This is what a typical week at Harvard is like

Say goodbye to sleep

As a junior, I’m already nostalgic that I’m halfway done with college—so this was a nice opportunity to reflect on what I’ve been doing at Harvard.

Rather than input my life into Google calendar, I use a paper calendar—one of those faux-leather-bound, Veritas-embossed academic planners that you can buy at the Coop for six or seven bucks. I take a ruler and split each day into six sections to keep myself organized, then write down everything I have to do that week.

There’s something oddly satisfying about penning things in by hand—checking off a box if I’d completed it, crossing it out if I hadn’t, and being able to physically flip through the days I’ve spent in school.

Here’s a random but representative week out of my calendar.


• I am highly social by nature and prefer to be busy, so my calendar reflects my preferences, not necessarily those of a typical Harvard student.

• I am concentrating in political philosophy, so my academic perspective is geared more towards the social sciences/humanities rather than STEM.

• I am involved in a generous number of extracurricular activities at any given time, so I am regularly running around campus trying not to be late for back-to-back scheduled meetings.

• I like attending interesting public events, which are usually well-advertised and open to the Harvard community. But it depends on how free I am.

• While I don’t schedule in time to study (perhaps I should), the unscheduled space in my calendar is typically spent studying, checking emails, planning the rest of my week, or preparing for meetings, projects, and daily tasks.

• I sleep very little during the school year, which is how I have time to do all this stuff. Maybe you guessed this already? 😉

• As you can see, the bulk of my scheduled time wasn’t taken up by classes, but by out-of-school activities and events.

• Now that that’s established, let’s take you through my week, shall we?


Last semester I took a standard workload of four academic courses.

• Since I am a joint concentrator in Philosophy and Government, I had to take a sophomore tutorial for each concentration—Philosophy 97 and Government 97, respectively. My two other classes were fairly standard Gov requirements: one was Gov 10, an introduction to political theory; the other was Gov 50, a political research methods class.

• With three essay-based classes and one pset class, I spent most of my time completing readings and writing papers, with some weeks substantially busier than others, depending on where my essay deadlines fell.
Mondays through Wednesdays were fairly light. Thursdays were completely packed with classes. Fridays were free, which was nice. This week I spent 10.5 hours in lecture or section, and skipped one lecture to finish a problem set that was due for that class. Generally I’d spend 12 hours a week in class.

• This week I’d probably spent between 30–40 hours finishing a take-home midterm for Gov 10, which I did very well in but took a late day to complete. I’d also spent roughly 10 hours finishing the Gov 50 pset, and 10 more hours on readings for my other classes. (Grand total? 50–60 hours.)

• In terms of workload, this was a pretty heavy week for me (particularly with midterms and a pset due), though finals can be an order of magnitude more brutal. A lighter academic week might be 20–30 hours or less.


• During this particular week, I had commitments for five extracurricular organizations I’m involved in—more than most students, standard for me.

• Her Campus, an online magazine for collegiette women: I was busy writing up this article, which was published the following week. I also went to our weekly meeting on Sunday evening, where we talk about pitches and eat yummy snacks.

• The Undergraduate Council, student government: While I couldn’t attend a rescheduled general council meeting on Monday, I went to my committee meeting on Thursday, a UC bonding social on Friday, and a normally-scheduled general council meeting on Sunday evening.

• Club Lacrosse, recreational lacrosse: We had practice and a mixer with boy’s club basketball, only one of which I attended because I had midterms. (Guess which one?)

• Harvard Square College Consulting, the company I founded to provide resources to college-bound high school seniors worldwide: I had a few calls with clients that week, as well as some backend work to keep the whole thing running. (Stating the obvious, but startups are hard work!)

• The Harvard Political Review, a nonpartisan quarterly political magazine: I was conducting research to write up this article on venture capital—hence the “perfect pitch” event at the Harvard innovation lab.

• I am currently (or was formerly) involved in almost too many clubs at Harvard to keep track of, including a job, a term-time internship, a sorority, a number of pre-professional organizations, an intellectual dinner group, etc. So while the above lineup is representative, it’s also subject to change.

• In general it’s fairly easy to tailor your involvement in clubs each semester depending on your interests, though Harvard students typically become committed to a few clubs (1–3) later on in their college careers as they accumulate leadership positions, dropping the rest.


• Looking back, I’d scheduled eight meals with friends, four of which I ended up attending; the others were (hopefully!) rescheduled to another week. I usually eat two meals a day—and I love eating with friends, it’s a great way to catch up—but sometimes I’d skip a meal if I was pressed for time.

• Outside of my extracurricular commitments, I wasn’t able to make it to most of the other events I had written down, presumably because I was so swamped with midterms. A notable exception was the Expressions dance show that Saturday evening, a student-produced extravaganza that usually sells out every year—I had to go to support one of my best friends!

• I’d penned in eight parties between Friday and Saturday, four of which I ended up attending. I enjoy my weekends, and I try to go out twice a week as a way to relieve stress. Otherwise I’d probably go crazy.

• Eight parties is definitely not the norm for Harvard, and I wasn’t planning to go to all of them – but it’s definitely nice to have options. That weekend happened to be particularly lit, as it was the week after spring break.

• I’d had a number of very late nights, both that week and in general, to the point where I’d dread seeing the sun rise from the window of Lamont. Yet on Sunday I remember attempting to work at a dining hall late at night, only to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and talk until 5am.

• It was a conversation that I look back upon fondly, one of those college moments you remember long after you forget all of the other stuff you had on your to-do list. A little reminder that no matter how busy I may be, to make time for the people in my life that I care about, because these are the moments I’ll cherish most.

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