Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in Fall Clean-Up?

Fall Clean-Up welcomes more than 300 students every year from all over the United States and many countries around the world. All incoming Harvard College first-year students are eligible to participate in Fall Clean-Up!

Visit the student experiences page for personal reflections from past FCU participants.

Does it cost anything to participate in FCU?

No! In fact, Dorm Crew's Fall Clean-up is the only pre-orientation program that pays students who participate! Nevertheless, while the paycheck is nice, most students find the camaraderie and hard work even more rewarding. In 2018, the pay rate is $13.50/hour. Students who work all six days can expect to earn more than $500 before taxes.

Please note that a couple of optional activities, such as movie night in Boston, do cost $10 to $15, although some financial assistance is available. You may also want to bring some money for public transit and other incidental expenses.

Are meals provided during Fall Clean-Up?

Yes! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided every day (except for arrival day 8/20 when only dinner is provided).

Is housing provided during the week of Fall Clean-Up?

Housing is provided to all pre-orientation participants. During Fall Clean-Up, students live in one of the dorms in Harvard Yard. You will enjoy the standard dorm amenities of an extra-long twin bed, a desk, a chair, and a dresser. You are responsible for providing bed linens and pillows.

Can I skip a day of Fall Clean-Up?

No, we require students to participate in every day of Fall Clean-Up. The only exception is for students who are participating in both FCU and FYRE or FCU and FIP (see below for more info).

Can I participate in Fall Clean-Up and FYRE?

Possibly. There are a limited number of spots available for students to participate in both Fall Clean-Up and FYRE. You must separately apply and be accepted to both programs. If you participate in both programs, you will join FCU from Monday, August 20 to Thursday, August 23. You will join FYRE on the evening of August 23 through the end of Pre-Orientation on Sunday, August 26.

FYRE (First-Year Retreat & Experience) is a new pre-orientation program that aims to create a special community of friends and advisers to support and mentor you throughout your first-year. You'll interface with leading faculty and professors, hear talks from upperclassmen who were unsure how to navigate college life when they first arrived, create a tight-knit network of over 100 other freshmen and student leaders to guide you through Harvard, and learn your way around Harvard both physically and through the resources you'll be taught how to access.

Can I participate in Fall Clean-Up and FIP?

Possibly. The First-Year International Program (FIP) is an invitation-only Pre-Orientation program for international students and US residents who have lived and studied primarily overseas. If you participate in both programs, you will join FCU from Monday, August 20 to Thursday, August 23. You will join FIP on the evening of August 23 through the end of Pre-Orientation on Sunday, August 26.

You may participate in both FCU and FIP under the following conditions:

  • You are invited to participate in FIP
  • Your visa authorizes you for on-campus employment
  • You apply and are accepted to Fall Clean-Up.

If you are unsure whether you'll be authorized to work, please reach out to FIP or the Harvard International Office for assistance. If you are able to participate in FCU, we will help you apply for a U.S. Social Security number and card when you arrive for FCU. A Social Security number is used for employment and identification purposes by many institutions and government agencies in the U.S. If you receive a Social Security number during Fall Clean-Up, you can use that number for employment throughout your undergraduate studies as well as for opening bank accounts and credit cards. 

Will you really not let me work if I forget to bring supporting documents for my hiring paperwork?

We really, legally cannot let you work if you arrive to campus without the original, unexpired supporting documents we need to process your hiring paperwork. In past years, students who have forgotten items such as a Social Security card have had to have someone back home ship these documents overnight to the Dorm Crew Office. If we do not receive these documents, before work begins, you cannot start working!

Please carefully review our hiring paperwork instructions and email with any questions. 

Am I really limited to one suitcase and a carry-on?

Yes, we must limit you to one suitcase and one carry-on bag. There is very limited storage available during pre-orientation week and there simply is not enough space to accommodate all your belongings. Most FCU participants will have their parents deliver the rest of their things on first-year move-in day (Monday, August 27). You may also ship items to your Harvard Yard Mail Center address for pickup beginning on Monday, August 27th at 8:00am.

What time should I arrive for Fall Clean-Up?

The Fall Clean-Up registration desk is open from 8am to 8pm on Monday, August 20. Please do your best to arrive during this window. If you are absolutely not able to arrive during this time, please email to see if we are able to accommodate your circumstances.

How much money will I earn? How many hours will we work?

The pay rate for Fall Clean-Up is $13.50/hour, and participants will work approximately 38-40 hours over the course of Fall Clean-Up. You can expect to earn at least $500 before taxes if you work all 38-40 hours. If you continue working for Dorm Crew during the fall semester, the pay rate for term-time Dorm Crew jobs is $16.25/hour.

Students participating in  FCU and FIP or FCU and FYRE will only work for the first three days (approximately 18 hours total).

What is the work like?

The work during Fall Clean-Up is challenging. Dorm Crew thoroughly cleans Harvard's undergraduate residences from top to bottom, and we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness. Participants may be asked to help with any number of common cleaning tasks such as vacuuming, mopping, and moving furniture. If you've never done this before, don't worry! Our expert captains will train you thoroughly for every task you will undertake.

Most students find the work highly rewarding and enjoy the unique, behind-the-scenes peek at Harvard's historic housing. Most importantly, past FCU participants consistently find that they often develop a strong sense of community and friendship with their classmates while bonding over the work of Fall Clean-Up.

I've never cleaned before. Will that be a problem?

Not at all. Dorm Crew's highly trained captains will prepare you well for every task, and they are excited to pass on tips and tricks for getting any mess sorted out. In the past, several students have found the skill set they gained during Fall Clean-up valuable in their everyday lives. Thanks to the current teaching system in place, it is not unusual to find many successful Dorm Crew captains who came to their first FCU with no previous cleaning experience.

I notice we work over the weekend. Can I miss work for a religious observance?

Absolutely! The Harvard community welcomes students from all religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. As an employer, Dorm Crew strives to accommodate students' religious observances that may coincide with the regular work day. Fall Clean-Up participants may miss work for religious observance, but we ask that you please register this absence in advance by using the form below. Students will not be paid for the time they are not working.

Register your religious observance here.

Information regarding the times and places of worship for a variety of traditions can be found online at

Is Fall Clean-Up a work-study eligible job?

Yes, all Dorm Crew jobs—including Fall Clean-Up—are work-study eligible. Please email if you would like to apply your Federal Work Study award to your Fall Clean-Up position.

Can I receive mail during Fall Clean-Up? Can I ship my belongings to Harvard before Fall Clean-Up?

You CANNOT pick up mail or packages at your Harvard Yard Mail Center address during Fall Clean-Up. However, you may begin shipping items to your Harvard Yard Mail Center address in mid-August. You will be able to retrieve your mail and packages from the Harvard Yard Mail Center beginning on Monday, August 27 (move-in day). 

Please refer to the Freshman Dean's Office website for additional information about receiving mail and packages on campus.