Our VOA listener question this week comes in an e-mail from Spain. Miguel Acha asks what is the oldest university in the United States.
Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It began in Sixteen-Thirty-Six in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. The area was an English colony settled mainly by Puritans who did not agree with the Anglican Church in England. The university was named after a Puritan religious leader, John Harvard. He left the college four-hundred books when he died.
Today, Harvard has more than ninety libraries containing more than twelve-million books. The university includes Harvard College, Radcliffe College, and ten graduate schools. Harvard has one of the best medical colleges and business schools in the country. It also offers programs in law, government, education, religion and science.
Many years ago, Harvard students were all white men. Most of them were from rich families from the American northeast. That has changed. This year, twenty-seven percent of the first year students at Harvard are African-American, Asian-American or Native American. Almost fifty percent are women.
Today, most Harvard students are not rich, although it is very costly to study there. It costs more than thirty-two-thousand dollars for one year. That is more than one-hundred-twenty-thousand dollars for four years of study. About two-thirds of the students at Harvard depend on loans, financial aid or jobs to pay for their educations.
Many people consider Harvard to be the best university in the United States. It is very difficult to be accepted to study there. More than eighteen-thousand high school students applied to attend Harvard last year. About one-thousand-six-hundred students began studying there in September. About eight percent were from other countries.
At total of more than eighteen-thousand students were studying at Harvard last year. About three-thousand were from outside the United States. Most of the foreign students were from Asia or Europe. Most were studying for graduate degrees.
The International Student Office at Harvard says the university does offer financial aid to foreign students. To find out more, you can use a computer to find Harvard’s Internet Web site. The address is w-w-w dot h-a-r-v-a-r-d dot e-d-u.