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A History of Harvard, the US Oldest University

  • November 01, 2016
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Built in 1636, Harvard University has received the name of the oldest university in the United States. While not as old as Oxford University, Harvard is still a recognized institution throughout the entire world, and it is as respected as it is old.

Originally, when it was created, Harvard was known simply as “The New College,” with the main purpose of educating the clergy in the area. Three years later after its establishment, the New University received a great donation from the late Rev. John Harvard. In his will, he left half of his estate to the school, as well as his entire library full of scholar journals for students to ‘feast’ upon. This donation led to the change of name from “New College” to “Harvard,” to honor the benefactor that resulted in the improvement of the college’s condition.

Education in the Colonial Era

The oldest university in US used to have a pretty standard method of teaching during the colonial times. It focused on learning based on continuous drilling, which was something many maesters did in order to teach the young scholars. The faculty within the university was small, but the professors were among the best, known as the most learned men with the most illustrious reputations of the era. By the year 1789, Harvard University also created a branch for medical studies within the curriculum. Some of the buildings found on the university grounds originate from the 18th century, with Massachusetts Hall and Wadsworth House built in the 1720s. While there are no surviving buildings from the original construction in the 17th century, the university is still surrounded by its brass markers.

In the 19th century, Harvard started adding extra programs, such as Law and Divinity, respectively. The teaching methods kept evolving, and students were no longer forced to go to classes they had no interest in. They could choose their classes, allowing them more freedom of choice. At the same time, the recitation teaching style was replaced by lectures, which professors and students alike found more effective.

The school color chosen for Harvard was also settled upon in 1910: crimson. The origin for this dated back in the mid-1800s when two students from the rowing team gave their other team members crimson scarves – so that they could be easily picked out by the crowd. Choosing colors wasn’t actually ‘a thing’ during that time, which is why the color was only chosen after half a century.

Oldest US University, Newest Educational System

Entering the new millennium, Harvard University started focusing on a new learning system. Since it had to keep its title as the oldest, but most efficient university, the presidents developed a system called “concentration and distribution.” This was created so that students could pick their field of study much more efficiently, enabling them to show more progress throughout their course of study. The 20th century was also the birth of honor programs and scholarships, the university offering more financial aids and thus, increasing the diversity.

Passing through the 21st century, there were even more improvements to the old “New College.” It adopted a “study abroad” program so that students could go elsewhere and learn in foreign countries. Plus, it also added classes involving real-life situations, so that students could be ready for what they may encounter post-graduation. The financial aid and teaching style kept improving, which is why Harvard can now enroll 17,000 regular students and 30,000 non-degree ones, according to top writing services.

Oldest University in the Ivy League

While the “Ivy League” is originally used to describe the collegiate athletic conferences with the sports teams, it has later on been used to describe certain general terms: academic excellence, admission selectivity, and social elitism. Only the oldest universities seem to have a place within this league, and Harvard stands strong among its fellow US universities: Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia, and Brown.

Each of those universities can race Harvard when it comes to the oldest US university. However, no matter what scholar or professor you may ask, regardless of the institution, they will all be able to confirm that Harvard is indeed the oldest and most sought institution. If your desire is to learn, then Harvard has all the exclusive methods – the old and the new. And the best writing services reviews can help you to become a part of it!