The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers


By Samuel W. Zwickel

Since they first moved to Cambridge, Harvard seniors haven’t limited their extracurricular pursuits to campus newspapers and a cappella groups. Nor did their experiments stop at acid-base titrations.

Forty-one percent of surveyed seniors said they lost their virginity as undergraduates. Thirty-nine percent of alcohol drinkers in the Class of 2021 took their first sip in college. Nearly half of surveyed seniors reported having used marijuana and, among those respondents, half first tried the drug at Harvard.

Still, few in this year’s class completed the three things every undergraduate “must do” before graduating. Though 76 percent of seniors reported having had sex at least once, only 7 percent of respondents have done so in the stacks of Widener Library, down from last year’s 19 percent.

Sex and Dating

The Class of 2021 reported more hookups than long-term love. A plurality — 38 percent — dated only one person at Harvard, and a quarter never dated at all. Fifty-three percent of students reported two or more sexual partners, and 13 percent said they had 10 or more.

Among respondents who had sex for the first time at Harvard, just over half lost their virginity as freshmen.

Sixty percent of surveyed seniors said apps like Tinder, Grindr, Hinge, or Bumble featured in their dating lives.

Drugs and Alcohol

Recreational marijuana sales commenced in Massachusetts in November 2018 — during sophomore year for many respondents. As the budding industry continues to grow in the Cambridge area, many Harvard seniors seem to be patronizing the local joints: 51 percent of users reported legally purchasing weed in the Commonwealth.

Alcohol was the substance of choice for the Class of 2021. The vast majority of respondents — 91 percent — said they drank alcohol during the past year. Fifty-five percent of surveyed seniors imbibe once or more per week.

Cannabis is much more popular than tobacco among the cohort. Within the past year, 48 percent had used marijuana and 25 percent had used tobacco. Nearly a third of marijuana consumers did so at least once per week.

A minority of the class spent some portion of the pandemic under the influence of more illicit substances. Seventeen percent of respondents reported partaking in drugs like cocaine and psychedelics over the past year. Only 6 percent said they used non-prescribed “study drugs” like Adderall.

The Three Things

Tradition mandates that students complete three special tasks before graduating from Harvard College: running naked in Primal Scream on the last night before finals, urinating on the John Harvard statue, and having sex in the Widener Library stacks. But only an especially motivated few in the Class of 2021 accomplished the feat, an especially difficult task after administrators shuttered most of campus last March.

Only three percent of seniors reported doing all of the “three things.” Roughly 45 percent of respondents reported doing at least one of them.

Primal Scream was the most popular of the challenges. Over 35 percent of respondents said they have kicked off finals with a clothes-free lap around Harvard Yard.

Thirty-one percent of respondents urinated on the John Harvard statue.

Only 7 percent of the Class of 2021 reported sex in Widener, compared to the 19 percent of the Class of 2020 who managed to get busy behind the books.

Technology and Social Media

Undeterred by his disciplinary history at the College, surveyed seniors broadly favor social media platforms run by Harvard dropout Mark E. Zuckerberg. A vast majority report using Facebook and Instagram — 74 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

Many members of the Class of 2021 seem to have revamped their online personas based on the latest trends. Forty-one percent said they have deleted a social media account since coming to Harvard. Among deleters, 49 percent bid farewell to the vanishing-photo app Snapchat.

Harvard students largely choose Apple hardware over other options. Eight-seven percent and 78 percent of respondents report owning iPhones and Macs, respectively.

At its peak in April, the digital currency Bitcoin reached about 15 times its value when most of the Class of 2021 arrived on campus in Aug. 2017. Just 18 percent of surveyed seniors say they own or have ever owned cryptocurrency.