juliachild-ish wrote:Well, I will say that March is definitely the worst month in New England...gross dirty snow everywhere, lots of gray and brown. That certainly didn't help my overall impression of the school. But I went to UG in MA, so I knew that going in, and tried to remind myself that the campus is often much prettier, at other times of year. Still, though, the vibe I got from the campus was cold and unfriendly. Not very scientific observations, I know, but part of the reason for visiting a school in person is to get the intangible "feel" of the place, am I right?
I think the ASW organizers did a great job convincing us that Harvard is an academically amazing place. The professors I met or heard speak blew me away (with one notable exception): they were funny, intelligent, engaging, and quite friendly.
But they really didn't do anything to convince me that Harvard is a place I want to spend three years of my life. By that I mean, there was really nothing fun scheduled (and no, the "pub trivia night" and "mingling at the Kong" events did not count as fun; they reminded me of the start of college, just a lot of socially awkward freshmen trying to impress each other). There was nothing that I encountered that made me excited to go there in any real way.
The other admitted students that I met there were, with a few exceptions, kind of boring and immature. Now, this is unfair because I'm a couple years out of school and have followed a very untraditional path through life, but still, they lived up to my stereotype of the Harvard student: driven, uninteresting, and smart in a very narrow way. For the most part, I didn't feel they were the kind of people I wanted to be surrounded by for three years. This is the first law school I've visited, so maybe I'm discovering something about the kind of people who go into the legal profession. I think that's partially true, but my parents are lawyers who I think lead interesting lives, as do many of their lawyer friends. So I would hope that doesn't necessarily have to be true about everyone at every law school. And also, I acknowledge that many of the older and more interesting applicants probably self-select away from attending these sorts of events. But most of the current students I met there fit that model as well. It's said on TLS that Harvard places much more emphasis on numbers and much less on softs than many of its peer schools (Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, etc.), and it seemed to me that the people I met at Harvard proved that to be true.
Despite Harvard's impressive emphasis on public interest advising and funding (which I was pleased with), many current students admitted that people ended up in private firms regardless, since finding public interest jobs is a lot of work and very competitive. They said private firms seemed to be the path of least resistance, and that the culture of the school still kind of pushed people in that direction. Working in BigLaw is kind of my idea of hell, so that wasn't encouraging.
I was also dismayed by the housing situation. Everyone seemed to agree that the dorms weren't very nice and weren't even much of a bargain, and that the same was true of most of the apartments near campus. Current students told me I would have to choose between living someplace nice and affordable far from campus, and therefore being sort of cut-off from student life, or paying a lot of money for a not-great option near campus. I have a large dog (see avatar), so the options for me seemed particularly limited, pricey, and far away.
As I mentioned, I went to UG in MA, and being at Harvard reminded me of many of the things I disliked about living in New England, but again, that's a personal reaction coming from a native WestCoaster.
Also, as I was walking around on Monday, a group of three or four students shouted at some of the other admitted applicants (we had folders and lanyards, so we were easily identifiable), "I wish I could just tell all of the admitted kids to NOT COME HERE! Don't do it!!" I know there are malcontents everywhere, but for me personally, it finished off what was already a mostly negative impression.
Overall, I am still impressed with Harvard as a school. Clearly, its academic power is undeniable, as is the intelligence and drive of its student body. I think it's a fantastic option for most people, but not for me. I guess that, in the end, I care less about prestige and more about quality of life and being around people who interest me.
Hope that's at least a little helpful!
It sounds a little harsh to write off the Harvard student body as boring and immature based on your brief interactions with a handful of admitted students. I try not to judge people or their intelligence without getting to know them first.
I think you will find that all ASWs you attend will be somewhat awkward and boring. If it is important for you to meet like-minded people or to have a fun time on these trips you should consider contacting interesting student groups in advance of the ASW. I know having lunch with a former debater and hanging out with the OUTLaws made my trip to Columbia more fun.
Anyone else have a JR1 scheduled for this week? I do not normally get nervous but Harvard is my first choice and I have already had a week to think about the call.