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A Guide to Freshman Dorms

Important note: Compared to other universities, Harvard housing is pretty darn nice. So this isn’t really a list going from good to bad, but rather, “What the fork this is DISGUSTINGLY beautiful” to “Eh. This is what I expected.” Proceed with caution.

Apley Court

Full of marble and people you’ll never see, Apley is right outside the yard and offers some of the country’s best freshman housing. If you have T.S. Eliot’s room on floor four, you have the best room for first-years, no question. What you trade in convenience of location you get back in weird animal feet on your private bathtubs. Formerly a high-security dorm for the “precious cargo” freshmen (aka the rich ones), it’s now filled with the luckiest of the Class of 2022/people who bribed the housing officers, half of whom will end up in the Quad. 


Everyone in Grays will remind you that they live in the Harvard Hilton, and unfortunately, they’re kind of right. While not technically as nice as Apley, the close proximity to food/class/fun makes this arguably the best freshman dorm. Your suite common room will be the de facto location for all friend hang-out sessions whether you like it or not. Also, if you’re in Natalie Portman’s room (Grays West, Floor 2), you’ll have the only suite in the yard with locks/the ghost of a black swan that materializes at 2am.


Everyone on the first floor will claim that JFK lived there, and everyone besides them will give not a single shit. That said, the six-person suites on Floor 1 are gorgeous, and the rest of the rooms aren’t too bad either. There’s a solarium on the top floor that provides spectacular views of the yard and is a secluded spot for Weld residents who don’t have singles. You gotta do what you gotta do. Just listen for footsteps on the stairs.


Honestly, we don’t really care for Thayer, but everyone else seems to like it so it’s in Tier 1. Um. It’s super close to Annenberg. And math/ec/science office hours. And most classes. And the rooms are big. Okay. We get it. 


Where a ton of you will be. Stretching along Mass Ave, living in Wigglesworth means you’ll become a temporary tourist attraction: If you’re on the first floor, you better enjoy random German visitors taking pictures through your window. Also the good vibrations of the T rumbling beneath you. But each entryway tends to grow really close, so...Tier 2!


Aside from move-in day, we have never actually seen someone enter or leave Holworthy. Like, who lives here? Have anyone besides Holworthy residents been inside? What we know: The proctors are apparently super nice, which is a plus. They hang adorable lights up during the wintertime—another plus. Alas, everyone forgets about it. Nevertheless, close proximity to food/class, so...Tier 2!


Despite its tragic name and status as a Union Dorm (i.e., off the yard by four minutes), Hurlbut will either provide you with a MASSIVE suite or a single. So it’s a pretty good deal. If you’re willing to go deep in the ‘but, you’ll find a charming common room and laundry machines, too. Nice rooms but distant from humanity, so...Tier 2!


So Matthews should really be in Tier 3. Like, the rooms are large but awkwardly designed. Lord have mercy on your soul if you live on the fifth floor, because no elevator + big stairs = rock-hard glutes by May. Despite these shortcomings, people seem to love Matthews. Also Matt Damon lived there, so...Tier 2!


“Did you know Mark Zuckerberg lived here? Oh yeah, he totally lived here. In that room. Oh, Mark. We go way back.”—every conversation with someone in Straus, about Straus, ever. The rooms are cozy but you can hear literally everything (and we mean everything) happening up and down the entryway. Also, tourists will definitely look in your window. But they have a gorgeous common room you can mooch off of, so...Tier 2!


Rumor has it these are somewhere in the yard. Like, close to the Science Center or something. Please get back to us if someone finds this to be true. We’ve heard the kids living here become very tight-knit. We just don’t know where the fuck they live.

Mass Hall

Clearly at the lower end of Harvard freshman dorms. But hey! You still have your looks. Like the homeschool of dorms, this contains criminally few kids  (approximately fifteen people), all of whom are housed above Larry Bacow. Which means you can’t be loud, or smelly, or disagreeable. Be prepared to weave through protestors of every sort when going to class. 


Fun fact: Greenough got it’s name from kids walking in, taking one look at the hospital-ward style green paint, and letting out a disappointed “green…..ohh.” That was a mediocre joke for a mediocre dorm. If you get a six-person suite, you’re set; if not, meep. Filled with awkward hallway doubles and lacking a strong sense of community (though this can really depend), Greenough has a few perks. And this writer lived there’s okay to say that.


The Quad of the freshmen dorms, we’re pretty sure Pennypacker is in Connecticut. We kid! It’s in Massachusetts, just really fucking far from civilization. The spiral staircase means you’ll inevitably see every face in the dorm (bonding!), and the rooms themselves are spacious and clean (quality!). But like. Consider investing in a bike.


So unremarkable. We struggled to come up like, thirty words for these dorms. But you will have a huge double. So big you may not be able to see your roommate on the other side. But again, they’re still doubles. You’ll never be able to pick your nose in solitude. Sorry, bud. 


Do you like big windows and good views? Canaday has both, and also features close proximity to Annenberg. You might even get lucky and have a single in a suite.

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Rheede Erasmus,  Editor in Chief
Brammy Rajakumar, Publishing Director
Hannah Phan, Studio 67 Managing Director
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