Whether it’s to explore a library filled to the ceiling with thousands of books, experience big-city living for the first time, or take classes taught by world-renowned teachers, students from all corners of the globe find their way to Harvard. This year, Harvard Summer School’s size and span — 6,000 students; the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, and more than 100 countries; an age range of 14 to 81 — demonstrate anew the University’s commitment to diversity.
About a third of students take classes online or away from campus. Summer School faculty members share the responsibility of welcoming with a variety of activities the nearly 2,000 on-campus students and more than 2,000 commuters.
“Opening weekend is full of events for students, including residential meetings and get-togethers, an activities fair, a reception for commuting students, and the ever-popular Dean’s Ice Cream Social,” said Linda Cross, public relations director for continuing education.
In addition to introducing Harvard’s staff, extra-curricular activities, and campus, the events encourage students to interact with peers who may live thousands of miles away.
“You hear many different languages and accents just walking through Harvard Yard,” said Cross.
The Yard is home to high school students studying at Harvard Summer School (HSS), who are connected with tutors from the Summer School Academic Tutor Program as well as four assistant deans to help “as they strive to transition from high school courses to college classes taught over a short, intensive summer term,” said William Holinger, director of Harvard’s Secondary School Program (SSP).
The range of backgrounds and ages in the classroom is a draw for instructors.
“Faculty who choose to teach in the summer are truly dedicated teachers who welcome the diverse makeup of a HSS classroom,” said Lisa Laskin, associate dean for academic affairs at the Summer School.
Harvard Summer School classes provide a mix of teaching styles as well. From straight lecture to lab courses to project-based learning, “each course and discipline has its own approaches to teaching in our fast-paced session,” said Laskin.
Ultimately, the result for both teacher and student is a deeper understanding of formerly distant viewpoints and issues.
Said Laskin: “Every year, one or more faculty members will say to me, ‘You know, my best student this year was’ — a high school student, or an amazing woman from Pakistan, or a very dedicated engineering student from Germany.”