How to: Not Feel Completely Overwhelmed During Virtual Visitas
Welcome, Class of 2025, to the magical land of Harvard! Your first stop is Visitas, the university’s admitted students weekend and your first official taste of college life. Before you begin your journey, here are Flyby's ins and outs on how to stay calm and not be totally overwhelmed by these chaotic few days.
Lists, Lists, Lists
Just like how you would take note of things to do before going on a trip, channel your inner Jane Gloriana Villanueva and make a list of every category you can think of. For instance, keep a record of events to attend, activities you’re interested in, questions to ask, classes you’re confused about, etc. Pro tip: set up a new Excel spreadsheet and keep a different list on each column or page. Visitas is quite a chaotic experience, so go in as prepared as possible! But also, if extensive lists aren’t your jam, a simple Note on your phone can do the trick.
Lean Into Your Emotions
Whether you’re as “befumbled” as the queen Hannah B. or hyperactive at the thought of finally starting a new mask-free chapter in your life (we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!), embrace every emotion because you’re only a pre-frosh once! Ask any upperclassman how they felt during their Visitas and they’ll reassure you that they felt completely in over their heads as well. If they claim otherwise, they’re putting up a false front (and that toxicity is a surefire sign that you might not want to join their club). If you’re nervous, be honest, because chances are, the other pre-frosh you’re talking to will feel the same way and voila! Friendship formed.
Dive Into the Harvard Website Rabbit Hole
Harness your CIA-level skill when you internet-stalk your crush to learning more about Harvard. At the moment, you may know absolutely nothing about this small liberal arts college outside of Boston, but after a few hours on a few informative websites, you’ll have a better idea of how this mysterious place works. To get started, look through the different fields of study in the Harvard College Handbook for Students, where you’ll find the descriptions and requirements of every concentration offered. Harvard has so many unique departments, from Art, Film, and Visual Studies to Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology to South Asian Studies, and you have four years to explore any of these fields! Don’t worry, you won’t need to actually declare a concentration until halfway through your sophomore year, but it’s nice to have some interesting fields on your radar.
Another website recommendation is TheHub, which catalogs a plethora of extracurricular activities, most of which are still active in the virtual year (the aforementioned Excel sheets will definitely come in handy now!). Even if you don’t know what anything means, you’ll at least gain a sense of familiarity with campus life and opportunities. We recommend that you save these lists and revisit them one or two years from now — it’s almost a guarantee that your passions will have changed, and it’ll be fascinating to see how you’ve grown!
Peruse Flyby Articles ;)
Honestly though, where else can you find raw, genuine advice other than The Blog of The Harvard Crimson? We, as wise elders (with the graying strands of hair and permanent bags under our eyes to prove it), can rattle off the pros and cons of each of the seven biology concentrations and break down any super extra Harvard lingo in a heartbeat, but also sometimes we just want to eat broccoli cheddar stuffed chicken all day. We’ve been through the ups and downs, the late nights finishing up (a.k.a. starting) three psets, and the sporadic 2 a.m. El Jefe’s runs with our best friends. In sum, we’re the real deal.
Go In With Zero Expectations
Despite all the anticipation and preparation, the best way to not feel completely overwhelmed during virtual Visitas is to have no expectations at all. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past year, it’s that probably nothing will go as expected in these times. Sure, there may be some volunteer programs you’d like to check out at the activities fair, or you may want to learn about study abroad opportunities, but who knows if there will be a last-minute event cancellation or if your internet breaks down? The stakes are low, so try to keep perspective during the weekend. Best case scenario, you learn stuff and meet new people! Worst case, it’s not your favorite way to spend a weekend, but you have the rest of your college experience to look forward to.
Try to enjoy yourself as much as possible during Visitas! No matter what happens, keep in mind that admitted students weekend is just a small fraction of what the college adventure is actually like. We hope to see you in the fall!