Sad but true... is other schools like harvard?

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Sad but true... is other schools like harvard?
By Superbighead (Superbighead) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 10:33 am: Edit

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 04:12 pm: Edit

Wow...that's really disheartening...

By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 05:41 pm: Edit

Well, as the article says other universities and colleges across America are facing the same problem. I'm not sure if this article is just journalistic muckraking, or an accurate representation of Harrvard. This sort of stuff could be happening at Yale and Princeton and Stanford too, who knows?

At any rate, I've heard a lot more negativity about Harvard than I have heard from Yale and Princeton. Take that as you will, maybe everyone just likes to rag on Harvard because they're supposedly #1, but it's definitely influenced my preferences..

By Ambitiousyokel (Ambitiousyokel) on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

I think Harvard bashing is grounded to great extent in Harvard's position as the flagship university of America, and, in many fields, the world. I've started to notice a lot of Harvard-bashing from Yalies and very little Yale bashing from Cantabs. I think that, in light of the overwhelming cross-admit favoritism of Harvard, some Yalies are a little bitter about not getting into Harvard and have adopted anti-Harvard-ism as a defense mechanism. Not to demean either school - I'm still not sure whether I'll wear the blue or the crimson next year.

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 07:24 am: Edit

Any ultra-competitive school is bound to be ultra-stressful at times.

"The Crimson poll found that 80 percent of undergraduates felt depressed at least once last year."

How many people can go for a whole year without being depressed at least once?

By Nyugrad (Nyugrad) on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 07:48 am: Edit

In my opinion, the problem may lie in WHO they admit. Perfect overachievers vs. students who are less perfect but more grounded. The problem may be in the admission process and not the school itself. People who are used to being number 1 may have trouble handling being number 10.

By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 05:32 pm: Edit

Or, in Harvard's case, number 100 or number 500.

By Christine01 (Christine01) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 11:40 am: Edit

there is a significant difference between "feeling depressed" and clinical depression. i am guessing the Harvard Crimson did not use a psychometrically validated instrument to measure mental health in students, so who knows what their results mean. the word depressed is used pretty easily these days but there is a huge difference between feeling kinda down and full-blown, meets-criteria major depressive disorder.

as a Harvard student i was involved in peer counseling for three years. anecdotally, i found that many students were stressed, but relatively few had a clinical mental health problem. research evidence shows that the kind of student who gets admitted to top universities is typically pretty resilient and has few mental health problems. makes sense, right? if a student has a severe mental illness that begins in high school, academic performance might be impaired.

despite the angle that the press often casts, suicide is much more common among young adults who do not go on to college or who go to tech schools than among those in 'high pressure' elite universities. it just doesn't make as good a story as the 'tragic loss of a young, bright, future leader.' those stories sicken me as they put a differential value on the lives of young people. suicide is sadly more common than you would think, but we only hear about a small number of cases.

just my two cents. i've been really bothered by the recent crimson series on the 'mental health crisis.' in my experience harvard did a very good job of looking after its students.

By Mzhang23 (Mzhang23) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 12:18 pm: Edit

the crimson tends have a negative slant against harvard in all its articles. Just check out their one on ritalin abuse.

By Sac (Sac) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 04:49 pm: Edit

Christine 01,
Thanks for that post from the inside. I'd love to hear more about your Harvard experience. Do you think undergrads there are any more stressed than at other top schools? Are they any more competitive with each other, and does that add to their stress? Given what you say about the Crimson series, I wonder what you thought about the story they did recently on why Yale undergrads seem so much happier than Harvard's. (I gave that article to my son, thinking it would dissuade him from applying to Harvard, but it only convinced him to add Yale to his list.)

By Christine01 (Christine01) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 06:36 pm: Edit


no, i don't think Harvard students are any more stressed than students at any other top school. i can't think of any reason why it would be different at Stanford or MIT or etc., can you? Harvard students are the type to push themselves, to take advanced classes and loads of extracurriculars and still go out on Friday nights, just because that is what they love and because they tend to be very energetic types with lots of interests. i wouldn't call it competition at all, because rarely are the students trying to beat each other. it's all internally motivated. Harvard doesn't do this to the students- the students do it to themselves. the stress isn't a globally bad thing, either. many people seemed to get really juiced up and excited by being involved in so much.

i wholeheartedly agree with Mzhang23 that the Crimson has a really negative slant against Harvard. i thought the Yale article was sensationalist just like the mental health series (i'm a grad student in clinical psychology so i have a *lot* more i could say about that). if it is that bad at Harvard, why aren't people transferring out by the droves? i loved my time at Harvard. i guess the unhappy people are the ones writing the news articles? i don't know what's behind the Harvard-bashing but i can say with considerably certainty that it isn't representative of most students' experience. sheesh, my husband still reminisces about how good the *food* was in the dining halls.

By Thenamek (Thenamek) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 08:09 pm: Edit

The Crimson is notoriously scathing concerning its own school. Read its anti-Harvard articles and apply a grain of salt, I say. All of the current students/alumni I've talked to (a considerable amount) love it there. It would seem that the Bulldogs have finally infiltrated and sabotaged the Crimson itself . . .

By Sac (Sac) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 09:12 pm: Edit

Christine 01,
Thanks for the response. My reading of the Crimson articles comparing Harvard and Yale was that they largely were complaining about how much more liberal Yale's oncampus drinking policy is. Still, there's so much out there about how undergraduate unfriendly Harvard is compared to other schools. Did you do your undergrad at Harvard and are now somewhere else for grad school or visa versa? If you did undergrad at Harvard, how did you find the teaching and the interaction with professors? Advising? Dorm living?

By Christine01 (Christine01) on Friday, February 06, 2004 - 05:09 pm: Edit

wow, that's a lot of questions!

yes, i did my undergrad at Harvard and am now at grad school elsewhere. and i must put forward the disclaimer that i absolutely loved my experience at Harvard and have little if anything negative to say about it. with that in mind...

the teaching was great in almost every case. of 16 classes i had 1 ta with poor english and 1 who was a little seedy and used way too much grease in his hair. :) my professors were outstanding as teachers. i got the feeling that the profs who teach intro classes do so because they honestly enjoy it and not because they were made to. how else do you explain some of the more senior faculty teaching the intro level courses- when that could easily be shunted offf on to junior faculty? i certainly sought out interaction with professors although it worked both ways- i was asked to coffee, out to dinner with a few of them. they urged me to go to graduate school. i got to know about 4-5 faculty in my department quite well and still collaborate with my undergraduate thesis advisor on publications. i felt surrounded by opportunities! even in one of the largest majors, i had quite a lot of personal contact with faculty. advising happens on many levels- there are the residential proctors and tutors, and then there is advising in your major. i felt there were always multiple layers of people looking out for me. my freshman year (non-res) advisor took me out to lunch at the faculty club and wrote me letters over the summer. coming from a disaster of a public high school, i guess i felt spoiled.

dorm living- the suite style rooms are nice, there is a lot more privacy than in traditional dorms. and my upper class house had a great sense of community, boosted by 'the grill' and many other traditions. it's such a relief not to worry about housing or cooking at any point, there is enough to worry about in college.

i really don't know where all the Harvard-bashing comes from but i would take it with a grain of salt unless you hear things directly from those who have been there... maybe Harvard is a just big target, i don't know. i'm not conceited enough to think that there are that many significant differences between Harvard and other elite schools (good or bad!).

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