25 Vocab Words for the Class of 2025

By Andrew T. Nickerson

Feeling lost or confused during conversations and infosessions? Fear not — we've compiled a field guide to 25 of the most common phrases used over the past year of virtual Harvard life.

1. Berg and Dhall

Berg = A nickname for Annenberg, the first-year-only dining hall. All dining halls, including Berg can be abbreviated as “Dhall,” home to the best and worst food you’ll taste at Harvard and a place where many friendships can be found.

2. Breakout Room

Smaller Zoom sessions that split off from the main Zoom room. Classes will use this to “build community” and “foster interpersonal relations.” Students will use this to endure the most awkward silences at Harvard or go on TikTok.

3. Campus Libraries

Lamont: Lamont is a 24/7 library in normal times, ideal for silent studiers. Lam Caf (the Lamont Cafe) is open until 2 a.m., so students who spend the night here studying (known as “Lamonsters”) have everything they need for their cramming session.

Widener: Widener, Harvard’s most famous library, has rooms with ornate decorations for any type of studying, endless stacks of books in which you can hide from the world as you finish your essay, and lots and lots of tourists posing outside for pictures.

Cabot Science Library: Cabot Science Library is a space perfect for group or individual studying. There are always people walking around heading from STEM class to STEM class, so people-watching can be a great distraction from studying.

4. Canvas and Discussion Posts

We would all be lost without this online platform. Each class has its own Canvas page, on which it will post all assignments, readings, syllabi, grading schemes, problem sets, zoom links and announcements. Discussion posts are mini, often weekly, assignments on Canvas that require students to “respond” to a specific reading/podcast/performance/image/lecture in about a paragraph.

5. Comping

This is a term used for the process of joining a club. Some clubs are “completion” based, which involves finishing various tasks or assignments over a period of time and attending meetings, some are “competition”-based, which may require an application and interview(s), and some have no formal “comp” process at all!

6. The Coop

Pronounced as it is spelled (rhymes with ‘group’ or ‘loot’)

The ultimate destination for when your family comes to visit. The Coop is full of Harvard merch of all kinds (from Harvard shot glasses to 300 different types of Harvard sweatpants) that you will eventually accumulate over your four years here.

7. Entryway

A tight-knit group of around 20 people and a proctor who all live in the same dorm. This will likely be your first community when you get to Harvard!

8. Flipped Classroom

When students watch recorded lectures asynchronously, or outside class hours (another Zoom-U feature). Unclear what they actually do during regular class hours.

9. Flyby

Flyby Blog (stylized as “flyby blog”) is The Harvard Crimson’s flagship blog, a publication by students, about students, for students. Also known as the Buzzfeed of Harvard, you can find humorous and helpful content alike produced by our FlyFamily, a fun and social community of Trader Joe’s-loving writers.

Click here to learn more about Flyby! ;)

10. Getting Quadded

The process of being sorted into one of the three upperclassmen houses in the Quad

11. Jefe’s and Felipe’s

Two iconic eateries in Harvard Square serving burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos for days. You can tell what kind of person someone is by which one is their favorite.

12. Office Hours

Optional hours for extra help on problem sets or essays offered by the professor or TFs (see below).

13. Open Note Exams

Exams you can take with unencumbered access to any of your class notes. Arguably the best thing to come out of online school.

14. PAF

PAFs are undergraduate students who serve as a resource for getting all of your burning questions about Harvard answered, from school to social life.

15. Proctor

A proctor is Harvard’s equivalent of a Resident Assistant (RA). A graduate student (or other young professional working for Harvard) will live in your dorm and serve as your residential advisor as well as plan fun study breaks with your Peer Advising Fellow (PAF).

16. Psets

Psets, short for problem sets, are assignments that consist of a series of questions. A “pset class” is a class likely in a STEM department that primarily assigns weekly psets. Office hours and the Math Question Center (MQC) are widely used by students while working on their psets!

17. Rakesh Khurana

An icon. Also, the Danoff Dean of Harvard College and the face of many emails from the administration.

18. The River vs. the Quad vs. the Yard

First-years live in the famous Harvard Yard before being sorted into one of 12 upperclassman Harvard Houses, their home for the next three years. Nine of the Houses are located along the Charles River, and the other three are tucked away in the Quad.

19. Section

Larger classes pair lectures with a smaller 10- to 20-person class that meets once a week to go over the material covered during lecture. Other schools may refer to this as “recitation,” whereas students may refer to this as “so helpful” or “living hell.”

20. Slack

The worst and most widely used messaging app ever created. Each class will often have its own Slack channel or workspace where students can post questions during or after class or have virtual discussions with peers or teachers.

21. TF, CA, PSL

A TF, or teaching fellow, is typically a graduate student who leads section and office hours. CAs (course assistants) and PSLs (peer study leaders) are undergraduates who have previously done well in the course and help current students during office hours.

22. Wellness Days

An excuse for your classes to assign you extra work or for your mental deterioration over time. Supposedly a time of relaxation to replace spring break.

23. When2Meet

A chaotic, not-so-user-friendly platform used mainly by extracurricular clubs to schedule meetings at times that work for everyone’s schedule.

24. ZM

Zoom DMs (Direct messages).

In a sentence: That cute section kid just slid into my ZMs!

25. Zoom

The closest thing students enrolled in the 2020-2021 academic years got to an actual Harvard classroom. Hopefully, to the Class of 2025, Zoom will be just another video conferencing platform.

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