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Adult Learner (24), decided on the Extension school, What to expect?

coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
I graduated from a good parochial high school with a 4.0125, mediocre SAT, and solid ECs and community service in 2014, but didn't attend college due to mental health reasons. I tried SNHU for 1 semester and found it to be poor quality and unengaging. I also attended community college for a week shortly before that and wasn't impressed (classes too easy, students disinterested in learning) in 2015. I had previously been easily accepted into 20 schools with acceptance rates of 25%-50%. In 2017, I applied and was rejected from AFI, and in 2018 I was rejected from Brown University's RUE program as a theatre major. I am currently a working professional theatre actress who gets paid to be onstage. Since I have a tight schedule during shows and I'm out of the typical age bracket, I decided against going to a traditional state or private liberal arts school. And since community colleges and other online programs like SNHU, Phoenix, and State School/CC classes online don't seem worth the money (I was preenrolled in a CC class online where the "assignments" were watching otherwise free YouTube videos and paying a lot of money to do so) I researched and registered for my first class at Harvard Extension School this past week. So far, looking at the syllabus, the course is set to be challenging and not at all like the other classes that I've taken/almost taken in the past. I'm excited to be doing real academic work again, but also a little worried. I know I must attend the live conferences and that I won't be able to work at those times, and I'm not sure how I will work regularly at all if I can get my 3 B or aboves, be admitted, and study full time. Since I waited 6 years to be able to get financial aid on my own merit, I would rely on it heavily for any courses taken if I'm admitted, but for now, I can only take the 3 classes 1 at a time, because I have to charge the full amount on my credit card. I still live at home and get fed by my family, but I do buy all of my own clothing, some groceries, and pay my general bills myself. I am on SSI Disabilty, with minor additional income from acting. My total personal income is less than $10K per year, so my EFC is zero. I just would like some insight into what to expect (from someone who has attented.) I plan to eventually study English and use HES as a means to get to graduate school for Acting, so that I will be eligible to take teaching positions in the arts or go to law school to specialize in Entertainment Law. I am still deciding. I am especially interested in Columbia's MFA/JD joint program and the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA.
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Replies to: Adult Learner (24), decided on the Extension school, What to expect?

  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited November 15
    I would not choose the Harvard extension school in your situation. You will have to pay substantially for the first three courses, for one thing. It can be difficult to collect classes for a real major/concentration. Are you based in the Boston area? Housing is expensive there, as well.....

    There are other options that might work better for you.

    I also would not get too far ahead of yourself in terms of future career and degrees.

    If you are a working professional, check out Goddard and Union Institute for adult learners. UMass without Walls and Lesley adult learner program as well. You can get credit for life experience at these schools, as well as for your current work, and there might be more flexibility.

    If finances are an issue, that will guide your choices and you may have to sacrifice quality a bit. Many state universities and colleges have online classes.

    Otherwise, attending full-time with financial aid, paid room and board, paid health insurance, might be a good way to go and you still have time to apply. Maybe go to the theater major forum here on CC for suggestions.

    Bennington has a field work term and you could work then. It has an excellent theater program. There are so many others.

    It seems you want an Ivy since you applied to Brown and now Harvard extension. I would think about broadening your choices.

    Also, watch out for stress! It is fine to start with one or two classes and see how that fits with the rest of what you are doing.

    edited November 15
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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    I'm not in Boston, but I am in Massachusetts and plan to take everything online except the required four courses, for which I could do a 1.5 hour commute or do summer school and save up for the two months' rent over four years (I plan on pushing those back.) I know I can get the full Pell Grant which after classes 1-3 would cover probably a half-time schedule. But my parents did offer to help out with the rest and possibly reimburse the first 3 *if* I'm doing well.

    The reason I'm seeking an Ivy is that I already know that, being the Extension School, the "quality" is supposedly a little less than Harvard College (or so I heard.) In turn the quality of UMass without walls would likely be a downstep from attending a UMass in person. I've always been highly motivated and a high achiever + likely to do worse in classes that I find easy or boring, so I'm not planning on paying for the Harvard name, I'm planning on paying for the Harvard academic rigor.

    And for the careers, I was just throwing out there some possible degrees I might be interested in. I have my mind set on Brown/Trinity MFA in particular. Anything else, including parochial or public grad schools, are just in my mind as other possible avenues or career tracks should I wish to earn more money.

    I'm also applying to Yale Eli Whitney because I got a fee waiver (I expect a rejection), but I can't really see myself in Connecticut when I've been doing so well in the MA/RI area the last couple years. Moving into a dorm is out of the question. Between having ASD and the fact that I'd be 6 years older than my classmates + the toll it would take on my schedule, it just wouldn't work.

    I highly appreciate you're input, compmom, but I have looked into and even very briefly attended some other programs (including UMassOnline, two community colleges, and SNHU for one semester, among others) and this is the first time I've found a mostly-online program of this quality that's interactive and actually requires the use of some printed books, etc. It feels less modern, but in a good way.

    Cheers,

    coffeehigh1995
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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    I had a whole response to this but it didn't save. I do have a way to make this work set in place, but I appreciate the helpful comment.
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited November 19
    UMass Lowell has a newish online degree in English. The UMass Boston English department is excellent. I really think there are better options than Harvard Extension. Do you want a BLA or BA? THe BLA is a way that adult learner programs get around the requirements for a full major/concentration.

    Harvard Extension has great classes, attended by high school students, retirees, and working professionals as well as other non-traditional students. But it may not have the flexibility you need. I would think an all-online program would work for you.
    edited November 19
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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    I don't want to argue about stuff on here, but this is what I want to do. I'm applying to Eli Whitney but that won't happen & tbh I don't want it to.

    I am strongly, strongly against the fully online format that I had at SNHU. I don't work full-time yet *because* I don't have a college degree. All the working actors who make it to the bigger theatres in Boston and Providence, which is my market, have MFA degrees in theatre, and their prior bachelor's degree is irrelevant.

    However, a prior bachelor's from HES would probably look better for grad school than one from a public school's entirely online program. And I really do need the routine and discipline that having to come up with a schedule would give me. And the possibility of being given the *privilege* to take 4 classes 4 years from now on such a beautiful campus with skilled instructors would be worth losing one role to do the summer school. I often make $25 to $100 per role. I'm not in the union. It's a labor of love, but if I want the $900/week LORT B salaries of a place like the Huntington, or the ability to teach a high school theatre class and make $40,000 a year and rent my own apartment, having a much lower-quality education is not the way to go.
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  • gibbygibby 10530 replies246 threads Senior Member
    edited November 19
    All the working actors who make it to the bigger theatres in Boston and Providence, which is my market, have MFA degrees in theatre.

    As someone who has made his living from the acting biz for 45+ years, you are speaking like a newbie. Grow up and grow a pair!!!

    Acting is a trade — like a plumber or an electrician — and obtaining a master's degree does not mean you will book more roles than someone with a bachelors or a high school degree.

    IMHO, if you really want to pursue the business of acting, you would be far better off to move to LA or NY and take acting classes there than enrolling in Harvard's extension school.

    Full Disclosure: I graduated in 1977 from Boston University's consecratory acting program, moved to NY and took classes with Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen. I'm a member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and have earned a 39-year combined pension in those unions, so I know a thing tor two about the biz. If your'e interested in pursuing theater, HES is NOT the answer.
    edited November 19
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    I know a few actual Harvard College grads who tried to make it in theater in NYC and ended up in law school :)

    Does HES even have a thorough English or theater concentration? It is a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, which does not require the kind of clear focus a BA does.

    If you want to go to school in person, versus online, there are better choices, or as @Gibby says (very impressed Gibby) take acting classes or pursue a BFA/

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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    I’m doing pretty well in NE theatre. If I ever went to NYC it would be for the cheap taxis :) ... I don’t want to go to a totally in person school due to anxiety but I like HES’ hybrid style bc it seems like it might feel more structured that way.

    Law is something I do think about but I’d rather teach high school or college theatre as my day job hence why I’d need the MFA. In my area they don’t hire teachers who only have a BA/BS/BFA/etc.

    HES does have English as a concentration but they have a lot of interesting Shakespeare courses and the like that are related to theatre. I also have interest in exploring Government as a minor especially since the current college credits I have (only about 10 credits) are in history and psych. I have a broad range of interests including medicine ( I took psych, forensics, and AP Biology in high school), politics, foreign languages ( I can read and write several/speak a few & am a member of the international Portuguese honor society), and songwriting/playwriting/screenwriting.

    I’ve also showed an interest in directing and have been told by directors that it’s my strongest theatrical talent, followed by acting ( my current title), with writing hitting third place.

    I guess the reason I still plan on going to HES is because I want an extremely rigorous mostly online education. The fact that I can’t do much unless I get good grades in the first three courses, while daunting, at least assures me that there’s some weeding out being done. When I did a semester at Southern New Hampshire University, I could have very easily falsified my credentials, which shocked me. They did not require any proof of high school attendance that was actually definitive and they accept
    everyone. Places like UMass without walls will accept you as long as you didn’t fail HS completely. C’s and D’s are enough.

    Not the environment I’m looking for.
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  • gibbygibby 10530 replies246 threads Senior Member
    edited November 22
    don’t want to go to a totally in person school due to anxiety

    ANXIETY is what what actors deal with on a daily basis just by showing up at auditions. So, maybe you should try casting instead -- that doesn't require a you obtain a bachelors or a masters degree.

    FWIW: When I attended Boston University, the acting department "cut" students every year, recommending they leave the acting field and try something else. One of my fellow students who didn't get the nod was Tara Jane Rubin -- now one of the best known Casting Directors on Broadway (https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/tara-rubin-515782/)
    edited November 22
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    You seem to be interested mainly in Ivy League schools and like many others, are looking forward to HES because of its connection to Harvard. I hope it serves your needs. It is understandable that you want some quality and rigor. If HES does not meet your needs, there are many other online programs (check out BU's) as well as low residency programs like Goddard and Union Institute. Good luck!
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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    gibby wrote: »
    don’t want to go to a totally in person school due to anxiety

    ANXIETY is what what actors deal with on a daily basis just by showing up at auditions. So, maybe you should try casting instead -- that doesn't require a you obtain a bachelors or a masters degree.

    FWIW: When I attended Boston University, the acting department "cut" students every year, recommending they leave the acting field and try something else. One of my fellow students who didn't get the nod was Tara Jane Rubin -- now one of the best known Casting Directors on Broadway (https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/tara-rubin-515782/)

    I think you missed the mark a little. My anxieties are directly related to the school setting itself. I have severe ADHD so being in a traditional classroom, especially as an adult, would be very stressful. When I'm onstage, I don't get nervous because I think of what the character's thoughts would be instead of my own (like method acting.) I forgot to mention earlier that although I don't have any degrees, I WAS trained at a regional theatre with past Tony wins (the theatre, not me haha) and took classes.

    The rehearsal process can be stressful, with 10-12 hour days, sometimes for a month without breaks. But that's also the fun part. I actually get MORE stressed if I have scenes where I have to cuddle up to a hot co-actor than what I stress over remembering lines and cues. That stuff comes on its own after a certain degree of repetition.
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  • coffeehigh1995coffeehigh1995 7 replies1 threads New Member
    compmom wrote: »
    You seem to be interested mainly in Ivy League schools and like many others, are looking forward to HES because of its connection to Harvard. I hope it serves your needs. It is understandable that you want some quality and rigor. If HES does not meet your needs, there are many other online programs (check out BU's) as well as low residency programs like Goddard and Union Institute. Good luck!

    Yeah, that makes sense. I always planned on applying to Ivies as a teen because my grades had been so high, but then life kind of ran away from me. I will definitely look into BU's program if this doesn't work out. I have former classmates who went there and liked it. I know they have a great theatre program as well, and many talented actors are alumni of Boston University, although their online offerings might be different. Thanks for the helpful comments.
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    BU has Metropolitan College which is excellent, and can be done in person. BU's online program had a lot of variety in classes. http://www.bu.edu/online/programs/undergraduate-program/undergraduate-degree-completion-program/
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    Here is Metropolitan's main page fyi https://www.bu.edu/met/programs/
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