Harvard Extension School Student Forum

Come discuss with other HES students in a new forum who are at Harvard Extension School. Talk about life in and around Cambridge, Boston, classes, school, Harvard University, course reviews, and more. Interested in the best ways to travel to Harvard for your residency requirement? Check out the 'On and Around Campus' category for tips and advice. Want to join a book club with other Harvard Extension School students that read through the Harvard Classics? It's a Harvard education in and of itself. ExtensionStudentForum Forum categories include 'Job Postings & Job Seekers', 'Extension Confidential', 'Professional Graduate Certificates', 'HBX', 'ALB' and 'ALM' discussions. Extension Student Forum is brought to you by The Degree Tracker.

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This forum is exclusively for Harvard University students. The sponsor for this forum is an exciting new web app, The Degree Tracker. Track and plan your Harvard Extension School ALM and ALB degrees or professional graduate certificate. Course ratings, instructor reviews, accomplishment badges, planning, tracking, and other tools to help guide students through their HES journey. TheDegreeTracker is proud to bring you this tool to use to track your degree at Harvard Extension School. If you are a student who has more courses than you can keep track of, and you would like to plan out your degree pathway carefully, then track and plan courses with the Degree Tracker to take control of your education. Including course reviews and course ratings, TheDegreeTracker has the potential to not only guide you through your degree, but to let you help other students who might be wondering about the HES courses that you've taken. The Degree Tracker is glad to provide the Harvard Extension School Student Forum (ESF) to help foster a nurturing environment. This forum for was born in 2015 to create better Harvard Extension School friendships, networking, and information to contribute to a better overall HES experience. Extension students formerly congregated at forums such as philfac and extensionstudent. This website has no affiliation with either the philfac or extensionstudent websites. It has been created and run by 100% completely different leadership. For the extension student who wants a bigger taste of what life with other Harvard Extension students is like, combining the Degree Tracker and the extension student forum can foster that sense of community that others have on campus. Another advantage of participating in an online community over the Harvard campus is that extension students can develop permanent relationships with other extension students that being on a physical campus might not necessarily allow, since online students are great at staying in touch online.

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We'd be glad to hear your feedback. It's no piece of cake to graduate with your Bachelor of Liberal Arts or Master of Liberal Arts in a timely fashion, but your Bachelor's or Master's degree plan will only benefit from making use of the Degree Tracker and this exclusive forum for Harvard's marvelous students.

Comments

  • GratGrat Posts: 262
    edited December 2015
    My thoughts: Why not just call it an ALB or ALM from HES and cut out the "in extension studies" part? The ALB and ALM rather than BA or MA are already bad enough distractions. It's unfair to students to force them to explain the confusing degree to employers. I would prefer they switch it to BA and MA (and even allow for a BS and MS), which shouldn't be a problem as long as HES is listed as the school name, but at least take out the "in extension studies."

    I would like to add I am very thankful to the education I have received through the Extension School :)
  • Grat said:

    I would prefer they switch it to BA and MA (and even allow for a BS and MS), which shouldn't be a problem as long as HES is listed as the school name, but at least take out the "in extension studies."

    My understanding is that BA/BS or MA/MS degrees require more stringent and specific curriculum requirements than a liberal arts degree. Although at HES you can mimic the course load of an Arts & Sciences degree (as we have recently discussed with CS), the flexible nature of HES' programs may be why these degrees are not awarded (I cannot recall my source on this information, but I do know I came across that reasoning on a similar student forum discussing this topic). Nevertheless, none of this has anything to do with "in Extension Studies".
  • This is not the first time this discussion has surfaced. While I have heard many student arguments as to why "in Extension Studies" should be removed, what I haven't heard (and would very much appreciate for balanced discussion) are the valid arguments that Harvard faculty/administration have advocating its use. What do they believe it means and how do they see that it is relevant to our studies? Without hearing their official viewpoint and stance on the issue, I believe it will be difficult to launch an effective opposition.
  • GratGrat Posts: 262
    It seems like there are so many specific degree requirements for all of the degrees, though. Hence the creation of TheDegreeTracker.com. However, I do understand what you are saying about getting course-specific for maybe a handful more courses than they currently require for a specific field of study? What if they required a field of study, or a few more courses for masters students, and then awarded an BA/BS and MA/MS? What if they allowed a liberal arts degree as one option, where the courses one takes are even less restrictive than they currently offer? Of course, the "in extension studies" label is the main target, which I think has been around since like 1900.
  • For instance, to pursue a CS field of study for an ALB, it is only required that you complete 32 hours of CS courses. There are no requirements as to what those courses have to include. You could take 8 courses that are all introductory courses for certain topics. However, a BS/CS would typically require certain courses, such as Data Structures, Theory of Computation, etc. (not to mention specific math requirements). Now, if HES would require the same curriculum as HC does for the BS, I see no reason why we couldn't also earn the same degree. But as wide open and flexible as it currently is, I feel the ALB is appropriate. My $0.02.
  • GratGrat Posts: 262
    I do appreciate the freedom in picking courses that I feel like are going to help me out the most.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    edited December 2015
    I was going to post about this.
    If you come to the extension school site and follow the path through the site you see
    1. Earn a harvard degree...
    2.Earn a Master of Liberal Arts degree in one of 28 fields
    3.Digital media design (or software engineering etc.)

    So would you not conclude that you are receiving an ALM, Digital Media Design, Harvard University
    (or in software engineeing etc?)
    It is a little bait-and-switchy
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    edited December 2015
    I think the ALM refers to the cross-curricular nature of the degree? I do not think that this really applies to software engineering for sure. I assume the in extension studies part refers to the fact that these are not necessarily courses taught in the other schools. I don't know...but Im fairly certain that bejackson is correct in his assessment of why it is an ALM
  • GratGrat Posts: 262
    If one gets the Software Engineering or Programming certificate on their way to an ALM, that is a very specific required course list that could make a case to warrant receiving a MS. Especially a MS in something other than "in extension studies." :)

    I'm really not that discontent about this issue, but think things could be improved.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    edited December 2015
    Im not either. I think you can use either extension or in extension studies.
    What FAS can do is devise a proper software engineering MS if they want. It is not a degree at any of the other schools, as far as I know.
  • DmilesDmiles Posts: 41
    So, do the other schools' diplomas say "MBA in Business Studies" or "MA in Public Health Studies", etc.?
  • tokomontokomon Posts: 27
    edited December 2015
    In my experience, which I've noted before in a different post, the ALB and HES is already confusing enough. I have to explain that some Harvard schools use Latin, an ALB is a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, and that the HES isn't an online program. If the interviewer is an HC alum, I also have to explain that I'm not in a House or whatever.

    So attempting to explain "Extension Studies" just makes it worse. I say "attempt" because don't even have an answer to that if someone would ask me what it was. "It's...an indication that I did my coursework remotely? idk" It's a poor reflection of the university/HES and hurts the Harvard name.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    I don't know the answer. I would think that FAS could take a close look at the curricula and come up with degree names that are completely fair.
    I don't know if some of the problem is that there is too much in the way of intro courses, especially in digital media. I know i am not alone in wanting more advanced courses in a number of areas.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    Oh, to Grat's original point, ya I think ALM in the area in question is completely fair, since ALM already takes care of my point above, although liberal arts is still odd for tech degrees. SLM?
  • tokomon said:

    So attempting to explain "Extension Studies" just makes it worse. I say "attempt" because don't even have an answer to that if someone would ask me what it was.

    Another reason why hearing what reasons/arguments the Harvard administration has advocating its use is important. If they can't tell us, how are we to inform others?
  • bejackson said:

    tokomon said:

    So attempting to explain "Extension Studies" just makes it worse. I say "attempt" because don't even have an answer to that if someone would ask me what it was.

    Another reason why hearing what reasons/arguments the Harvard administration has advocating its use is important. If they can't tell us, how are we to inform others?
    I agree. I've heard reasons as to why they use ALB instead of AB (so at least I can reason that) but adding "Extension" is just outrageous. I hate to compare the HES to similar programs (LPS at UPenn and GS at Columbia for instance) but even they don't have an extra indication of "othering" students at those schools from The College at their respective universities the way the HES does. In other words, LPS/GS and College students alike all earn a BA/AB/BS whereas HES graduates earn a BLA/ALB...which is already enough to let folks know that, yes, we didn't go to the College. An ALB "in Extension Studies" is therefore redundant. They even have them studying alongside their College students whereas we have to join as "special students" after meeting certain requirements in a competitive application process. But I digress...

    Sure, we can indicate "Harvard University Extension School" on the résumé and consequently list our degree as "Bachelor of Liberal Arts" (without the Extension distinction), which is why I don't have a problem with the ALB. But Extension Studies? Come on.
  • isinyaginisinyagin Posts: 12
    edited March 2016
    Want to add my 5 cents to the problem. I graduate with ALB in 2014; currently enrolled in ALM, Software Engineering.

    For the last 6 months I've been looking for jobs in the US (I'm a remote foreign student). HES doesn't provide student visas for foreign students, so it was already a challenge to find companies that would even consider interviewing someone with a US degree, but without a temporary permit to work after graduation (so called OPT). I was aware of that from the very beginning, but didn't expect to that so few companies actually work with foreigners without experience. In case you're interested, I didn't get a single offer in Boston even though I tried really hard to move there. Luckily NYC and San Francisco were much more visa-friendly cities.

    After I found a couple of companies who were ready to interview despite the required visa sponsorship and almost lack of experience, I had to explain "liberal" part of the degree name (nobody actually paid attention to "Extension School" words). It wasn't too bad since most HRs and engineers I talked to were more interested in my actual knowledge and whether I can confirm that I know the things I listed in my resume. Liberal/extension "flaw" wasn't much of a concern for them (including big companies, e.x. Google, Microsoft). And I personally felt fine about that since my program of study really wasn't that rigorous compared to the college one (I skipped a couple of math classes that I wasn't interested in).

    However, after I got a job offer and started to work with the lawyers the real troubles came into play. The degree officially says "in extension studies" rather than "in Computer Science" whereas the transcripts specify concentration (sciences), field of study (computer science) and a minor (thesis/research). The lawyers immediately saw an inconsistency between transcripts and the diploma. For a couple of days I was explaining to them how HES works, provided links to the web site and even contacts of HES admission office for further inquiries. In the end, my attorney said that they'll have to send my degree for special evaluation to confirm Computer Science concentration because the transcripts specify one thing and the diploma a different one.

    I'm sure it will all work out and I'll get an additional paper from some evaluation service that will confirm that my degree is a real computer science degree, but Harvard should feel embarrasses that lawyers have to send a degree from Harvard with transcripts to verify the field of study mentioned in the transcripts.

    In short, I don't complain about "liberal" arts or requirement to specify Extension School in my resume and about frankly explaining to employers what school I attended and why. I slightly object the lack of F1 support because that wasn't the case before 2009. However, I strongly feel that the degree conferred in Harvard Yard in Tercentenary Theatre with all other Harvard diplomats should not be a subject for any additional verification or legal doubts.
  • CatsCats Posts: 16
    edited March 2016
    Thanks for your insights. As an international student, I prefer to stay in my country instead of looking for work in the US--Harvard has more prestige in Europe. Here, employers don't even pay attention to the "Extension Studies." Why did you choose to work in the US?
  • isinyaginisinyagin Posts: 12
    Let me put it the following way - I preferred not to stay in my home country for different reasons including the overall level of software engineering.

    Given my knowledge of non-programming languages I was choosing between English speaking countries and US seemed to be the best place for me to settle down. I really got used to staying here over the past couple of years I've been visiting the US and I don't feel as much of an here as I do in Europe where most countries are mono-cultural.
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    I suppose i would be nosy if I asked where you are from? So true what you say about homogenous cultures in each European country.
  • isinyaginisinyagin Posts: 12
    Russia
  • nancymicnancymic Posts: 185
    Nice:)
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