There are many kinds of students who would thrive at Harvard. At the social level, many students who enter Harvard are part of a legacy, and so they do well in that old-boys-club social vibe. There are, of course, other ways to participate in Harvard's social community--from student governments, to clubs, etc. If you are a student who has a romantic idea about study itself, the professors, other students, and Cambridge/Boston landscape can be a perfect backdrop for your college experience. In general, I think Harvard students who seem to thrive the most (from academics to social life) tend to be self-sufficient or self-knowing. That overwhelming sense of Harvardness can put a lot of pressure on students to achieve, and at Harvard, that can often relate explicitly to financial achievement upon graduation. If you know that you want that or you know that you can turn that noise off and focus on the good work at hand (if you have a good internal moral compass), you'll be able to maneuver the institution in all of its glory as well as its shadows.