In 1876, when he was eighteen, young Theodore entered Harvard College. Like many freshmen, he found his first year rather rocky, but by the second year had found his place and was earning honors grades in his courses. Later in life he would write that he "thoroughly enjoyed" his time at Harvard. He originally intended to become a scientist, but realized later that the scientist's life was not for him. Although he continued to take science and natural history courses, he also concentrated on history, philosophy, political economy, and German.
Theodore was quite popular with the other men on campus. He was invited to join the prestigious Porcellian and Hasty Pudding Clubs, and became president of Alpha Delta Phi, vice-president of the Natural History Society, joined the glee club, was a member of the Class Committee, and edited The Harvard Advocate, an undergraduate publication. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, taught Sunday school every week, and boxed for the Harvard boxing team. His classmates began calling him "Teddy," and the name stuck. One of his classmates, Robert Bacon, later became his Secretary of State during the end of his presidency. Teddy graduated from Harvard in 1880.