Housing day is a very exciting day for some and, regrettably, a very disappointing one for others. There is a pervasive notion on campus that the quality of housing at Harvard varies greatly—that some people make out like kings while others are scorned by the Housing Gods. Yet such an obsession over the minutia of living arrangements belies the undeniably high quality of the majority of Harvard rooms, or even that the quality or location of one’s housing greatly defines most Harvard experiences. The fact of the matter is that housing here is leaps and bounds better than at most universities. Even more importantly, surveys routinely show tremendous satisfaction across all Houses. The quality of one’s Harvard experience is not decided in any large part by the house he or she is placed in.
It’s true that each House has its own quirks—be they Adams’ rats, Winthrop’s lack of tunnels, or the Quad’s distance from the Yard. By and large, however, housing here is great. In many Houses people frequently get singles all three years and in others with less spacious accommodations, residents are compensated by excellent location. River Run is a great time to appreciate the unique character, perks, and quirks of each House, but when the morning comes and everyone is sorted, it is important to remember that each House is home to a diverse and interesting group of students who have the power to make the next three years of the college experience the best three.
The Quad and the River—too often compared negatively against each other—both have their own distinct advantages. The Quad, for instance, offers a level of tranquility and quiet that many residents thoroughly enjoy. Furthermore, its facilities are modern and its residents frequently get spacious accommodations. Shuttle service is extensive and convenient and offers a nice respite from the cold in winter. The River is charming, beautiful, and wrapped in the historic feel of old Harvard. The location is unbeatable, and the Yard is not much more than a five-minute walk away.
At the end of the day, it is House spirit that makes for an excellent housing experience. Houses are, above all, communities—microcosms of greater Harvard that offer countless opportunities for friendship, intellectual engagement, and fun. Right now, there exists an unfortunate and inaccurate categorization that places some Houses above others in the minds of freshmen. Regardless of which House knocked on your door this morning, remember that three years of unique, enriching experience await you, regardless of the house you’re in. Forget the Housing Gods, and get ready to have some fun.
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