Harvard is probably the school most synonymous with the Ivy League, and its prestigious reputation is well-deserved. Students have access to the largest university library in the world, and some of the most illustrious faculty, including historian Niall Ferguson, Nobel-prize winning economist Alvin Roth, and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. Its alumni are well-represented at the top of most professions, ranging from music (cellist Yo-Yo Ma) to health (physician Andrew Weill) to law (Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts). Harvard can also be surprisingly affordable. Its generous financial aid program gives full rides to the more than 20% of students from families earning less than $65,000 a year. Students from families earning up to $150,000 pay no more than 10% of their income. As a result, the vast majority of students graduate debt-free. Harvard fields 42 Division I sports teams and gears up for football and tailgating at the much-ballyhooed annual game against rival Yale. One key aspect of Harvard life is its residential system. On Housing Day each spring, costumed upperclassmen storm the freshmen dorms with gongs and other props to tell freshmen of their randomly assigned placements into one of the school’s 12 upper class houses.
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Nothing beats the prestige of the Harvard name. The education is comparable to other top tier universities, but the Harvard name empowers undergraduates to attract some of the worlds most renowned leaders and add credibility to any initiative or conference they might start.
Harvard is wonderful in a number of respects which share an underlying thread -- flexibility. The academics are as straightforward or challenging as you wish to make them, and there is indeed a great variety of choice. The community will hold your hand if you ask, and leave you be otherwise. There are countless opportunities for personal experience and growth, which will not fall into your lap, but which you must pursue. Harvard is entirely the experience you make it. It takes independence and self-direction to thrive, which some might find appealing, and some might not. Overall, however, my experience has exceeded my expectations on nearly every front. I would give Harvard my full and unreserved recommendation to prospective students.
There's not a school out there quite like Harvard. Simply put, the quality and diversity of the student body has made my time so far a remarkable experience. The intellectual attitudes and uniqueness of students truly make it a worldly experience.