The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

Sex, Drugs, & Lifestyle

By Steven R. Watros

Between all their classes, studying, and extracurricular commitments, members of the Class of 2016 were busy. Still, they found time to blow off some steam and pursue their passions—43 percent of the surveyed class said they lost their virginity since matriculating.

  • While 62 percent of surveyed members of Class of 2016 had never had sex when they came to Harvard, that number is only 19 percent today.
  • The median number of sexual partners seniors reported was three, though that figure is different within certain groups.
  • Heterosexual men reported a median of three sexual partners, while their non-heterosexual counterparts reported seven.
  • For heterosexual women surveyed, the median was two, and it was four for non-heterosexual women.
  • And seniors in Mather House, where residents boast “singles for life,” had a median of four sexual partners; residents of Winthrop House had a median of two.

Sex and Dating

In general, surveyed members of the Class of 2016 had less active dating than sexual lives—the median number of romantic partners reported was one, and 23 percent said they had never dated while at Harvard. Still, many seniors reported actively looking for love while at Harvard.

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents said they used smartphone dating apps like Tinder to look for casual dates.
  • About 13 percent used them to look for serious relationships.
  • Men, however, were much more likely to use dating apps to look for casual sex—30 percent of male respondents said they did, compared to only 8 percent of women.


While love and sex involve certain brain-based chemicals, the Class of 2016 did not stop at dopamine and serotonin to get their fix.

  • Seventeen percent said they had used hard drugs at some point in the last year.
  • At 24 percent, men were more likely to report using hard drugs than women. Only 11 percent of women said they have used hard drugs.
  • Respondents who received some form of financial aid were less likely to report having used hard drugs in the past year: 15 percent said they had, while 20 percent of students who received no financial aid reported hard drug use in the last year.
  • At 29 percent, almost a third of respondents who are members of male or traditionally male social clubs, including fraternities, said they had used non-prescribed study drugs in the last year, compared to 7 percent of respondents who had never belonged to one of these organizations.


Seniors reported using legal substances, too. Altogether, 95 percent of seniors said they had consumed alcohol in the last year. But within that group, half started drinking before graduating high school—most likely before they turned 21.

  • Drinking before high school graduation was more popular among students who said at least one of their parents attended Harvard or Radcliffe College—62 percent. Meanwhile, 49 percent of students whose parents did not attend Harvard as undergraduates began drinking before high school ended.
  • About 59 percent of off-campus social club members surveyed said they drink more than once a week, compared to just 36 percent of respondents who were never a member of one of those organizations.
  • Seniors going into consulting and finance were more likely than students not going into those industries to report drinking more than once a week, each group reporting at 41 and 54 percent, respectively.