Harvard's new students: Virgins with iPhones

Harvard Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Students arriving at Harvard are a mix of traditional values and new technology

Virgins with iPhones - well, most of them are virgins and even more of them have iPhones. And among the men, they are more likely to take LSD than smoke cigarettes.

These are the future business and political leaders of the United States. Or at least, they are the newest intake into Harvard, the wealthiest university in the world and a cradle of the American elite.

And if you're wondering whether we should trust them, almost one in five cheated in exams or assignments when they were at school.

The findings are from an annual analysis of new undergraduate students published by the Harvard Crimson newspaper, looking at backgrounds, beliefs, preferences and politics.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A high proportion of students have Snapchat accounts

These young Americans have grown up in the new century.

They are a mix of traditional values, liberal politics and digital technology - most of them with religious beliefs and big users of social media.

The analysis also shows a changing demographic. Of this year's intake, 56% are white, the lowest proportion in recent years.

The next biggest groups are Asian, Hispanic and black Americans.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Harvard students are likely to worship at the shrine of Apple

Most students at Harvard receive some kind of financial assistance, as the university can afford to provide a wide range of scholarships.

But the survey shows there are some seriously rich arrivals, with 16% coming from homes where the annual income is above $500,000 (£377,000).

And two-thirds of these super-rich students have relatives who were previously at Harvard.

But there are a similar proportion from families with incomes below $40,000 (£30,000).


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In political identity, this year group is most likely to sign up as "somewhat liberal", with this cutting across almost all income brackets, races and religions.

Only the Mormon students are more likely to say they are conservative.

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Image caption Most students say they are "somewhat liberal" and back Hillary Clinton for president

In terms of whom they are backing in the presidential election, it's a landslide for Hillary Clinton. Even among the Republican supporters, only a minority support Donald Trump.

The Jewish students are the least likely to support Mr Trump's ambitions.

But alongside this liberalism, these are clean-cut kids.

Almost two-thirds are virgins, and two in five do not drink.

Among the religious students, the Jewish and Catholic ones are the least likely to arrive as virgins, while the Mormon and Muslim students are the most likely.

The survey shows the continuing prevalence of cannabis, with a quarter of the new students using it.

And those who have been to private schools are the most likely to experiment with drugs, including cocaine.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Smoking has lost its charms for students, particularly among men

This year's survey shows the almost complete extinction of tobacco, particularly among the men.

Only a few years ago, about a fifth of Harvard's new male students smoked cigarettes.

But this year the proportion is 2.5%, lower than the 3% who take LSD.

In terms of wellbeing, about a fifth of this year's new students have received mental health counselling.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Most students identify with a religious faith

The likelihood of having received counselling rises in step with family income - with the wealthiest students the most likely to have had help with mental health problems.

This remains a country with a strong sense of religion, with only about one in five of the students saying they are atheists.

There are a rising number of non-believers - either atheists or agnostics - but most have a religious faith, predominantly Christian, and with Catholics remaining the biggest single denomination.

The study also examines the other great true faith of youth - their mobile phones and social media.

Apple products dominate the campus gadgets, with almost 80% of the students having an iPhone.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Harvard has been the starting point for many US leaders

In terms of social media, Twitter seems to have fallen back this year, with only a minority of the students having an account.

In contrast, Snapchat and Instagram are gaining ground. Four in five of the students say they are using Snapchat accounts.

Appropriately for the birthplace of Facebook, the social networking site still seems to have a durable appeal for these teenagers.

The numbers with an account are slightly down from the near-universal, but 96% of these students are still using Facebook.

They'll be able to scroll back and see their college pictures when they're running the country.