Harvard University is undoubtedly one of the best universities in the USA and globally. Apart from the university’s ‘big name’, the school is the oldest higher institution in USA founded in 1636. Harvard University is proud of an enrollment of over 20,000 students studying several courses from over 100 departments. The school conducts countless research programs with its location in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts. Harvard University has over 350,000 alumni worldwide. Students are provided with unlimited number of extracurricular activities in every aspect imaginable with the largest Division 1 Athletics program in the US. The school has a number of graduate and professional schools including: Business School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Law School and Medical School amongst others. Harvard University provides more than 60% of its students with scholarship and financial aids, and has proudly produced world leaders.
Harvard University is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, being the oldest university in the United States – the first corporation, chartered in the country. It was founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
The university was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard, while its popularity continually grew during the 18th and 19th century, when it became the principal cultural establishment for the Boston elite. After the Civil War, in 1900, Harvard became the founding member of the Association of American Universities. Women were first accepted in 1977, after it merged with Radcliff College, while the first woman to become head of the university was selected in 2007, as the 28th president of Harvard.
Harvard University strives to fully unfold students’ intellectual and human potential, therefore aiming to create an atmosphere of free expression, respectfulness, and cooperation. The university employs about 2,100 faculty members for teaching and advice, around 6,700 undergraduate students, and 14,500 graduate and professional students. Eight of the US presidents have graduated at Harvard, together with 75 Nobel Laureates. The university boasts with the largest academic library in the United States, which is also the second biggest library in the country.
As far as rankings are concerned, in international terms the university is ranked first in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and second in the QS World University Rankings. In the USA, Harvard\\\'s undergraduate program is ranked first among \\\"National Universities\\\" by U.S. News & World Report, and eighth by Forbes. In the recent developments of the university are included land purchases in Allston, with the purpose of further expansion. Ideas to connect the traditional Cambridge campus with the new one have led to new and enlarged bridges, a shuttle service and a tram.
Harvard’s main campus is situated in Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on an area of approximately 210 acres. This is about 5.5 km (or 3.4 miles) away from Boston and comprises of the central administrative offices, the main university libraries, the majority of the freshman accommodation buildings, and some academic buildings like Sever Hall, University Hall, and Memorial Church.
As already discussed earlier, Harvard has a second campus, opposite the Cambridge one, situated in Allston. This is where Harvard Business School is located, as well as a good number of the university’s facilities, like Harvard Stadium, for instance. These two campuses are joined together by the John W. Weeks Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge over the Charles River. Another important area to mention is the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, where the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health are situated. These are about 5.3 km from Boston and 5.3 km from the Cambridge campus.
Some residential buildings are located along or near the Charles River, while the others are located in a special residential neighborhood, called the Quadrangle, or the Quad. This is an area which used to accommodate Radcliffe College students, before it merged with Harvard.
Last important point to mention is that in 2000 Harvard launched a Green Campus Initiative by hiring a sustainability professional. The Office of Sustainability, which was established since then hires a full staff of 25 people, and has developed one of the most advanced campus sustainability programs in the USA.
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Admission and financial aid policies are equal for both US and international students. Most of the accepted candidates rank among the top 10-15% of their high school classes, and have taken some of the most challenging subjects provided in their curriculum. Throughout the application process, not only academic success is taken into consideration, though; at Harvard are accepted students who have demonstrated exceptional qualities or talents in a certain area, as well as well-rounded individuals, who have greatly contributed to their communities. There are also students, who have experienced unusual life challenges, or have overcome some difficulties in a creative way. Mostly, Harvard seeks candidates who are going to take maximum advantage of the pool of opportunities it offers.
The application process tries to give as much freedom as possible to candidates to express themselves in their own words. Candidates are advised to preserve all materials sent to the university, and ask their teachers to do the same. Testing of SAT or ACT should be completed by December, and test scores have to be submitted directly to Harvard by the testing agency on the behalf of the student. It is not recommended that you send any supplementary materials unless there is a special talent you wish to stress. The application itself is a good enough structure to determine a selection of candidates. As far as the essay is concerned, there are no specific topics given, and it is all up to the applicant to use their own drive and imagination.
In short, requirements for application are:
- A completed application form
- $74 Application fee
- Harvard supplement
- Official Score Reports for SAT or ACT – scores from two subjects are required, but when the candidate’s mother language is not English, he or she is not allowed to take the score from their native language; Students are also greatly encouraged to submit any other scores from tests on various subjects they have taken, such as results from A level or IB exams.
- Secondary School or Mid-Year Report
- Two teacher evaluations
Requirements for international students are the same, with the additional requirement that they have to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Depending on the country they reside in, international students should contact an interviewer if they are selected to continue with the application process.
The strategy that Harvard follows is that they strive to bring the best talent into the university, regardless of the candidates’ financial situation. About 70% of students receive some form of financial aid, with about 60%, who are on need-based scholarships. Furthermore, international students have the same access to financial aid as US citizens. All aid the university provides is need-based, and therefore any changes in the student’s family situation, together with any other circumstances are checked every year. These are the types of financial aid that the university offers:
- Jobs - whether you receive some type of financial aid or not, you would be eligible to work while you study. The Student Employment Office is open for all students, who would like to find a part-time job during the academic year, and about 65 percent of students actually do this, regardless of their financial situation.
- Outside awards – these are awards, given by non-Harvard benefactors, such as secondary schools, civic organizations, parental employers, and corporations, as well as the National Merit and Robert C. Byrd Scholarship Programs.
- Scholarships – these are also based on need, not merit, and come from a variety of sources like Harvard endowment funds, gifts from alumni/ae, general tuition revenues, as well as federal and state grants.
- Loans – these depend on citizenship and other eligibility criteria.
Harvard aims to provide a full and enjoyable experience, covering all aspects of student life during the four years of undergraduate education. Accommodation in Harvard Yard is provided for freshmen, who eat in the historic Annenberg dining hall. After their first year at the university, students are provided a place in one of the 12 houses on campus, and continue to live there until they finish their education. Because of the fact that over 97% of students choose to stay on campus during the four years of their education, there is a strong campus community formed, ensuring a pleasant undergraduate experience.
Each residential house is assigned a staff of tutors, a resident master, and also includes a dining hall, common areas, recreational and cultural spaces. Each house has a unique history, which further contributes to forming a bond between students.
Other important facts about housing at Harvard University is that there are constant emergency services available; heat, hot water, electricity, and gas are included in rent; free wireless internet is available in many of the common rooms; there are pet-friendly, family-friendly apartments and areas; many of the houses feature an in-building fitness suite.
In order to apply for housing in Harvard, you must first confirm your eligibility, and then apply online. Although applications are accepted during the whole year, early application is recommended. Once your application is approved, you can choose an apartment from the currently available ones. Any important information about your application will be sent to you by e-mail, so it is important that you give a correct e-mail address.
Harvard classrooms are equipped with state-of- the-art technology, and as mentioned earlier, the university is proud of its library, which is one of the biggest ones in the world. There is a Malkin Athletic Center, which was recently renovated, gyms are new, and there is an Olympic-size swimming pool.
There are also a great number of other facilities, some of which are the Beren Tennis Center, which was completely re-designed and renovated; Murr Center; Gordon Track; Tennis Centre, and many others.
The only drawback is that Harvard does not have a real student center, but there is a Locker Commons area, which offers study areas, computers, pool tables, and restaurants.
There is public transportation provided by Harvard MBTA station, both via bus service and the Red Line subway. There is also a private shuttle bus, connecting the Longwood campus to the Cambridge one, which makes stops in the Back Bayand and MIT as well. An important point is that bicyclists are allowed to load their bikes on the shuttles at any time, which gives them the flexibility to both use their bikes, and use the service when the weather gets worse.
Activities in Harvard University are extremely diverse, and they include:
Musical groups – opera companies, choral groups, a cappella groups, and orchestras and bands.
Theatre and dance – examples of which are The Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (also organizing workshops to bring together students and professionals of this field); The Pudding – known for its burlesque musicals; The Immediate Gratification Players (IGP) and On Thin Ice (OTI), who present all of their shows on campus free of charge; The Harvard Ballet Folklórico de Aztlán; The Harvard Intertribal Indian Dance Troupe, performing Native American powwow dances; The Harvard Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble, and many others.
Academic and Community Service Organizations.
Political Organizations – The Harvard Institute of Politics, which promoted public service and provides political opportunities to undergraduates; The Harvard Republican Group; The Harvard International Relations Council, which aims to raise students’ international awareness, and includes a magazine, speakers and teaching programs, as well as Model United Nations.
Pre-professional Organizations – Harvard Student Agencies, the largest student-run corporation in the world, it is a non-profit organization, employing students providing them with practical business experience; Veritas Financial Group – boasting international reputation in producing leaders within the financial field; The Leadership Institute at Harvard College; the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business, and many others.
As far as sports are concerned, Harvard owns the largest Division I intercollegiate athletics program in the U.S. Harvard and Yale are well-known for their athletic rivalry, and each year a Harvard-Yale football game is held, known by the name ‘The Game’. A good number of other sports are available, both for men and women, some of which are baseball, basketball, sailing, heavyweight and lightweight crew, fencing, golf, ice hockey, tennis, volleyball, lacrosse, and many others.
Boston is considered to be the cultural capital of America, for which reason you would not be surprised to find out that there are a great number of music, theatre, and dance performances happening all the time. The Boston Globe and the Boston Phoenix provide regular entertainment listings, together with the calendar section of the Harvard Gazette.
The American Repertory Theatre is the one offering very good deals and discounts for students, while the Boston Symphony orchestra offers cheap rush tickets for performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Many other opportunities are also available, from jazz to folk venues to serve every taste.
The range of museums in the Boston area is very wide too. The Harvard ID gives you free access to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and full information about exhibits can be found in the Boston Phoenix.