By dorm life I'm assuming you mean the freshman dorms. If so, then YES!!! Dear god yes they do an incredible job!
First I want to commend you for actually asking this question. Most students seriously underestimate the effect that their rooming/living situation will have on their experience at the college, and don't even figure out if their school does random assignment or actually put thought into it until too late. You don't really have any space that is 'yours' as a freshman at most colleges, so ensuring that you get along with your roommates and that you all have adequate space is key. It doesn't matter how much you like the college, if you hate your room then the first and last thing you'll see every day is going to seriously put a damper on your mood.
As far as Harvard goes, the freshman housing assignment process is awesome and consistently draws praise. The application is more intense than most schools; there are the standard multiple choice questions about smoking, tv preference, sleep schedule, music taste, etc, but then there is also an essay section about who your ideal roommate would be. A little word of advice: take this seriously. You don't have to outline the type of person exactly, but even more ethereal things like "I'd like my roommate to be open to trying new things and going to downtown Boston" are helpful. Also as a sidenote, you should probably overestimate how social you are (if you partied in HS you're a 4 or a 5 on the 5 point scale, Harvard doesn't tend to draw the hard-core partyers that would top most other school's social scales).
The freshman housing coordinator looks over all the apps and then starts building up the yard, one room at a time, dorm by dorm (there are legends about her process getting screwed up when her cat got into the room and messed up her mock-up of the yard). Each dorm kind of gets its own flavor, and the halls/entryways are even coordinated a little. Most people find themselves discovering weird similarities between their roommates' and their backgrounds long into the school year, many times far beyond anything the coordinator could have known based on the housing app and the college app alone.
I'm definitely not saying that everyone ends up best friends with their roommates, but there are very few people who find the situation unlivable. At the worst you'll tolerate your roommates, but more probably you'll end up blocking with some of them.
Last edited by h-bomber; 04-10-2008 at 11:18 PM.
Reason: forgotten detail
I asked for a roommate who had traveled, maybe spoke German or French and didn't smoke. I got someone whose Dad was from Bangladesh, whose Mother was German and who was living in Paris at the time. We got along really well and still keep in touch. They really do make an effort to give you what you ask for. My husband stayed friends with his freshmen year roomies though he ended up rooming the rest of his time with someone who lived across the hall from him.
Thank you so much for answering so honestly. As a parent, I am quite concerned with this aspect of college life. I know that my son is also concerned. You made us feel so much better. Harvard seems to do such a wonderful job in every respect. I have been very impressed so far.
You are also a great representative of the college and of the students.
So I feel pretty naive asking this, but I can't find it anywhere on the college website.
How are dorm rooms arranged at Harvard for freshmen? As in, is it dormitory style living where it's two people to one room? Or is it a suite with a common room, and then single rooms surrounding the common room? If so, how many people are assigned to one suite? Are there co-ed bathrooms for one floor? Or are bathrooms located in the dorm rooms themselves? If someone could explain how it all works and the set-up of the buildings, that'd be extremely helpful because I'm totally in the dark about the housing style of Harvard and about how many roommates I should expect to have.
You will be notified in August what your dorm room setup will be, and who your roommates are (with email addresses). Then you can begin planning on dividing up the space, and who brings what (fridge, futon,etc.)
Dear Coureur, My daughter started Harvard last fall toward the end of the year the community bathroom in her dorm was made co-ed. She stopped by there this year and verified that it has remained co-ed, however; someone handmade signs were posted next to some restrooms that said men or women. Remind you that this is where the students shower. This was a concern of ours before she entered, so we looked it up in the freshmen handbook and were relieved when the bathrooms were same sex. What is the new ruling on bathrooms on the rest of the campus and in other dorms with communal bathrooms.
We shouldn't use a thread from April/May 2008 to discuss current bathroom arrangements, or any of the 20 or so more recent bathroom threads either. If you really feel a need to discuss this often-discussed issue again, it would make sense to start a new thread.