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Harvard: The Oldest University in America

Today, I'm going to spotlight a special university in America. It's none other than the oldest university in America: Harvard University. Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, where former presidents like Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt have graduated.

Written by

Lars Blenckers

In this article, we'll delve deeper into the rich history and traditions that make Harvard so unique. 

We'll explore the unparalleled quality of education, the exclusivity of Ivy League status, and the famous individuals who have left their mark on the world after their time here.

And as if that's not enough, I'll also share my own experience of visiting the campus and having an inspiring conversation with the hockey coach.

History of Harvard University

When we talk about Harvard, we can't ignore its impressive history. Founded in 1636, it's the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Imagine that—this university existed even before America became an independent nation!

Did you know that Harvard is named after John Harvard, a young clergyman? He wasn't the founder but one of the first benefactors who gave the university a boost by bequeathing his library and half of his estate. 

Thanks to this generous gift, the institution has evolved into the academic powerhouse it is today.

Over the years, Harvard has not only stood the test of time but has also played a leading role in the academic world.

From the American Revolutionary War to the civil rights movement, Harvard students and faculty have always been at the epicenter of change.

John Harvard
Statue of John Harvard - More on this later

Quality of Education

In addition to its rich history, Harvard is a pioneer in the field of education and research.

Harvard boasts a wide range of faculties, from the Harvard Business School to the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Law School.

Each of these faculties is an institution unto itself, with a reputation often as impressive as the university as a whole.

The academic standards here are nothing short of excellent.

From the moment you're admitted (more on this shortly), you're expected to excel in your field. 

But don't worry, you're not alone. The faculty comprises some of the most eminent academics in the world, and the research opportunities are nearly endless.

What really stands out is Harvard's interdisciplinary approach. You're encouraged to step outside your own field and collaborate with students and faculty from other disciplines.

This not only broadens your perspective but also leads to innovative solutions to complex problems.

Harvard Campus
Harvard Campus

Who Gets Admitted to Harvard University?

Let's pause for a moment to consider how exclusive Harvard really is. With an admission rate of less than 4%, it's one of the most selective universities in the world.

For Dutch students, this means you not only need to have completed VWO or Gymnasium but also need to have an average grade of at least an 8 for all your subjects. Yes, the bar is set extremely high here.

Ivy League Status

If you've ever heard of the Ivy League, you know it's synonymous with prestige, excellence, and, of course, a bit of exclusivity. Many people, however, don't know that the Ivy League is actually the sports conference in which Harvard competes.

The Ivy League is a sports conference (a kind of regional division within the NCAA Division 1) consisting of eight private universities in the northeastern United States.

But the term has come to mean much more than just sports; it now stands for academic excellence, selective admission, and social elite.

In addition to Harvard, the Ivy League also includes Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Harvard Track And Field: Ivy League Champions

Our Own Visit to Harvard University

It's one thing to write about Harvard University or even coach talented athletes who dream of studying at this prestigious institution.

But to truly capture the essence of Harvard, you have to have walked the grounds yourself and breathed in the unique atmosphere. Only then can you truly understand what makes this legendary university so special.

My Visit to the Campus

Setting foot on the Harvard campus felt like stepping into another world, a world where history and modernity go hand in hand. 

The impressive buildings, from the historic Memorial Hall to the modern Science Center, speak volumes about the diversity and richness of the academic culture here.

Campus & Facility Tour At Harvard
Campus & Facility Tour At Harvard

Sports Facilities and the Colosseum

The sports facilities at Harvard are a mix of nostalgia and modernity. From the old rugby field to the state-of-the-art fitness centers, sports are an integral part of life here.

But the highlight has to be the Colosseum, an architectural marvel and a living monument to the history of the sport at Harvard.

The Colosseum - Harvard

Conversation with the Hockey Coach

During my visit, I took the opportunity to speak with the hockey coach, Tjerk. He's also Dutch, which made it extra fun.

What I learned is that sports at Harvard are not just about winning games but also about character formation. 

Tjerk shared that the most rewarding aspect of his job is the personal and athletic development of his players over the years.

Interview Harvard Field Hockey
Interviewing Head Field Hockey Coach Tjerk van Herwaarden

Myths and Legends

You can't truly experience Harvard without diving into the myths and legends that adorn the campus.

Take, for example, the statue of John Harvard. Believe it or not, the statue isn't actually of John Harvard himself! Since there were no images of him available, the face on the statue is that of a random student.

And then there's the famous Widener Library, donated by the Widener family with the stipulation that the building could never be remodeled. 

But with a growing collection of books, they had no choice; so what did they do? They expanded the library underground!

Widener Library


Harvard University is more than just an institution; it's a symbol of academic excellence, a hotbed of innovation, and a place where history and the future come together.

My visit to the campus and the conversation with hockey coach Tjerk have given me a deeper insight into what it means to be part of this legendary community.

From the impressive buildings and sports facilities to the myths that adorn the campus, Harvard is a university like no other.

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As a college sports recruitment agency, we can provide you with more information about the opportunities to play sports and study in America.

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