Harvard is probably the school most synonymous with the Ivy League and its prestigious reputation is well-deserved. Students have access to the largest university library in the world, and some of the most illustrious faculty, including historian Niall Ferguson, Nobel-prize winning economist Alvin Roth, and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. Its alumni are well-represented at the top of most professions, ranging from music (cellist Yo-Yo Ma) to health (physician Andrew Weill) to law (Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts).
Harvard can also be surprisingly affordable. Its generous financial aid program gives full rides to the more than 20% of students from families earning less than $65,000 a year. Students from families earning up to $150,000 pay no more than 10% of their income. As a result, the vast majority of students graduate debt-free.
Harvard fields 42 Division I sports teams and gears up for football and tailgating at the much-ballyhooed annual game against rival Yale. One key aspect of Harvard life is its residential system. On Housing Day each spring, costumed upperclassmen storm the freshmen dorms with gongs and other props to tell freshmen of their randomly assigned placements into one of the school’s twelve upper class houses.