As I’ve previously mentioned, I was fortunate enough to take the trip over the Atlantic last week to visit Boston. The main reason for the trip was to take part in the Admitted Student Weekend (ASW) at Harvard Business School.
There’s too much to fit into one post, but the three days of activities were action-packed, as well as being incredibly well organised. Packing the schedules of 400+ excitable students plus partners, with personalised agendas, and making it run like clockwork was an incredible achievement. For this post, I’ll write about the campus and follow up later with ASW itself.
HBS is stunning, far more attractive and inspiring even than Harvard Square across the river. Especially in snow. I found the lack of students and staff worrying – had they closed for the day, and was my class visit planned for the morning off?
“There are no days off at HBS” the student accompanied who me told me later, only half-joking. Once checked in at Admissions and into the Aldrich building for my class visit, I discovered where everyone was. Underground.
Despite all my previous research, I had no idea that the tunnels existed. Why not, for that added Bond-villain base feel, just build an underground network of tunnels between your buildings? During the snow-storm they were well used.
After thinking this was quite amusing, after a few days in the sub-zero temperatures in Boston they made more and more sense to me. Students can move between dorms, lecture halls, canteens and most other HBS buildings all without stepping foot outside. Most of the buildings have levels below ground anyway to avoid congesting the campus so its an easy way to get between activities.
By afternoon, despite almost a foot of snow falling in the morning, paths were cleared and it was just like a normal cold day.
A significant proportion of my time was spent in the Spangler centre, drinking warm drinks and chatting to prospective or current students. As it was dubbed during the week, this is really where HBS feels the most ‘country club’, and it oozes elite spendor. It was surprisingly quiet though, with many students in between classes studying case materials or tapping at laptops.
Having said that, I met through acquiantances a number of really interesting backgrounds during the two days, and I’m filled with excitement at the conversations I could be having over the next two years here.
Over 75% of HBS students live on campus or nearby, especially RC’s (Required Curriculum – First Years to you or me). Several students advised this in the first year, you simply do not have time to waste travelling home and back again for evening events. Some with families lived in rented houses or apartments but they definitely felt they’d had to make compromises to stay with their family and missed out on some evening activities.
The last bit I had a look at was some of the student accomodation. The apartments are unfurnished (which is a real pain as an international student), and perhaps a little expensive for what they are. But they are incredibly convenient for campus and on balance I think it’ll be a price worth paying. Friends visiting the dorms said they felt a bit more social, with nice communal areas but reported a wide variation in standard and size of rooms from cheapest to most expensive.