I wish I had known that in order to be successful in your classes, you must work in teams. The workload is very heavy and the expectations are very high mainly because of the caliber of most of the students here. This requires working together on problem sets and readings. This also requires making sure you stay on top of the material as it comes to avoid having to cram near exams. The common misconception that Harvard professors are uncaring about undergraduates is false. The opposite is true, and you should seek help from your professors as often as possible.
Though Harvard offers an incredible variety of classes and boasts exceptional faculty in many academic fields, it may not be as easy as it seems to dip your toes into a subject with which you have not had much experience. Often first-level or even introductory classes include over-qualified students who have taken a similar class previously, thus making the class more competitive and perhaps making you feel as though you need to "catch-up" in order to succeed in the class. Taking a course pass/fail is a good way to relieve this stress.
I wish I had known that everyone does not, in fact, talk about politics all the time and that people do, in fact share many, many interests with me ? it would have saved me no small amount of anxiety. I also wish I had known more clearly how to prepare myself for the new, improved methods of work and study I would have to develop.
I wish I had known that is it okay to give yourself a break here. Everyone seems to pretend that they are studying ALL the time, but they are not, and it is easy to get sucked into this "worker harder than everyone else" mentality. Relax.
I wish I had known how hard and different sciences are taught here from everywhere else. There is some rote memorization, but much of it is application, which I was unused to, coming from a poor public school in Arizona.
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