When I came I was struck by how extraordinarily "put together" everyone seemed, in every sense. Aesthetically, academically, extracurricularly--people seemed to have a place and a direction and a sense of how to present themselves to themselves and to their peers and professors. Many people seem to be experts and spokespeople for particular causes, everyone impressive in some regard. Expert-amateur sculptors, linguists, scholars in any mainstream or obscure field, not to mention politically savvy socialists, feminists, Democrats, Republicans, and anything else. The great thing about Harvard is that there really are fantastic people there, and down-toe-earth people, would-be-Swarthmore students, people with eclectic and fascinating interests, people whose intelligence comes through in all sorts of ways, and people who are truly good and kind. It's just a matter of finding them, and thanks to what feels like hundreds of student clubs, you really can find them.
Harvard's student body is extremely diverse - Harvard prides itself on accepting a variety of people. But, since the school is so big it's easy to fall into your own niche and not interact with a variety of people. That's where extra-curriculars are key. Students are pretty casual, for the most part, though there are some amazing people who manage to look completely polished every single day. Harvard's student body, to me so far, doesn't seem so politically involved, at least in comparison to my high school which had the New York Times delivered practically for free every morning and everyone would discuss the hot-button topics of the day. I feel that hte political discourse at the school could stand to improve much. I miss just sitting around in the hallways discussing another blunder by George Bush or analyzing the world events of the day. Students definitely talk about how much they'll earn one day - especially when it comes around recruiting time.
Harvard has been one of the most diverse places I've ever been at. However, there are some minorities that are not as well represented as others. I feel like asians are the most represented and for good reason, a lot of them are smart! I guess it's reflective of social norms that I would expect. You can always find your place at Harvard no matter what. Sometimes you have to try but it's easy to make friends. Only if you isolate yourself will you be isolated. No, students don't wear suits to class, we're normal people who wear jeans and etc. The dinning hall is quite an active site of interactions, a central hub of each house for meals, studying, and get togethers. I tend to think that most harvard students come from families who are well off but not substantially. I think middle to low middle class students are a minority but it doesn't matter, when you're here, you're equals and nothing more.
Given the diversity of backgrounds among Harvard's student population, I firmly believe that anyone will be able to find his or her niche at Harvard. In general, students tend to become friends with housemates and with those holding similar academic or extracurricular interests. Although it is true that many Harvard students have had privileged upbringings, students with limited financial means can also have vibrant, satisfactory social lives (through the house, etc). The majority of the student population is politically left-leaning; though Harvard is not a bastion of conservatism, there is certainly a vocal and active coalition of right-leaning students on campus.
Harvard is full of high-powered people. It's a very "sink or swim" kind of place. If you're not independent/self-directed, it will take a lot more work to thrive (though it's still possible). If you are though, you have all the world's resources - grants, professors, friends to bounce ideas off of - at your finger tips. Most students wear polo shirts and jeans to class, a few wear sweatpants. The dining hall is fairly segregated by race (this is most obvious in the freshman dining hall). Most students are liberal, but the membership of the Harvard Dems and GOP are about equal (because right-leaning students are much more likely to affiliate)
Having just finished my first semester at Harvard, I can say with great certainty that the highlight of my undergraduate career so far has been the people I have had to opportunity to meet; starting from meeting my roommates on the first day to debating classmates over the rights of the First Amendment, I have enjoyed every moment of my time with them and can say that I have found friends that will last a lifetime.
-people here are really openminded -there is literally every type of person at this school--you can find someone like you no matter how cool/weird you think you are haha... -i'm not sure if certain financial backgrounds are more prevalent than others--i know a ton of people that are on financial aid and a ton that aren't... -i'd say students from different "groups" still interact with one another
I feel like generally, there is a place for everyone because this is a pretty diverse place. There is always a place for someone to fit in. The diversity can also cause conflict because not only is everyone diverse, but everyone also has strong opinions. Overall, though, most people are willing to learn about and immerse themselves in things that others like and everyone is pretty open-minded.
Diversity is big on campus; however diversity also, at least here, means that everyone is included in everything. For example, a Black Student Association event often has many asian, white, hispanic, and other ethnic groups present. There is a big emphasis on things being chill, and not too "into themselves," when it comes to the student body. Finals clubs are the only exception.
Cut-throat competitive. Science students are very focused and driven on classes. Humanities students, who have an easier life academically, just transfer that intensity to extracurriculars, which can often have their own share of back-room intrigue as people jockey and position for resume-enhancing titles.