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Harvard Extension School Undergraduate program

bianca94bstbianca94bst Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I've read all the other forums and got my info off the HES website. I want to know your opinion on students of HES and if my situation is worth putting my time and money.

I'm really attracted to the flexibility that the program gives, since I work full time. But some background on myself....

I graduated high school in 2012 and never went to college because my GPA was 1.9 and I never took SAT's. This wasn't due to the lack of education I had, I just dealt with a lot of medical problems in high school and was never in school. I do hold a HS Diploma though. During my HS time I took honors and AP courses so I feel like if I work harder than ever I can handle the HES classes. I also never went to community college and it is still very difficult for me to try and attend one because I couldn't afford the tuition and never was eligible for FASFA since I'm in a gray area where my mom made too much money and we didn't have enough money together to pay for classes. I just moved to MA from CA and I'm considered out of state still so I can't go to any community colleges here.

My new job pays well and I would be able to afford the classes at HES (cheaper than community college out of state, which is crazy) and attend them since they are at night or online. Am I wasting my time and money for my situation and background on HES? I'm planning on doing a bachelors of liberal arts in Dramatic arts with a minor in English or creative writing. I do not plan to get a masters degree after I would just really love the opportunity to finally expand my knowledge and experience college.

Also what is your opinion on HES students, are they still considered Harvard students or not? I don't plan on going around saying I'm going to be a Harvard grad because let's face it, I didn't earn that, but I would say I'm a student of HES. Just curious... thanks.

Replies to: Harvard Extension School Undergraduate program

  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 6,309 Senior Member
    Harvard Extension is a great program. I would not look to it for any prestige whatsoever. It's not about prestige. It provides a very high quality liberal arts education primarily to a population of working people with a small number of recent HS grads.

    I've taken 5 classes and they were all pretty rigorous. Many of the students are very dedicated.

    Since you haven't said what you hope to get out of the classes, or even the degree program, it's hard to say if it is worth it. If you want the education for it's own sake it's definitely worth it. If you are concerned about transferring the credits, it's always best to talk to someone at the institution where you intend to get your degree.
  • bianca94bstbianca94bst Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I honestly just want a great education. I’m not trying to do anything more than get a bachelors degree at my own pace and time. I really feel like I’m ready but want to make the right decision.
  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,521 Senior Member
    edited June 14
    Most employers "in the know" understand the difference between a degree from Harvard College and a degree from Harvard Extension School (one has less than a 5% admissions rate with the average student being single and about 20-years old; the other has close to a 40% admit rate with the average student being married and around 33 years of age).

    If you do not live in the Boston area (HES students do not live on campus and students must commute or pay for housing in Cambridge, Somerville, Weston etc), I believe you would be better off attending a local MA flagship state college such as UMass rather than Harvard Extension School: http://blogs.harvard.edu/lamont/2017/11/06/what-employers-think-about-harvard-extension-school-degrees/
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,855 Senior Member
    There is no financial aid for the first few classes, until you gain entrance after proving you can do the work. I find the classes to be expensive.

    There are countless schools in the Boston area that I think would be a better fit for you. Are you open to online classes? If so, you don't even have to limit yourself to one area.

    Check out Lesley's adult learner programs, UMass Boston or UMass Lowell regular undergrad, continuing ed and online. Even BU's Metropolitan College, though that is pricey. (BU also has a degree completion program online)

    UMass without Walls or UMass online- google them- might be a resource, especially UMass without Walls.

    Community college should be way less expensive than HES. Not sure where you get your figures. Bunker Hill, North Shore, many others. Also Salem State, Framingham, Bridgewater etc.


    You will have a better experience with supports offered at some of these options, with a lower price, and some offer a BA or BS versus the HES BLA, a degree which basically distinguishes HES students from Harvard students who get AB's.


    As for affordability, Cambridge is tough place to rent in. Lowell is pretty affordable still, and sometimes Sale. Or maybe you are living at home.


    Finally, when you turn 24 your financial aid won't include any info from parents. It will depend on your income alone.
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,199 Senior Member
    @bianca94bst I like your approach. I think it's fine to say that you're an HES student. You will be a Harvard University alum once you've completed some coursework, so you can certainly say that you are. There's not much mingling between HES students/alumni and, say HLS students/alumni, though, but it sounds like that's not important for you. I say go for it.
  • CiCiiiCiCiii Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Hi everyone! I am 25 years old Italian citizen, I already hold a BA in communication from an italian uni, and a MSc in political sciences from the London School of Economics (LSE). I am currently working in international organizations such as the UN - it's now been almost 2 years. I would like to study again, most likely next year or in 2020, and I always wanted to go to a top tier US university - Harvard being the top choice. The fact is, my family cannot afford to pay me a Master at Harvard uni at the Kennedy School of Government or the GSAS, and as an international student I would never receive financial aid to totally cover the expenses of one of their Master programs. That being said, I still want to go to Harvard, and experience studying in a US university. So I casually found out about Harvard Extension School: a part of Harvard university, that offers special Master degrees (Master of Liberal Arts, AML) in a variety of disciplines, with the possibility to follow partly online an partly on campus, the possibility to take a maximum of 5 years to complete the program, and obviously reduced tuition fees. A Master at GSAS would cost me around 160.000 USD for two years, while a Master of Liberal Arts at Harvard Extension School would cost me a mere 55.000 USD. I emailed Harvard Extension School for more information, but I already see there are some fundamental issues as an international applicant. International students are not given the I-20 module for the F visas, as HES is an instituion offering part-time education, so I would be obliged to follow the master mainly online. The only periods I could be on campus would be during 2 summers, following courses from the Harvard Summer School that would count towards my AML. I am not sure how beneficial this AML is if you have to do it mainly online, and you only have access to Harvard campus, resources, and professors in the framework of the Summer School. I would just like to experience Harvard and a top US university, pursuing a degree which is more affordable for me and my family, can be completed while working, and that can give me some new skills and knowledge. Has any of you ever pursued a Master of Liberal Arts at the Harvard Extension School? Any internationals that have done so? Or is there any of you that could provide more information and more advice on the topic? Thank you!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,855 Senior Member
    edited November 24
    Harvard Extension School is different from Harvard' s other grad schools. HES was started to accommodate working adults and does not offer the typical Harvard experience. Are you looking at HES for the prestige of Harvard? Overall I think there are other options that might better suit your needs. Would you prefer a degree done on campus or is online acceptable to you?
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