Freshman Survey Part IV: Sex, Drugs, and MacBook Pros

Crimson Design Staff

Part IV of a four-part series on Harvard’s incoming Class of 2017, based on data collected by The Crimson in an online survey conducted in the month of August. Part I ran on Tuesday, Part II ran on Wednesday, and Part III ran on Thursday.

They scored well on the SATs, but it appears Harvard freshmen aren't quite as good at scoring in bed.

Only 35 percent of the Class of 2017 had sex before coming to Harvard, according to a survey of incoming freshmen conducted by The Crimson last month.

Of those who have done the deed, the vast majority—81 percent—said they lost their virginity in high school, and most—62 percent—said they have only had sex with one partner.

Recruited athletes seem to be having better luck: 53 percent of them said they have lost their virginity. In comparison, only one third of incoming Harvard freshmen who were not recruited to play a varsity sport reported that they have had sex.


Sexual activity was just one of a range of topics explored in The Crimson’s email survey of the incoming freshman class. The survey drew 1,311 respondents—nearly 80 percent of the Class of 2017—although not all of them completed every question on the survey. Exploring beliefs, anxieties, habits, and vices, the final installment of a four-part series on the survey’s results looks at how the newest members of the Harvard community live their lives when they are not building their resumes.


Men were more likely than women, private school students more likely than public school students, and Jews more likely than any other religious group to report having had sex before they arrived on campus.

Respondents who identify as homosexual or bisexual are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report that they have lost their virginity. Forty-five percent of homosexuals and 56 percent of bisexuals reported having sex versus 35 percent of heterosexuals. Of those freshmen who say that they are questioning their sexuality, only 20 percent said they have had sex.

Forty percent of private school students said they lost their virginity before Harvard, compared to 33 percent of public school students, 18 percent of charter school students, and one of six homeschooled students.

Among surveyed freshmen, self-reported sexual history also differed between religions. Mormons, Hindus, Muslims, and Protestants reported the least sexual activity, with 0, 16, 25, and 28 percent respectively saying they have had sex. According to the survey, half of Jews, 38 percent of agnostics, 36 percent of atheists, and 34 percent of Catholics have lost their virginity.

Males, on average, reporting having had more sexual partners than females did—1.95 for the former and 1.70 for the latter. Seven men claimed to have had sex with 10 or more people, but were excluded from the averages of sexual partners.


The Class of 2017 arrives on campus in the wake of a year that saw students call for reforms to the University’s mental health services.

As Harvard increasingly encourages its undergraduates to utilize the University’s growing mental health services, the vast majority of incoming students who were surveyed—87 percent—said they have never sought mental health counseling. Among those who have, most said they come from middle- and upper-class families. Twenty-one percent come from the survey’s highest income bracket—a combined parental income of more than $500,000 a year—and 61 percent come from families with an income of $125,000 a year and higher.


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