Advice for New Students
Looking for advice about those first few weeks on campus? The Harvard College Office of Admissions & Financial Aid asked around and found five upper-level students to share their perspectives. These juniors and seniors offer valuable advice for anybody new to campus.
May 3 is the deadline to tell us you intend to enroll at Harvard. Once you've decided Harvard is for you, you'll need to complete several items between May and August.
Harvard Yard Dorms
First-year students live in four residential neighborhoods called Yards, which are located at the geographic and historic center of College life. Accommodations range from eighteenth-century buildings, which housed the earliest Harvard students as well as George Washington's troops, to our newest twentieth-century accommodations in Canaday Hall.
Transitioning to Harvard
During your entire first year at Harvard, you'll be supported by a dedicated team offering guidance, programming, and resources to help you transition from high school to college.
Select from six unique experiences catered to your interests! During Pre-Orientation you’ll build strong relationships with your classmates, learn more about student life at Harvard, connect with upper-level students, and most importantly, have fun!
Orientation is your official welcome and introduction to Harvard College. Orientation events provide many opportunities to meet new friends and learn about student life.
Gap Year Students
If you’re beginning at Harvard after a gap year, you may have questions about how to confirm your spot in the class or how to re-acclimate to learning. Learn about the enrollment process for gap year students and resources to help you prepare for the fall.
If you’re an international student, you’ll find that Harvard is ready to welcome you. Refer to the Harvard International Office’s New Student Welcome Guide for visa and immigration information, and the documentation required to enroll at Havard. The Office of International Education will advise and support you in your academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular pursuits through resources and programs, and help to ensure a smooth transition to students from all areas of the globe.
If you have a military background or future plans to serve the country, you'll find a welcoming community at Harvard. The College's Program Manager for Military Student Services works with Harvard College students who are current or prospective ROTC participants (cadets and midshipmen), veterans, or have other military affiliations. Resources and programs for military affiliates are available to ensure a smooth transition for students with diverse backgrounds.
If you're transferring to Harvard as a sophomore or junior, welcome! You'll be contacted by Amanda Lobell, the Resident Dean responsible for transfer students. Dean Lobell will share details about transfer student orientation, held in late August. You'll also learn about resources to help you transition to your assigned upper-level House, choose courses, take advantage of extracurriculars, and jump into student life.
You'll be supported during your first year by an academic adviser, proctor, peer advising fellow, and resident dean. This team will help you choose courses, and consider opportunities for research, study abroad, public service, and internships.
You will meet with your academic adviser during orientation and consider what courses to take. The first week of classes is known as "shopping week", which gives you a chance to attend classes before formally registering. Before arriving on campus, it's helpful to explore courses and know your interests, but you will not register until the first week of the term.
During your sophomore spring you'll declare a concentration, or field of study. You may choose from 50 concentrations, and 49 secondary fields. You can explore concentrations at orientation events and Advising Fortnight during the spring term.
Students typically take four courses per term and are required to complete 32 courses (or 128 credits) to graduate. This breaks down to 12 courses within the core curriculum, 10-14 courses in a concentration, and the balance as electives.
A course in expository writing is required of all students. After taking the writing exam, you'll learn of your recommended course placement, and whether you're assigned to take your "expos" course during the fall or spring term.
More than 100 seminars are offered exclusively for first-year students. Seminars provide an intimate setting to study with a professor. Seminars are capped at 12 students and graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.
Exams are offered during the summer before you arrive on campus. You are required to take math and writing exams. Optional exams are offered in biology, chemistry, and foreign languages. Exam results help determine your course level.
Parents and Family Members
We hope to connect with those who have helped you arrive at the Harvard gates. Parents and family members may receive communications, as well as programming and support from the Parent and Family Engagement Office.
Above all, we respect that your experience at Harvard belongs to you. We are bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that protects your rights.