Many people participate at the Institute of Politics, the Harvard Crimson, the Harvard Lampoon, or a program at the Philip Brooks House Association. Personally I spend a lot of time at the Harvard Crimson as a part of the business board. I spend about 10 hours a week there working on marketing or ads. Athletic events aren't too popular. If I were awake on a Tuesday I would be procrastinating in our library's cafe. I have found my closest friends through various organizations and my roommates. If you don't drink on a Saturday night, you could go to a show in Boston, the movies, board games, etc. Last weekend I went out to dinner with a friend's mom and to a finals club which is almost the equivalent to a fraternity.
Don't ask me, my social life sucks, that's why I'm in the computer lab at 11pm on a saturday night, filling out this form. I hoped joining the crew team (a very popular team on campus) would help me make friends, but it did the opposite because it gave me no time to simultaneously take hard classes and make friends. The crew, football, hockey, and lacross teams seem to provide big drinking parties on weekends. The theatre crowd is its own community and I don't know much about them. As for dating, a remarkably large number of students here are inexperienced virgins, which can be frustrating when you're just looking for a little fun. It seems like the only way to get laid is to get drunk at a party.
The IOP, Crimson, and Women in Business are probably the most well respected organizations on campus. On top of that there are clearly the varsity sports, most notably crew. Varsity sports are obviously reserved for recruits and the truly talented. However other organizations rely heavily on dedication, time commitment and creativity. The dating scene is practically non-existent, at least among freshmen. People seem to feel that once they come to Harvard a relationship will mean a huge long-term commitment, especially because so many people believe they will find their spouses here, or at least should. So either there are alot of drunken hook-ups or serious dating. Not too much in between.
I am in the Mozart Society Orchestra, and we put on concerts about 4 times a year, playing mostly middle/late classical music for small orchestras. I like classical music, and I go to hear the Boston Symphony pretty often. There are quite a lot of events on campus, such as music shows, or cultural shows, or always something going on on a saturday night. Most likely several events at the same time. We do have pretty famous speakers, Daniel Barenboim, the conductor/pianist, and I am sure many others that I don't know. Tuesday night at 2am, most definitely sleeping. I go to bed pretty early, 1am at the latest. But right before that, my math problem set.
After freshman year, Harvard students are sorted into 12 upperclassmen houses. There is a strong since of house identity here, as expressed in intramurals and formals. Boston is a relatively small city that is packed with things to do - the MFA and New England Aquarium are great attractions, as well as Fenway and the Prudential Center. There is no Greek system, but there are finals clubs. While they get a bad rap for being selective and discriminatory, they are anything but. The people there are very friendly and fun to hang out with on a Friday/Saturday night. Unfortunately, all clubs in Boston are 21+.
Ethnic, professional, sport, hobby, art, music... basically anything you can think of, in any combination, exists. Extracurricular activities are overwhelming. There are frats and sororities, but they are not very prevalent in the social scene. The social scene changes completely when you transition from a freshman to an upperclassman. You move from the Yard to your House, where there is a lot more freedom. Moreover, you get to join "Final Clubs" which are Harvard's variety of Frats. The only difference is that they are Harvard specific, and people do not live in the Club Houses.
Social life and extracurriculars are pretty decentralized. There's no one dominant group, and people find their niches pretty easily. Met closest friends freshman year and through the house system (through meals). Dating scene is not great, but I can't imagine it's great anywhere bc college students are immature. If awake at 2am, it was doing reading or BSing with roommates. Traditions include primal scream. People party on weekends. Frats/sororities not a big deal. Most of social life is on campus. Lots of options for nondrinkers, but lots of drinking, too, if you want it.
HRO (orchestra) is completely wild, not your average nerdy musicians. HRO afterparty involves heavy drinking (HRO punch = 1/2 vodka and 1/2 sugar), lots of dances and grinding. Awake at 2am on Tuesday or any other night, I'm working on my pset or cramming for midterms (btw are not MIDterms, I have 2-3 "midterms" per class). Saturday nights - going to concerts. Classical concerts, dance concerts, choir concerts, Chinese banquet, there are million things to do on the weekends. Off-campus, working with MIHNUET - performing music in nursing homes and hospitals around Boston.
AAA, Eastbound, The African American Drumming Group thingy, I am in the HRO: it is very selective and people in there are nice to you only if you are in HRO, many people in there are scary and too serious about life but you just avoid them, its a very tradition based club with a serious alumni support, students never leave their doors open, athletic events are not popular except for harvard yale, guest speakers are popular, theater is popular, dating scene is very very active, parties are not important
Latino groups, community service groups. In HIMC we play videogames. NO. Don't know, never go. I heard of them, don't go neither. Do we have theater? Harvard girls are more difficult to understand that regular girls (and regular girls are already impossible to understand, so...) Roommate. Finishing a paper. Freshman week, Housing day, Commencement. I've heard that frequently. We don't have. Study for a midterm. Finishing another paper. I don't recall leaving campus.