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