Hello! My name is Greta Ritzenthaler and I’m a first-year MPP student. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my first quarter at Harris.

I came here expecting to be pummeled into the ground by insanely difficult courses and a competitive atmosphere. I found that Harris was nothing like the nightmare I had envisioned. The subjects in the first quarter of the core curriculum ranged from very manageable to very challenging, so at times I felt on top of my courses and at other times I had to push myself. I was blown away by the number of academic resources that the school offers: academic advisors who are eager to get to know you, very accessible TAs, free tutoring, and so on. This is not a cutthroat, crushing environment; the professors and staff at Harris want to see their students succeed. Furthermore, the student body here is particularly good at balancing responsibilities and fun; I’ve gone into the city many times with my fellow classmates since classes started. The myth that grad students have no lives is debunked at Harris.

I’ve come to be very appreciative of the unique atmosphere that the Harris core creates. These first two quarters consist of an in-depth, shared academic experience that I haven’t seen since middle school. This common experience has shaped each incoming class and united people of many different backgrounds. I’ve met and worked with a diverse group of peers through my core classes and many of them have become my friends. There’s nothing better than suffering through statistical programming to transform a group of strangers into a group of friends.

The student body is the strongest academic resource that Harris has to offer. I’ve noticed that the students here tend to study in packs; once word gets out that someone is studying at the Polsky Center or in the student lounge, at least twenty others will join. Study spaces become places where Harris students collaborate and learn from each other. I am incredibly thankful for the friends I’ve made in class and for my roommates (who are also Harris students); without them, I would not have survived the first quarter, and I’m pretty sure that every other student feels the same way about their peers.

Now that I’m acclimated to the Harris culture and the fast pace of the 10-week quarter system, I’m ready to take on the second half of the year with vigor and confidence.