New school year, new additions to the Harvard College family. As a way to welcome the Class of 2027, we asked our upperclassman editors to reflect on what they wish they’d known — and what they’re glad they learned — via brief messages to the incoming class. Best of luck to all those joining our ranks, and we (the old and decrepit) can’t wait to meet you on campus soon!
What advice do you, as an established upperclassman who’s undergone the collegiate highs and lows of taking classes, making friends, and surviving Sunday scaries, have for the incoming freshman class?
Remember the eager and excited version of yourself that opened that acceptance letter. It is easy to get so caught up in various comp processes, take on every opportunity, and generally feel like you have it all figured out. The reality is that no freshman has it all figured out, and many of your peers are honestly discreetly overwhelmed. This semester, you should remove the pressure you may be putting on yourself and try new things, meet new people and remind yourself that you do not have to do everything all at once.
—Zion J. Dixon ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Winthrop House
The advice is older than my parents, but it remains just as true: When you feel like everyone hates you, sleep. When you feel like you hate everyone, eat. When you feel like you hate yourself, shower.
My only two addenda are: When you feel like you’re alone, find someone to talk to. Even if it’s just your mom. And always try to make at least one friend in every class.
—Vander O. B. Ritchie ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Leverett House
Here are my top pieces of advice for freshman fall, taken directly from my own reflections from the time:
If you read a little every day, you won’t have to read it all the day before it’s due. Take things one step at a time. If you choose not to sleep, you will still be stressed tomorrow — then it will just be a sleep-deprived stress. It’s okay to struggle, and there is no shame in asking for help. Don’t take anything for granted.
Work hard, take care of yourself, and the best of luck to you all!
—Gracia A. Perala ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Adams House
It’s ok to say no. Harvard is full of so many incredible opportunities, and your instinct may be to embrace them all. But know it’s reasonable to try clubs and classes and decide you don’t like them. Stick with what you love, and drop what you don’t think is worth your time and effort. College is different for everyone, and there is no one correct path. Keep your head up, you’ll do great!
—Sandhya Kumar ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Winthrop House
What’s for you doesn’t go by you.
I’m borrowing from my go-to source for wisdom freshman year: my mom. Everyone I know faced rejection their first year. Whether from a club or a class, “no” is a nasty word to hear in your first few weeks. Mourning can be rejuvenating, but keep running towards the experiences that excite you. At least some of them will be the destination for you.
—Saul I. M. Arnow ’26, an Associate Editorial Editor, lives in Adams House
You are lucky to be at Harvard and Harvard is lucky to have you. Learn as much as you can from your peers and give your peers opportunities to learn from you. Do not fret if your college experience deviates from that of your peers; trust your gut and stick to the things that bring you joy and that you can learn something from.
Also, have your meals in the dining hall as much as you can. Even when you have no one to get a meal with, seat alone or join someone new — please avoid eating alone in your room.
—Joshua Ochieng ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is an Economics concentrator in Quincy House
Work fills the amount of time you give it. You can leverage this principle to either a) force yourself to start and finish psetting the night before every deadline (generally not recommended, but maybe it’ll work for you) or b) schedule reasonable blocks of time into your calendar for each bit of work you have to do.
—Christina M. Xiao ’24, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a joint concentrator in Computer Science and Government in Eliot House
The opportunity cost of everything is reading. Judge every minute of your time against a minute that could be spent in the library. This seems like a low bar but it’s actually incredibly high. Probably only one of the internships and one of the clubs I did clears the bar. So, don’t be afraid to turn down prestigious, yet uneducational, internships or clubs. You’ll be better in the long run for it.
—Aden L. Barton ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is an Economics concentrator in Eliot House
PSA: The Harvard bubble is real, but it is breakable. The first few weeks on campus will feel like a whirlwind, from Harvard-planned events and gatherings to just the sheer excitement and nervousness of being in a new place surrounded by a host of unfamiliar faces and fascinating stories. But in between those amazing moments, taking the time to visit a locally owned coffee shop or exploring the coastline at Revere Beach can prove to be invaluable memories. Many of my most cherished moments have been found through spontaneous adventures around and about! Exploring your new home can be both affordable and accessible, so have fun and expand your lore!
—Hea Pushpraj ’25, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a History concentrator in Adams House
When someone says, “We should grab a meal sometime!” absolutely follow up on it. As a freshman, it can be very easy to fall into a pattern of class, dorm, Annenberg, dorm, repeat. It is also just as easy to fall into the habit of making hollow plans. Grab that coffee, meet for dessert in the dining hall, go for a walk by the Charles, study together — moments like these have marked the beginning of some of my best friendships at Harvard.
—Sidnee N. Klein ’25, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a Sociology concentrator in Currier House
Unwed yourself from your ideal ‘four-year plan.’ Take advantage of the freedom that freshman year affords to purposefully enroll in classes far outside your intended concentration. I arrived at Harvard intending to solely study the humanities but instead fell in love with proof-based mathematics after taking Math 22A: “Vector Calculus and Linear Algebra I.” Give yourself the opportunity to have a similar experience — you may find your intellectual journey enriched by subjects you had no intention of studying at university.
—Max. A Palys ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Currier House
Screw the certificates. Few employers care about your concentration, much less the secondary or language citation you picked up because you were just a few classes away or worried your resume was too bare (an empty concern, given neither even appears on a diploma). So learn broadly. Take courses that do not relate to your concentration or career. No one discipline has sole title to the truth; by opening your mind to the epistemic multiverse, you can begin to gather together the threads of this messy, inchoate world and see something greater. Every semester, I do this; every semester, I struggle (Math 101: “Sets, Groups and Real Analysis” was particularly nasty for this Social Studies concentrator); and after my eight semesters conclude, it will all just be a line on a transcript few will ever read. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because it’s learning broadly that delivers me the world in the first place.
—Tommy Barone ’25, a Crimson Editorial Comp Director, is a Social Studies concentrator in Currier House
One privilege of a Harvard degree is that what it says isn’t exceedingly important — that is, you can likely get the cushy job you want without designing your entire academic and extracurricular track around pursuing it. That’s an enormous freedom, and you shouldn’t be shy to use it to find interesting, novel experiences.
—Lucas T. Gazianis ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Currier House
Don’t stress about not being practical enough. Around half of the most important inventions in history weren’t discovered by careful planning, but instead were stumbled upon accidentally. The same goes with Harvard. Your most valuable experiences will most likely be serendipitous, so don’t worry too much about how useful that Comparative Literature class will be.
—Manuel A. Yepes ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Cabot House
Harvard has a way of turning people into serial schedulers. There’s some lizard brain instinct, honed by observing others around you with satisfyingly complete and color-coded Google Calendars, that makes carving your day into successive activities impossible to resist. But even as you learn to craft this mosaic of efficiency, give yourself the permission to let those fixed time chunks blur and bleed — to let the coffee that you scheduled for a specific 40-minute slot between lectures, or the reading that you intended to crank out in an hour, linger a little longer. The unexpected vibrance of forming a genuine friendship or savoring a resonant paragraph will always put GCal’s preset colors to shame.
—Eleanor V. Wikstrom ’24, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a Social Studies concentrator in Adams House
Remember why you came here in the first place.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what comes next — to make class decisions solely based on employment prospects or to prioritize ‘getting ahead’ over quality time with friends — that you forget why you ever applied. It was probably the promise of fascinating classes taught by world-class faculty and the opportunity to forge friendships with brilliant and diverse people that excited you when you opened your Harvard acceptance in the first place. Your career is important, but don’t let it distract you from why you dreamt of coming to Harvard. Squeeze the most out of every minute here — it passes quickly.
—Jacob M. Miller ’25, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a Mathematics concentrator in Lowell House
During freshman orientation, my proctor told us to wait six weeks before we made any judgments about college.
During those first six weeks, I was miserable with mono, the warm sticky weather kept me up at night, and classic Annenberg fare left me lacking an appetite. But by mid-October, I was healthy, the leaves were approaching autumnal hues, and a late night bagel from brain break had become an enjoyable part of my routine. I had made my first few friends and was happy.
That six week wait was well worth it.
—McKenna E. McKrell ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Adams House
Give the freshmen something to look forward to: What is your all-time favorite memory from your time at Harvard?
My favorite memory at Harvard is having two consecutive sleepovers in my dorm room on a very cold (think less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit) weekend with my two best friends. We spent the days watching horror movies, eating snacks, drinking beverages, and telling stories of life-changing experiences, in our warm oasis from the cold.
—Autumn Shin ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Quincy House
My fondest Harvard memory is elatedly leaping over the Yale bleachers onto the football field after Harvard scored in the last minute of the 137th Harvard-Yale game. Streams of Harvard students rushed the field as boundless exhilaration, gleeful excitement, and Crimson spirit pierced the chilly New Haven air. Football school or not, Harvard is a family — and the Harvard-Yale game always leaves me with no question that this notion is absolutely true.
—Alvira Tyagi ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a joint concentrator in Neuroscience and Government in Kirkland House