would imagine from a normal college scene. I’m able to recognize that because I visited people during my gap year, so I can get a sense of what it really feels like. For people who don’t know that and only know Harvard, it’s a little deflated in the sense that there’s a cap on the amount of fun you can have. It’s not as wild as other schools. Not to say there aren’t fun parties, but it’s at a lower level.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’ve never seen them mix better than here, but I’m coming from a suburb of Boston where there wasn’t much diversity. Everyone is really accepting of each other so you don’t really recognize it until organizations that are based on it, like the Black Students Association. I feel that the school is bridging those gaps in that there is such a wide variety of people.
How would you describe the student body?
Very, very diverse in every way possible. There is a social split between people who go out and don’t go out. There are people who don’t go out because they don’t enjoy it and that’s fine. I’d say most of the students do go out once a week, but that’s not limited to just athletes or other denominations. It’s cool in that way because you run into more people at random parties. What surprised me was how many relaxed, social people there were who would be considered, for the lack of a better word, “nerds,” at another school.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Harvard before entering as a freshman?
To meet as many people as you possibly can, especially at the beginning of the year when everyone is hyper-social. Even though I think I kind of was, I would have told myself to be hyper-social.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The historic stuff they have there. It’s wild how old some of the stuff is there.
Reasons to attend Harvard:
1) The wealth of intelligence within the students and faculty is absurd. You run into people who are absolute brainiacs. Everyone has their own thing but is also very chill. You also have teachers who are world renowned teaching my class of 10 people.
2) The academic facilities are incredible. Every field has a lot going on.
3) The connections. There are a lot of successful Harvard alumni who are willing to help out Harvard kids.
Reasons to not attend Harvard:
1) A lot of people would say the social life. Not me personally, but that’s what I’ve heard.
2) Because of how liberal it is. Not that there aren’t conservative people there, but the overall campus feeling is liberal.