I absolutely cannot stand the lack of professionalism demonstrated by our Teaching Assistants. Our grades are determined by graduate students who do not care abut our education nor our grades- they indifferently pass judgment upon us without considering the effects their judgment will have upon applying to graduate schools ourselves. There isn't a system in place to remove or admonish floundering TA's. When they are ineffective they remain ineffective- they are never held accountable for their actions, even when those actions have VERY negative consequences for their students.
Everybody works so hard that the social/dating scene here tends to center around extracurriculars, which definitely limits your ability to meet new people. A lot of the individuals with whom one interacts tend to be little more than lunch-time acquaintances or lecture buddies, and you tend to feel very, very isolated if you don't have a strong best friend or significant other in whom you can confide. Until I got a boyfriend, living at Harvard was extremely lonely and rather depressing, and that's not a very healthy situation.
The attitude people have about their work. Work can sometimes be the topic of conversation: how are finals looking for you, what classes are you taking? People don't always take the time to go out and do spontaneous things. Also, there is not a lot of awareness or a culture around struggling students. Lots of students here struggle with academics, with managing their time, and their life in general, but put on a face that everything is fine. People should go out and have fun more often, and hang out with friends a lot more!!!
Harvard University is, at times, pretentious and the people can be over-achievers. This makes it hard to make friends and feel like I really fit in. I don't mind working hard to get good grades and keep my GPA up, but my family also always stressed the importance of being well-rounded and mainting a wide variety of interests. It is also hard to make friends because I not only have to focus on my school work but also keeping an almost full time job. This is all very time-consuming.
The most frustrating thing is not being the best. In high school, it was much easier to distinguish myself from my peers and stand out academically. At my institution, everybody is a high-school standout, and it is almost impossible to be the best in a given area. You have to go extremely above and beyond in order to succeed in this institution, as just being good in a given field is considered moderate. You have to be great.
There is too much to do. I'm depressed that I'm more than halfway done, and I've only scratched the surface. Now that I am a junior, I realize that there are so many other paths I could have taken here, and I sometimes wish I had more time to try more of them out. It saddens me to know that I'll never have the chance, but I'm thankful that I've had so many opportunities.
I am sometimes frustrated by the lack of pre-professional degrees; I am very interesetd in architecture, but there is no architecture program for undergrads here. Also, people can be very competative and it seems like everyone knows where they're going in life, which makes it even harder to be following an indirect path to my goals.
The administration was not as responsive as I would have liked to some problems, but once I learned how to navigate the school and found a roommate I liked, things got much better. Academic advising early on was similarly frustrating; it's up to the student to find the right people to talk to do get the advice s/he needs.
The two most frustrating things were that the social environment was not on the same level of other, non-Ivy schools and that I sometimes felt I had so many advisors that I didn't know which one to turn to or who could help with what. Instead of catering the advising, Harvard throws a lot of advisors at you.
At Harvard, it can be quite emotionally taxing finding friends who care more about interpersonal relationships than their problem sets. Even my closest friends are so overwhelmed with work that we often have to schedule time to "hang out".