From the Director

BSC Porch

Learning is a deeply personal endeavor - a continuing process of finding our way through unknown territory, making meaning of our experiences, and striving to achieve our aims. There are times when we feel confident and inspired and other times, inevitably, when we feel lost or frustrated or afraid. Learning at its best requires us to question our assumptions, find our courage, seek out assistance, cope with failure, cope with success, and try things we have never tried before.

The BSC is here to welcome and accompany you in your studies at Harvard; to help you learn how to learn. At the BSC you will find people, materials, and activities to support you as you develop new skills, perspectives, and capacities. I invite you to make full use of all the helpful resources here. So explore our website and visit us at 5 Linden Street - we look forward to meeting you!

The Bureau of What? A Note About Our History

The Bureau of Study Counsel was created by a vote of the Faculty in 1947. The idea was to collect a number of different support services that already existed on campus into one office (one bureau) to counsel students about their studies (study counseling). The creation of the BSC recognized that learning is not only informative but transformative and students need support and guidance to meet the challenges of higher education. Ever since that vote of the Faculty, the BSC has been helping students develop their academic skills, identify their interests and motivations, work well and play well with others, tolerate discomfort and uncertainty, reckon with success and with failure, make choices that best reflect their values, and discover meaning and purpose in their work and lives.

Since 1947, much has changed, of course, in the world, on campus, and at the BSC - new technologies, new understandings of the mind and brain, a more diverse university population, an evolving curriculum, a broader range of extracurricular opportunities. The BSC's recognition of emerging issues, shifts, and trends in the lives of students has given rise to, among other initiatives, the Patterns of Development Study in the 1960s; the Teaching Fellow Discussion Groups in the 1970s; the Diversity Study in the 1980s; the Teaching, Learning, and Intimacy Film and Discussion Series in the 1990s; the Success-Failure Project in the 2000s; and our current development of the Harvard Course in Reading and Study Strategies as an online learning environment. As we continue to respond to the evolving Harvard student experience, our mission remains constant: to help students fully engage in an educational experience that leaves them both profoundly changed and empowered to create change in the world.

Abigail Lipson, Ph.D.