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What's So Great About Harvard?

zoaxanthellaezoaxanthellae User Awaiting Email Confirmation 764 replies82 threads Member
edited September 2010 in Harvard University
I mean, besides from the prestige, of course.

My family's been prodding me to apply to Harvard next year [and I don't want to make it sound like I'm some dream applicant who's "considering" Harvard; they just think that good test scores and grades are enough to give one a really good chance] and I've been saying no because, frankly, I think CC has skewed me against Harvard. I read so many posts where people bash Ivy-League schools as overrated, for whatever reason, I think I've absorbed some of that feeling.

In my mind I've been telling myself that "I don't want to be the type of person that goes to Harvard," i.e. convincing myself that Harvard students are probably something they aren't.

So back to my original question - why should I apply to Harvard?
edited September 2010
31 replies
Post edited by zoaxanthellae on
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Replies to: What's So Great About Harvard?

  • mcb52mcb52 1459 replies26 threads Senior Member
    you're like the umpteenth thread about this...why don't you just do a search for some older threads.

    and no one really needs to convince you to apply somewhere--if you don't like it, don't apply.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    I have no idea why you should apply to Harvard, but here are some succinct reasons why it's so great:

    1. It's the greatest university in the world. More leading scholars in more fields than anywhere else. An intellectual hub for the planet -- people there are making an impact on the world, and lots of people making an impact on the world visit there.

    2. It's the wealthiest nongovernmental nonprofit that there has ever been. Unparalleled, unprecedented resources.

    3. It attracts wonderful, ambitious, accomplished students, both undergraduates (your prospective friends/peers) and graduate students (your TFs).

    4. A great location in a fun city.

    5. Lots of its housing for upperclassmen is great; many of the Houses are beautiful.

    6. Excellent need-based financial aid.

    7. Crimson and white actually looks pretty good on almost anyone.
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  • EATYOURCEREALEATYOURCEREAL - 197 replies9 threads Junior Member
    harvard is an institution in which one can learn things
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  • kwukwu 4743 replies16 threads Senior Member
    Besides prestige...?

    Nope, can't think of a thing. Seriously.
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    If you want an objective reply, which some on this thread seem to fail miserably at giving:

    "Besides prestige...?

    Nope, can't think of a thing. Seriously."

    from a Berkeley student, who knows several math professors who went to Harvard as undergraduates: it has some departments that're just spectacularly out of the world good. The math department is amazing! I didn't even apply to the school, but I think I might've enjoyed it if I had gone, for similar reasons to why I like my own school -- a big school that's a scholarly powerhouse. The one distinction is that Harvard is a private school, and there's probably something more for undergrads in general...but otherwise, they're almost the same in strength to a guy like me, who just wants elite scholars + great academics [with enough academic resources in terms of classes, etc, that only a large school with top departments, as opposed to small, focused school, can provide].

    It depends if you're academic for the sake of being academic. I don't know personally a single Harvard student who is, but I know they must exist. Heck, at least they did back when my math professors went to school! If you're not the above, then the second advantage is that generally, while it is certainly a crapshoot to get in, usually your classmates will be accomplished to a degree. And of course, it is prestigious, which will carry you to a degree.

    Overall, don't be afraid to go to a school like that just because people bash the admissions system or something [which I think is strange too, but I respect the people who get in...as long as they aren't idiotic egomaniacs who think they're amazing just for getting into Harvard]; it really does have amazing academic resources that not every school does.

    "and no one really needs to convince you to apply somewhere--if you don't like it, don't apply."

    I would ignore posts like this, frankly. It's quite simple -- the OP was asking why to apply, and felt disillusioned -- not so simple as "I like it" or "I do not," and people dismiss questions as stupid without understanding them all too often, I think.
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  • GoodschoolhopefullyGoodschoolhopefully 374 replies36 threads Member
    Mathboy - so nice to see a considerate reply!
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  • White_RabbitWhite_Rabbit 910 replies37 threads Member
    I think what makes Harvard so special is that there is something for everyone. For instance, Harvard has the reputation of being full of overachieving pre-professionals. And while there are indeed a number of such students (they are usually nice people regardless :) so don't worry), they don't represent the whole student body. There are a number of us here who genuinely love learning and hope to make a career of it. The upside to being the minority is that we often get the undivided attention of arguable the world's strongest faculty. Faculty LOVE to work with students who enjoy learning the material. I've had hour long discussions multiple times with top scholars after class and in office hours, and they've proven themselves to be amazingly caring and interested in my well-being. I had some qualms about coming to Harvard, as I was weighting it against schools like Reed, Berkeley, and UChicago. But I'm very glad I made the choice to come here, as the opportunities are unmatched.
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    "The upside to being the minority is that we often get the undivided attention of arguable the world's strongest faculty."

    Yeah, I think this is a nice way to put it -- I might've attempted to mention this in my earlier post. It certainly is a great advantage of going to Harvard...and I have said in many threads that I wish schools like Harvard and Princeton made it more feasible for students who *just* are incredibly academic + intellectual for the sake of it to make it in. Maybe Harvard does this already -- I don't know. Because as the above says, the faculty are just insanely reputed, and you get to work closely with them if you're in the minority of shining potential researchers and academics. I have found this to be true at Berkeley very much, and I personally myself would choose a school like Harvard [if I'd applied] for similar reasons I chose Berkeley.

    "Mathboy - so nice to see a considerate reply!"

    Sure! I actually think the OP's question is pretty important, as generic as the title may sound -- if one looks at it closely, the question seems to be about shielding himself/herself from the barrage of criticism a school like Harvard can get [e.g., perhaps about how admissions are conducted somewhat unpredictably, the school's elitism, ec]. I wanted to make it clear why I myself think it's a great school, and coming from someone who might give an unbiased view, having neither been accepted nor rejected by the school.
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  • Mal77Mal77 782 replies88 threads Member
    If you can't grasp why Harvard is so great... just don't apply. No one is forcing you. It's in our best interest to not tell you... until we get accepted.

    So.. no there is nothing good about Harvard. It sucks, their colors are awful, everyone is ugly and stuck up. Withdraw your application because it's a waste of time.

    Thanks :P
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    "If you can't grasp why Harvard is so great... just don't apply. No one is forcing you. It's in our best interest to not tell you... until we get accepted."

    This is either a joke post or is just repeating other foolishness. Chances are, most strong applicants will try Harvard.
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Well, meaning that advising any given people ain't going to help or hurt....and perhaps the poster above doesn't even recognize Harvard's strong points. There are lots of good schools, and some better at Harvard at some things, some lacking things Harvard has...asking what its strong points are is a proactive question.
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  • supereagle10supereagle10 765 replies29 threads Member
    Its one of the best Universities in the world. Duh, everyone knows that.
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  • kafkarebornkafkareborn 675 replies77 threads Member
    Well personally I think the Harvard Hooligans make Harvard great ! Them and Prof. Gergen. Professor G !
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  • Shalashaska64Shalashaska64 - 671 replies12 threads Member
    In my mind I've been telling myself that "I don't want to be the type of person that goes to Harvard," i.e. convincing myself that Harvard students are probably something they aren't.

    That's what every person with the stats to get into Harvard yet don't apply says. Just FYI.

    Also Harvard's financial aid pwns.
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  • onlyonedreamonlyonedream 8 replies0 threads New Member
    Don't let other people's opinions on any college dominate your own. Research the school yourself, and see if you could picture yourself there having a good time for the next for years.
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  • shrekshrek - 68 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Onlyonedream is right, but a simple answer to your question (What's so great about Harvard?) is that it is Harvard. Like, so many crazy people from the past went there. Gosh. I don't know about whether or not it is a nice school. It just has a nice past. And a lot of money to give you a financial package that would put any other college to shame (or close enough).
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    "but a simple answer to your question (What's so great about Harvard?) is that it is Harvard."

    I anticipate, however, that this OP wanted specifically not to use this line of justification. Hence his disillusioned attitude in asking, and hence why I did not give him this answer, and instead pointed to some specific strengths.
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  • gadadgadad 7471 replies302 threads Senior Member
    OK, here's a parent perspective that may be more of what the OP was asking. Harvard, occupying the top of the applicant food chain, gets something close to right of first refusal on the most talented, motivated, and interesting applicants from around the globe. They handpick a class that is multinational, ethnically diverse, brilliant, breathtakingly talented, engaging, etc. Then they set resources in front of them (world-famous speakers, faculty who are leaders in their fields, well-connected advisors, live-in faculty House masters and tutors), turn them loose, and offer stipends and subsidies to help make things like travel, programmatic ideas, and outside lessons easily affordable. As a result, you have the most spectacular extracurricular culture imaginable, all run by students. Students pull together professional touring-quality performing arts, run the only student-sponsored homeless shelter in the country, get funds to put on summer high school enrichment programs in China, operate a Model Congress program that draws high school teams from around the U.S. and the world etc..
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  • shrekshrek - 68 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Ok, other than why it's Harvard?

    Financial aid, financial aid, awesome housing, awesome professors, CAMBRIDGE, and did anyone say financial aid? Obviously, if you're rich, that doesn't mean much to you. Then for you: CAMBRIDGE, awesome housing, awesome professors, and awesome rivalry with Yale (though I love Yale, too!)
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  • epistrophyepistrophy 1511 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Anecdotal odds and ends:

    --Two of my son's current professors (both in small classes) are MacArthur "genius" grant winners.

    --Today, after staying late last night at the Crimson doing some editing for this morning's paper (and enjoying Chinese food with others who were doing the same), he interviewed a professor who, in his spare time, is a staff writer for the New Yorker.

    --Over the weekend, he heard alum Yo-Yo Ma give a talk as part of a two-day program on careers in the arts.
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