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Harvard University

Name of institution: Harvard University ("Hahvahd" to the local folk)

Location: Cambridge for prestigious elitists, Boston for humble liars, Antarctica for Floridians.

Tuition: $50,000 a year, plus overpriced textbooks and guilty splurges such as unnecessary office supplies and blueberry Pop-Tarts. But don't worry — big endowment means generous financial aid. And with a Harvard degree, you'll probably make more than enough to pay off student loans.

Acceptance rate: Seven percent if you're lucky, zero percent if you're not.

Faculty: Learn from big-shot professors who write their own textbooks and then make you buy them. You'll be one of five to 800 fresh-faced underclassmen in that packed auditorium, but get to know your professor. They have office hours, some have blogs and most are on Facebook or Twitter.

Compatible classmates: You begin to wonder how you even got in if you haven't fed starving babies in Africa, toured with a Broadway musical, or broken the world record for crawling a mile. It's cooler when you realize that your classmates are (mostly) normal people, too. The exception being when your dorm neighbor shows you her Halloween costume — a graphing calculator.

Are we at Hogwarts? The freshman dining hall resembles J.K. Rowling's Great Hall. Harvard also has a School of Divinity (sounds like Divination) and a professor who takes favorite students to dinner (a.k.a. Slughorn). Wand not included. Neither is Hermione. We do have a Quidditch team, though.

Always punctual: Everything runs on Harvard time: seven minutes after the hour. The Memorial Church bells ring about a thousand times every morning at 8:40 a.m. so that students can be up in time for the 9 a.m. prayer that no longer takes place. So peaceful.

Extra credit: Campus doubles as a tourist attraction, so you hear the same tour spiels outside your window every day and often appear in the background of intruding tourists' photos. Harvard is also the setting of many movies; on any given day, you may see Ben Affleck or wind up with an extra part in The Social Network.

Word of advice: Don't touch the statue. It lies.

Xi Yu is a 2009 graduate of King High School and a Harvard University sophomore.

Harvard University 09/04/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 2:43pm]

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