Want To Slyther-in to Harvard University?
By Maya Gorman
Everyone knows Harvard University is regarded as one of the best academic institutions in the country but did you know there’s a major Harry Potter influence in the residential setting of Harvard? First, Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining hall, looks exactly like the Great Hall in the Harry Potter books. Second, there is a “House” system where, just like in Harry Potter, students, after freshman year, live in one of 12 different houses where they eat, socialize, and sleep. The intramural sports at Harvard even feature a competition between all the houses for the Straus Cup, just like the House Cup in the series.
Harvard University is the oldest university in the nation and boasts over 49 majors, otherwise known as “concentrations.” The school offers a liberal arts education with a General Education Program. Students must choose their own major by the end of freshman year but they are free to change it afterward. The biggest concentrations at Harvard are Government, Economics, Biochemistry, English, and Biology. They also have a major called “Visual and Environmental Studies” which is their version of Film Studies. Matt Damon actually created the first act of “Good Will Hunting,” for which he later won an Oscar, for an assignment he had for one of his film classes. “I don't think I did what you wanted,” Matt Damon told his professor, Anthony Kubiak, “I was supposed to write a one-act play. This is clearly the first act of a three-act movie.”
Over 3,500 courses are offered at Harvard and enrolled students can take classes concurrently at MIT or any of the other graduate schools at Harvard. Two prominent schools within Harvard are the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities. The median class size is only 12 students and the first week of every semester is “shopping week” where students get to choose which classes they would like to take. They can even sit in on these potential classes and professors are usually accommodating. There are over 80 languages taught at Harvard and about 60% of the study body studies abroad at one point in its time at Harvard. “One of the great things about Harvard,” said Harvard Alum Michelle Day, “is that a majority of guest speakers are leaders in their fields since Harvard is so well respected in the academic world.” Each student will have an adviser for all of their four years at Harvard including academic/concentration advisers, who are mostly faculty and staff, residential advisers, who live in your “House” or near you, and peer advisers. Harvard also offers research opportunities to its students which can include term-time and summer internships starting freshman year. Over 1,500 of Harvard’s students participate in research and Harvard allocates about 5 million dollars annually for project funding, although this figure does not include internships and mentorships.
Other than academics, students have the chance to participate in over 450 student organizations and over 50 cultural clubs. It is common for students to stay on campus for their social life and even to study on Friday and Saturday nights. Parties are often private affairs hosted in individual dorm rooms. If one is looking for activities right outside of campus, Harvard Square is just a step outside its gates with many restaurants and shops including the famous “co-op” store which sells a variety of Harvard University gear. If Cambridge is not enough, downtown Boston is only a 10-minute train ride away.
Back on campus there is Harvard Yard, where all freshmen live. As previously mentioned, freshmen mainly dine in Annenberg Hall, the freshman dining hall. That being said, Harvard knows how to spoil its freshmen -- Annenberg Hall is not only beautiful from the outside, as it boasts the largest amount of stained glass in the nation, but also from the inside as it resembles the Great Hall in Harry Potter. Annenberg Hall also has a renowned theater where Rihanna and Elton John have both spoken. Students are allowed to perform in the theatre and many of the plays and Accapella groups perform there. As a sophomore, students get assigned to a “House,” which includes anywhere from 300 to 500 students. Students can register with up to 15 of their friends who they can get assigned with. On decision day, students go into a room on campus and wait until approximately eight o’clock in the morning, at which time the seniors of the various houses run around and surprise the awaiting sophomores with their “House” decisions.
The Crimsons have the oldest football stadium in the US and the largest D1 athletic program with 42 sports in total and 20 women’s sports, which is the most in the country. There are 1,300 athletes, who have won a total of 138 NCAA Championships, and about 80% of students participate in athletics or physical recreation on campus.
Over 70% of students receive some form of financial aid and over 50% receive need-based aid, since there are no merit-based scholarships. For a majority of families at Harvard, the average cost per year is $12,000. Harvard fully covers tuition for families making up to $65,000 and only require a percentage of 1-10% of the income of families who make up to $150,000.
Harvard University is part of the common application and offers restrictive early action and regular decision deadlines. Admission deadlines for Fall of 2019 has already passed, although students can certainly still apply this upcoming autumn.
Number of Undergraduate Students
Male to Female Ratio
Student to Teacher Ratio
$76,650 per year
Percentage of Students on Financial Aid
$ Size of Endowment
Location of School (Urban/Rural, as well as physical location)