Disappointing photos show what going to Harvard is like in real life

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It turns out that going to Harvard looks a lot like attending any other US college. Darren McCollester/Newsmakers
  • Harvard University is one of the most prestigious, and expensive, schools in the country.
  • So you’d think life as a student there would be wildly more luxurious and comfortable … right?
  • It turns out that going to Harvard looks a lot like attending any other US college.

It’s no question that Harvard is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Some of the greatest minds have come out of the 400-year-old institution, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, eight presidents – the list goes on.

As a result, people apply that same level of prestige and luxury to how they perceive life at the college.

Fancy dormitories with spacious rooms and spectacular meals 24/7 are some of the things people think Harvard students are treated to during their college experience.

But in reality, going to Harvard looks a lot like going to any other university in the US.

Check it out:


Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 20 minutes west of downtown Boston by car.

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Source: Google Maps


It’s the hardest college to gain acceptance to in the US.

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Source: Business Insider


The school rejects more than 90% of applicants.

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Source: Business Insider


It’s one of the most expensive schools in the nation, with tuition, room and board, and other fees costing north of $US60,000 a year.

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Source: Investopedia


As a result, the institution and its graduates have garnered a prestigious reputation.

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After all, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attended before famously dropping out — and now he runs one of the largest tech companies in the world.

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Source: Forbes


And how can we forget Elle Woods’ level of genius?

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Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in ‘Legally Blonde.’ IMDb/MGM

She made attending Harvard look like a life of luxury …


… but in reality, life at Harvard looks a lot like it does at other typical American universities.

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Especially when it comes to living in dorms.

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Overall, the dormitories are decades old and weren’t built to accommodate the vast amount of students that they now house.

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Source: Quora


About 98% of students at Harvard live in housing owned, operated, or affiliated with the school.

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Source: US News


As a result, living units are a tad cramped …

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Source: Quora


… so much so that students have been known to remove the doors from their closets because there isn’t enough space for them to open.

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Source: Quora


And they could also use some updating —most dorms don’t have air conditioning.

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Source: Quora


So while Harvard students moving into their dorms might be expecting something more like this …

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… they get something more like this, a unit in the Gropius Complex.

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The complex has five dorms for Harvard Law students.

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Source: Harvard


Each dorm has 20 students …

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Source: Harvard


… which is the average class size at Harvard as well.

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Source: US News


Living in one gets you an “extra-long twin bed” and shared bathrooms and kitchens.

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Source: Harvard


Gropius units are also some of the cheapest options on-campus, with semester prices between $US3,000 and $US6,000.

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Source: Harvard


So you’re getting what you pay for.

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Other dormitories, like the first-year house of Stoughton, feature a large single room layout with two beds.

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Source: Harvard


Rooms are spacious with windows.

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Source: Harvard


There’s plenty of space for company in the unit.

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The amenities on campus are similar to what other schools offer. There’s a gym …

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Source: Harvard


… and a library in the college’s Adam House.

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The Lowell House sports a beautiful common area.

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Over in Harvard Yard, Harvard’s original campus, there’s the renowned Widener Library, filled with three million books spanning 50 miles of shelves.

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Source: Harvard


And then there’s the majestic Annenberg, the dining hall for first-years that looks like a Harry Potter movie set.

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Source: Harvard


There’s a wide selection of food, including some of your average college meals, like meatball subs and steamed broccoli, and of course some soft serve ice cream.

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Source: Harvard


Though the food apparently doesn’t always live up to the cafeteria’s beautiful design.

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Source: Quora and Quora


Unlike most college students, people attending Harvard have to get used to the swarms of tourists travelling to the famed school for photo opps.

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Source: NPR


More than 8 million tourists venture to Harvard Square each year.

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Source: Trip Advisor


It sits adjacent to Harvard Yard.

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There are coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, shopping, and more in the square.

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Source: Trip Advisor


It’s a popular tourist attraction in Cambridge.

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Source: Trip Advisor


But tourists also come to get a glimpse of Harvard life and its students.

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Some students even advise against moving into first-floor units, since tourists have been known to take photos through the windows of buildings on campus.

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Source: Quora


The intrusive photography got so bad that the university had to post signs around campus warning tourists to be respectful of students.

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Source: NPR


One student told NPR that “you get really used to [the tourists]” as commonplace.

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Source: NPR


Harvard students also have to battle the elements just like everybody else.

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Source: The Weather Channel


The summers are hot and humid, and air conditioning is scarce.

Source: Quora


And because Harvard is situated in the northeast, temperatures can hit below 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest months of the year.

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Source: The Weather Channel


Cambridge sees about 52 inches of snowfall a year.

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Source: Best Places


The steam radiators in most dorms can be slow to warm up.

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Source: Quora


So snow gear and blankets are a must for students.

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Source: Quora


Especially if you get a snow day — yes, Harvard has those — and you plan on taking part in the time-honored tradition of sledding down the snowy slopes of Widener Library.

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Source: Harvard


So overall, going to Harvard looks a lot like attending other universities …


… except that its students graduate from the most reputable university in the world.

Source: Times Higher Education