A Day in the Life at Harvard University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Nat is a 2011 graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies. He is a New York City tutor specializing in SAT prep tutoring, GRE prep tutoring, French tutoring, and more. See what he had to say about his alma mater:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Nat: The campus is in the heart of downtown Cambridge, and comes with all the perks and risks that that implies. All of the Boston metropolitan area is easily accessible with public transportation, and all the various things you might need to buy can be attained at shops that are easily walked to. There are, of course, crimes, but it never felt unsafe to me.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Nat: It varies, of course. There are a handful of professors who don’t seem very interested in connecting with students, but they are the exception. Nearly everyone seems to take pleasure in speaking with engaged students, and will meet with you often, and sometimes in social contexts as well.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Nat: The rooms are huge and the cafeteria food is well above average. The school does its best to facilitate social gatherings, but most people spend time with their friends or their clubs separately. The only real impediment to a social life is the amount of work.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Nat: No particular program seems more supported than another, and all have more than adequate funding. I was part of an Interdisciplinary Honors major in which I studied Philosophy, History, and Economics. The department was funded well enough for me to get money for research.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Nat: I did not spend my freshman year at Harvard, so I can’t speak to that. Greek life barely exists and is not particularly relevant on campus.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Nat: The Career Center is helpful for those looking for careers in finance, law, and industry, but it’s less helpful for those looking to do something more off the beaten path. However, if you’re looking for a connection with a famous company, it’s the place to be.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Nat: There isn’t a student union, nor do most dormitories have lounges, but the libraries are plentiful, spacious, and open late. Some are even open 24 hours. There are also college-run cafes and dining halls where many students work.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Nat: It’s in an upscale part of the city. There are bookstores, cafes, movie theaters, concert venues, and lots of restaurants. Boston is easily accessible, as are many points in New England for those feeling adventurous. Most students, however, find few reasons to leave campus.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Nat: The college part of the university consists of around 6,500 students. Lecture courses could be very large, but most courses are very small and rely on student involvement.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Nat: My junior year, I took a seminar with an Economics professor in which we read fundamental texts from history, economics, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. Each one in some way examined how the present world came to look the way it does. The class was eye-opening and changed the way I see the world. What more can you want from a class than that?

Check out Nat’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.