When people ask me about my time here at Harvard, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly a day looks like. There are so many different activities to do and each day looks so different. Now, layer on the fact that I’m just 1 person and you start to realize that there really isn’t “a day in the life of a Harvard student” that can be applied to all students here.
That being said, there are some things that do hold true amongst most undergrads here (like scrambling to try and make Dhall meals), so I figured that I could share what a day in my life looks like and hopefully you’ll be able to pick out some similarities that might cross over to other students. Here’s a day in the life of a Harvard student!
A Day in the Life of a Harvard Student
We’ll work through a (semi) typical daily schedule, then cover some of the extracurriculars you might take part in at Harvard, and finish up with a round up of social life and academics.
8:30am – My alarm goes off and I spend 5 minutes contemplating whether or not my first class is really worth getting out of bed for… the voice inside me fearing repercussions for missing class always wins so I hop out of bed and start preparing for the day. This includes doing some hasty last minute studying (if I happen to have a quiz that same morning), checking the weather, and seeing whether or not I have anything due today that I forgot about.
9:00am – After leaving at 8:59am on my scooter and ripping through Harvard Yard, I arrive at the science center where my first class (math) is. My day officially begins as from here it’s back-to-back classes.
12:00pm – After sitting through an Economics lecture in Sanders Theatre, I always find myself hungry, so I’ll usually drop by the freshman dining hall (Annenberg) to grab some food. Speed is of the essence here as the lines fill up really quickly (understandably as Annenberg makes some of the best cookies out of all the dining halls).
2:45pm – By this time every day of the week, I am finished with my classes and will (usually) have some time to rest and relax before…
3:15pm – Golf! I am currently on the varsity golf team here at Harvard so golf is my main extracurricular. That being said, most students here do plenty of things outside of academics so their schedules likely look similar to mine (just with their clubs and activities substituted for golf). Harvard Golf has the privilege to call TCC (The Country Club) our home course and most weeks (in-season) I get to practice here 3-4 days.
7:00pm – After a good practice session, we usually get back to campus at around 7:00pm. From here, a couple of teammates and I will take our pick for dinner from 3 likely candidates in Harvard Square: El Jefe’s Taqueria, Pinocchio’s Pizza, or Insomnia Cookies.
8:00pm – It’s finally time to start tackling all the problem sets (psets for short) and homework due the next day. Chances are I’ll be with friends working them out either in Lamont Library, Cabot Library, or the famous Wigglesworth B basement (with occasional interludes of ping pong breaking up our study sessions).
10:00pm – The other big extracurricular that takes up my time is… blogging! At 10pm after all my psets and homework are done, I’ll head back to my dorm, take some time and invest it into growing Financial Pupil.
11:30pm – After getting ready for bed, I’ll hop on a call with my girlfriend (in Toronto), exchange details of the day with her, set my alarm, and get ready to do it all over again the next day!
Although Harvard is a very “academic-oriented” school, extracurriculars are a staple of almost every single member of the college here. There’s a phrase that floats around Harvard often: “C’s get degrees”. Whether or not this phrase is to be taken to heart, it does a good job of implying the reality here at Harvard: students are oftentimes FAR more than just their grades.
As you probably saw in my schedule, golf is my main extracurricular. For most varsity athletes at Harvard, it’s tough (but not impossible) to juggle sports with other clubs and student societies. Their sport is usually the biggest time commitment for them outside of actual school, and clubs are known to take up quite a bit of time as well (with each club basically have the “workload” of a whole other class).
Needless to say, extracurricular life is a huge part of the student experience here at Harvard.
Of course, you can’t talk about Harvard without talking about the academics here. When it comes to school, every student is doing something a little bit different. There are tons of different concentrations (majors) and even if you’re doing the same major, you can take various different courses and classes to get there.
Also, if you want, you can stack up the workload… a lot. There really isn’t an upper bound to the number of hours you might spend in a week on coursework. That being said, you also don’t NEED to choose all the most challenging courses. Personally, I’m taking:
- Economics10a (microeconomics)
- Exploring Infinity: a freshman seminar
- Chinese BA
- Math1a (calculus)
These are great for me as I’m interested in all of these subjects (plus they’re all quite accommodating for golf).
“Academics, sleep, or social life, you can pick 2 out of the 3 but you can’t have them all.” This phrase has been thrown around quite a bit, and after a few months of Harvard I have to say that it’s …….. quite true for the most part.
Of course, Harvard has some really fun parties and social events, but you can’t attend all of them while also balancing all of your schoolwork while ALSO maintaining a healthy amount of sleep.
As someone on a varsity sports team, it’s really 4 things that need to be balanced (school, sleep, social life, and golf). Oftentimes I find that on weeks when school is really heavy and I’m still trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep, I’m going out less. Or on weeks when I have a tournament and want to meet new people, I’m sleeping much less… it’s really hard to have it all so it’s all about balance.
What’s Changed Since High School
There are a few things that I’ve really had to get adjusted to as I’ve transitioned into college. A big one is that professors care a lot about teaching, but they don’t care whether you personally pass or fail.
Remember how in high school your teachers would get mad at you for submitting an assignment late, or for not showing up to class on time? That doesn’t happen anymore. If you don’t submit an assignment, the professor will gladly input a 0 into your grades. If you don’t show up to class, that’s no sweat off the professors back, you’ll just miss the material they taught (which might show up on the exam).
What this means is that the responsibility falls much more on you to care about your own learning and your own grades.
This is true of some sort to personal life as well. At Harvard, I no longer have my parents telling me what to do and how I should run my life. This is good in some ways (nobody is stopping me from making a 1am pizza run), but also means that I’m fully responsible for everything good and bad that happens to me.
This is all to say that college is the place where you start to get a taste of what “being on your own” feels like.
Recap: A Day in the Life of a Harvard Student
So there you have it: a day in the life of a Harvard student.
By no means does every single one of my days look like this, and every student at Harvard will have a different experience, but hopefully through sharing what one of my (potential) days looks like, you’ve gotten a glimpse into what Harvard is like!
All in all, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to study here and I’ll do my best to make the most of it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below or to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love connecting with people and will be sure to get back to you. Happy wealth-building everyone!
Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student passionate about making smart financial decisions both in school and in the workplace so that he can spend more time doing what he loves (like playing golf, spending time with family, and travelling). He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys sharing all things personal finance, academic, and golf-related. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.