Tag Archive for 'extracurriculars'

Harvard is Great When You’re Not Stressed Out

Coming back from Thanksgiving break can be a bit of a shocker. Turkey break is a wonderful time to chill out, eat food, ignore homework etc. etc., but getting back onto campus can be painful especially if you’re facing a mountain of work.

Somehow, this is one of the few times, I’ve managed to come back from break without actually facing a mountain of midterms / papers / psets / blahblah. I’ve discovered, funny enough, that Harvard is a fantastic place to be when you’re not stressed out.

There are interesting people about, good conversations to be had, fun events to go to, lots of ways to amuse yourself. But when you’re stressed, Harvard just seems like a dreary place.

If Harvard is lame, it’s because you’re making it that way.

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Time Debt and Harvard’s Addiction to Over-Commitment

My Economics professor made an interesting analogy last week, comparing time commitments to “time debt.” Harvard students have a tendency to “promise” time to other parties that will be collected at a future point in time in exchange for things like grades, money, fun, etc.

Unfortunately, we too suffer from time inconsistencies regarding our time use. We commit to too much now, but have to perhaps renege on our promises later. Time inconsistencies are generally used by economists to explain things like addiction to procrastination, but at the core of it all, is a self-control issue. Whereas some people cannot help but to pull out their credit card to buy that new pair of shoes, we cannot help but to say yes to an awesome opportunity that will only maybe just take 2 hours a week.

The funny thing about “time debt” — a promise to pay back time/effort at a future date — is that the interest compounds. Time commitments snow ball, people expect and demand more from you, and soon your 2 hour a week gig ends up 3 or 4 hours a week, during a week, of course, of midterms.

So what is this “time debt,” and why in the world is this a problem of many successful people?

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Surviving The Comp

Comping is truly a unique Harvard experience. You take a bunch of smart kids and make them jump through some hoops of various difficulty to even be allowed to privilege of joining a given student organization.

Some comps are formalities, others are grueling. Some will require perhaps an hour out of your time each week, others will demand a certain single minded devotion. Some comps will cut people, maybe half-way through, maybe even at the end of a long and tiring semester. Other comp directors will turn a blind eye if you’re enthusiastic enough.

Here’s the dirty on surviving this uniquely Harvard “comping” process.

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Surviving the Extracurricular Application Process

After my senior year college search, I thought I was all done with silly applications, essays and interviews until my next senior year job search. Oh, how I was mistaken.

Practically every activity on campus has either an application and/or interview process or comp process. You apply for a freshmen seminar by waxing poetic about marine biology. You write an essay on the proper use of punctuation for that literary magazine. You comp the Crimson with a few hundred other freshmen etc. etc.

This particular entry will focus on recruitment efforts that do NOT involve a comp, but instead have usually, a written application and then an interview for those passing the written part. (This obviously doesn’t include activities that involve try outs.)
There are a few basic tips to keep in mind to put your best foot forward when it comes to the extracurricular application process.

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How to Prepare for Your Freshmen Year

Harvard is an overwhelming experience. Every incoming first year will receive a packet of ALL the events occurring during the first two weeks of school. It will be packed with events — some mandatory, others highly recommended, and way too many of them will involve extracurriculars.

You’ll hopefully meet everyone in your entryway, and then everyone at every table you sit at in Annenberg. You will forget everyone’s name, maybe even your own. You’ll probably shop at The Coop and get ripped off, talk to advisers who tell you everything you already know, and receive more course syllabi than you’d actually like to sit and read through.

Here are a few tips that I found helped me out those first few months as a freshmen.

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