Harvard's "social environment"

<p>Harvard students: On a 1-to-10 scale (10 being the highest), how would your rate your "social happiness" factor?</p>

<p>I'm asking this question because of a post I made in a Princeton forum (see: <a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/princeton-university/1241118-differences-hyp.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/princeton-university/1241118-differences-hyp.html&lt;/a&gt;). </p>

<p>Based upon the numerous private messages from parents that have responded . . . Harvard's "social environment" is pretty similar to my daughter assessment.</p>

<p>Can anyone say something contrary?</p>

<p>terrific post over there... really illuminating for me, thanks.</p>

<p>Ten! Usually. I'm occasionally lonely, but the reasons for that are my own, and rather private, not something that institutional changes could fix. But I literally do have two-three Yes! I AM, in fact, so happy to be here! moments most every week.</p>

<p>I do wish we had the full week off for Thanksgiving, though... I don't know that I'd need two for spring break, but I hate not having a fall break.</p>

<p>One thing that I've noted between H and Y is that it appears culturally chic on both campuses to criticize H. Yalies want to bash H to assert that Y is as good if not better, and Harvardians like to critique their alma mater to demonstrate how secure they are in their pecking order status. It may be that if you want a straight answer to this question, Princeton students could give the most objective view. :)</p>

<p>Well, it just seems like bad form to be like "I love the best university in the world! Hahaha we are the best and I agree!"</p>

<p>Also, the Yalies I know seem to need the support much more--the three or four with whom I am good friends occasionally drop the word "cutthroat" about academics, which isn't something I've ever heard here. A mandatory five classes/semester (them) vs. usually-four-occasionally-five (us) also, I think, contributes to their generally higher (although, again, speaking from very small sample size) level of academic stress. I can handle five classes/semester, but I think I'd die if I had to do so every semester. Or I'd just take more film theory.</p>

<p>On what gibby posted regarding the difference in H/Y social scene:

[quote]

Harvard freshman really don't socialize with upperclassmen, unless they make friends with other students through an extracurricular activity or class. At Yale, freshman eat with and socialize with upperclassman in their colleges/houses, so there is much more of a "big-sib, little-sib" atmosphere to the entire campus. BTW: Harvard freshman this year had to take the freshman pledge promising "integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility.” (see: On the Freshman Pledge | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson) I suppose the reason the pledge was instituted was because the administration felt that past classes of incoming freshman were being too "me-me-me" focused. That doesn't seem to be an issue at Yale.</p>

<p>The "social tone" of HY is actually set on move-in day: At Harvard, freshman move in on the first day and there is basically no other students present (aside from other freshman) to help them lug belongings to their dorm rooms, as the upperclass students move in several days later. At the end of move-in day at Harvard, parents say their goodbyes, and students go off with other freshman to orientation meetings. At Yale, upperclassmen move in on the first day and are required to help the freshmen move in on the third day. On move-in day at Yale, our car was literally swarmed by 30 upperclass students who unpacked our son's belongings and carried them up to his room. In the afternoon there was a parent-student reception at the master's house, followed by a dinner for freshman with the upperclass students in their colleges, and in the evening, there was a one huge party for all the students.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Very true that Harvard freshmen do not get the chance to socialize very much with upperclassmen with the way housing system works, how freshmen don't join a House until their sophomore year. On the other hand, the advantage to that is that freshmen, from pre-orientation to orientation to entryway meetings, get to know each other much better before they are segregated into individual houses. I've met a number of people in Annenberg that I otherwise would never get to know had we been in different Houses from the very beginning.</p>

<p>Also, this house system as you described with Yale kicks in starting from the spring of freshman year. IMO, this was way more fun ;):</p>

<p><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccqR_Y40O-U%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccqR_Y40O-U&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Harvard's housing system may be fun for some, but it is anxiety ridden for others. See: Between</a> a Block and a Hard Place | The Harvard Independent and <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/5/27/houses-house-1960-harvard/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/5/27/houses-house-1960-harvard/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>A big fat 10.</p>

<p>Thanks Gordon, but you haven't been accepted (yet)!</p>

<p>
[quote]
A mandatory five classes/semester

[/quote]

They have to take 5 classes every semester? so they graduate with 40 classes?</p>

<p>^^ No, four classes per semester is the norm.</p>

<p>Oh really? OK my friends there are just crazy then. Never mind...</p>

<p>It's true that Yale requires 36 semester-courses to graduate, so people have to take 5 courses in half of their semesters. And it's common for people to try to take 5 courses in both semesters freshman year, because the introductory courses are considered somewhat easier than the later courses. It's also common for people to take more courses than they need to graduate, because many people there really like taking courses.</p>

<p>Harvard only requires 32 semester-courses to graduate, so four/semester is the norm there.</p>

<p>Don't forget about the all important match between student and school. Perhaps Gibby's son is happier at Y because it is better fit for him than H is for her daughter. I have to say my S, a freshman at H is so happy and loves the friends he has made in his dorm. He is also on a sports team which has given him an instant peer group, however he would say that he is just as close to new friends he has met through his entryway. Everyone is so different. While my S fits just right at H my daughter definitely would not be at home there. So I really think it much more about where someone is comfortable as opposed to which school has the "better" social scene.</p>