Hogwarts or Harvard?

Barry Lenson

Hogwarts or Harvard? 

Harry Potter knows which school offers the best value. Do you?

If you had the choice of going to Hogwarts or Harvard University, which would you choose?

A year ago, it would have been impossible to answer that question. But no longer, thanks to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new theme park at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando. There’s a real live replica of Harry Potter’s alma mater, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can book a stay at a neighboring hotel and spend your days dodging dragons and attending classes at Hogwarts.

So, which offers the most? Let’s take an objective look at both . . .

Which has the coolest website? Sure, Harvard University has a pretty posh website. It even includes a picture of a whale skeleton – a lame attempt to compete with Hogwarts. But if you want embedded videos, unfurling scrolls and lots of other cool stuff, Hogwarts wins by a wizarding mile.

Which has the best athletics? Harvard has display cases of sports trophies that have been won by Crimson teams over the last 100+ years. The Wizarding World lets you jump on a broom and fly around a virtual Quidditch stadium. So we’ll say that Harvard and Hogwarts are dead even in this category.

Which has the most famous professors? Hogwarts has Professors Snape, Trelawny, Lupin, McGonagall, not to mention “Mad-Eye” Moody. Case closed.

Which has the best rides? Correct us if we’re wrong, but we don’t think that Harvard has any rides. Maybe Harvard will install a roller-coaster next year to compete with Hogwarts.

Which has the best maintenance staff? Hogwarts has Hagrid. Need we say more?

Which has the more awe-inspiring leader? Hogwarts has Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. The President of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, has a pretty cool name for sure. (That “Faust” thing is a nice touch but remember, it’s competing with “Wulfric.”) You make the call.

Which sells the coolest stuff in its campus store? No contest, Hogwarts wins. Does the Harvard Coop sell magic wands, wizard’s hats, dragon eggs or Quidditch brooms? Harvard, you have some merchandising to do.

Which costs more? This is hard to reckon, but let’s take a stab.  A family of four pays $1569 for a four-day stay at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, including access to Wizarding World. So figure that comes to about $100/day per person. Harvard costs about $50,000 for a school year that includes roughly 200 days of instruction, which comes out to $250/day per person.  Note that neither package – Hogwarts or Harvard – includes airfare. So Hogwarts wins.

Which diploma commands the most respect? Hard to say. But when employers realize that Hogwarts grads can vaporize serpents and hide under invisibility cloaks, we bet the demand for them will surge in the current recession.

So is it Hogwarts or Harvard University for you? Grab your wand and owl, and let your heart be your guide.

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