Surviving Harvard: 7 stories from freshman year

Harvard University – dream school of high school students around the world – remains somewhat shrouded in mystery for many of us. One former undergrad, Eric Kester, has been through it all, with various disasters along the way, and shares his stories in his new book titled, appropriately enough, 'That Book About Harvard.' Here are 7 of his stories.

1. Joy turns to apprehension

Harvard University graduate commencement in 2012 Brian Snyder/Reuters

After Kester got his acceptance letter and realized that he'd be able to attend Harvard University, he examined the brochure and began to get nervous. "There was one photo of a guy in a white lab coat mixing test tubes of chemicals, then another of a young woman at a blackboard writing what appeared to be Egyptian hieroglyphics," he wrote. "Or maybe it was calculus.... I wasn't sure. For some reason, I felt my chest begin to tighten. Next was a picture of a student relaxing with a magazine in his dorm room. It wasn't a magazine I'd qualify as 'leisure reading'... It was 'The Economist,' and the guy was giggling with delight while reading it. My hands felt sweaty as I quickly turned the page."

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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