Social Environment at Harvard

<p>To anyone who knows about Harvard or has spent their undergrad years there:</p>

<p>I personally doubt that I'll be accepted to Harvard, like any other person. However, in the event that I'm fortunate enough to get in, I have a question about the environment there as compared to Yale, Princeton, etc.
I've heard some very negative things about Harvard's "life" aspect, such as ruthless academic competition and a cold, serious social climate. Is any of this true? If you went to Harvard, did you feel happy, fulfilled, and socially satisfied there?</p>

<p>Thanks!</p>

<p>Two daughters there - they've had awesome social lives. We've found that most of the stereotypes of Harvard aren't accurate. A "ruthless academic competition and a cold, serious social climate" are the total opposites of what our Ds have experienced.</p>

<p>Yale has much more of a reputation for being warm and fuzzy than Harvard, but my friends there seem, honestly, more stressed out than my friends here. (Not by a lot, though, and I'm sure it's not statistically significant between the student bodies as wholes.) I think a certain amount of intenseness automatically comes when you gather so many national champions or whatsit into one school, and so no, Harvard is not as laid back as the University of Arizona, but also no, it isn't worse than its peer schools with equivalent student bodies. "Ruthless" is so inaccurate I don't even have words for--I haven't seen much real competitiveness, either, despite participating in more than one extremely selective comp. (Hooray if they do pick you, but certainly no back-stabbing or scheming.) I do hang out with my friends, and I'm very happy with my own social life.</p>

<p>I know there have been lots of threads addressing this before but here is my two cents. My S, a freshman loves the other students at Harvard. He has made lots of great friends and when I asked him if he likes being a Harvard student he replied "I think most people like it, it's great."</p>

<p>That is why H rejects so many perfect scorers and competition winners because they think those students don't have a social life and are snob in one way or the other....</p>

<p>I had an opportunity to talk with a Harvard student a year ago.. and she said that the best thing about Harvard is its people (especially students). They come from all sorts of background, have equally diverse interests. No doubt that they are best in academics but they are best in some other aspect too.. which probably brought them to Harvard in the first place.</p>

<p>Thanks! From what I see here, it seems like the rumors are hardly true. Why do others think so negatively about Harvard's social environment?</p>

<p>sour grapes</p>

<p>Lol @ power4good.</p>

<p>I don't think that's the main reason, though. Probably the main reason if it's coming from YPS students who got rejected here, haha, but I do think there are legitimate grounds to criticize our campus culture. It's definitely a specialized taste--my visiting professor from a state school out west was a little shellshocked and like "why don't you guys have any fun?? I'm used to people tanning all over our Quad all the time or taking off three weekends in a row to go skiing"--and so not for everybody. (My very best friend, for instance, would not be having a good time if she went here.) Not everybody wants to go to a college that's this difficult! I think that is often a healthy choice, it's just one that would drive me personally nuts--academic challenges; the most interesting people and friends; ECs that inspire passion; that is ideal for me!</p>

<p>Thank you so much, exultationsy! That really only raises one question- does this mean Harvard is more for introverted individuals who don't enjoy the traditional party scene? Or does this just imply that Harvard is for those who find the most fulfillment in productive academic/extracurricular environments? Or both? :P</p>

<p>Hahaha :) so....pretty much sour grapes? (Not that I can talk, because I won't get into Harvard)</p>

<p>I did not say there were no parties! Or that it was for introverts! There's a full range of people here, all the way up to extroverted party animals. There are so many government majors planning campaigns for elected office, or whatever majors planning to charisma their way into business--between those two groups alone, you get a lot of people who are quite good with people. The rest of us ain't bad at people either, but those two are easy-to-imagine proof. (Also, the extroverted dumb-seeming party animals tend to be secretly really good at something else, too. One time I ran into this super preppy girl I knew when she was way, way drunk. I'd always figured her for a complete ditz, and I didn't know what she was studying. I did know that she was a very good dancer--like near-professional good, but thought that was the extent of her talents. And then, on this one night, she started telling me at length how much she loved majoring in pure math; I was like...okay this is very strange.) </p>

<p>This ain't a Party School like some of the southern state schools, but neither is it the stay-inside-and-have-no-fun school people make, say, UChicago out to be. (I do not know how accurate that is about UChicago.) I'm quite outgoing, and enjoy socializing a lot. I think the tanning-on-the-Quad example I used earlier is at the heart of what we're missing. (Weather factor aside.) Our social lives can be quite active, and there's probably not much less friend time than at other schools (definitely not than peer schools), but we spend less time just immobilely relaxing in the sun than one could argue we should. There is virtue in a life lived slowly; that is harder here.</p>

<p>exultation, i have a ton of friends at harvard and have met someone exactly like your description, plastered, dancing pure math major many times hahaha.. does she hang out in the finals clubs a lot? i wanna at least her first initial but i feel weird publicly, PM me hahaha</p>