How Prestige Is Harvard Extension?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sshuang, Mar 3, 2009.

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  1. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    Christ, can we please put this to rest. People have differing opinions about the school. The administration seems to think it's good enough to carry the Harvard name. Please quit bringing this ignorant debate out of the closet.
    Oh, and any person who would do a degree simply because it has the Harvard name attached to it, isn't in an area of study they are interested in and doesn't assist them in the career track is an idiot seeking prestige for prestige sake. Other Harvard alums will laugh at you behind your back (some to your face) at University gatherings. I saw it first hand at the Harvard Club in DC earlier this summer.
  2. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    That's ad-hominem. I'm not bitter. I just don't agree with some of you that Harvard Extension graduates are somehow superior to graduates of other programs. I'm not likely to give an HEX graduate any special preference in hiring and promotions because of where they took their classes.

    I'd definitely be interested in the fact that they graduated from HEX. I'd probably ask the graduate how they liked the program. The individual would score points with me by showing that they valued continuing education and had obtained it from a very reputable source.

    But... if I sensed that the individual was posturing, if I sensed that the individual was throwing around the 'Harvard' name and thought that his/her application should receive preference, then I'd be less impressed. I might start to worry that the individual had attitude issues and might not play well with other employees.

    I think that a lot of the controversy here revolves around the fact that HEX on one hand, and Harvard College and the Harvard graduate schools on the other, have radically different admissions standards. HEX is effectively open-admissions, the others are typically among the most selective programs in the United States.

    I thought that they were excellent analogies, and very apt. Imagine a luxurious Mercedes sedan, and imagine a GMC truck. Now suppose that Mercedes Benz also manufactures a line of heavy cargo trucks (I believe that they actually do). Which vehicle is the better comparison with that Mercedes Benz truck - The plush Mercedes sedan? After all, the truck and the sedan both have the Mercedes name and logo on them. Both are indisputably Mercedes Benz products. Or is the better comparison with the GMC truck? These are both the same kind of vehicles, built to serve a similar purpose.

    That's why I'm inclined to think that Harvard Extension's peer institutions are places like San Jose State. Places that have relatively open admissions (SJSU is actually more selective than HEX when it comes to that) and offer lots of night classes to working adults. Both HEX and SJSU believe that expanding access to higher education is a big part of their mission.

    Why is the failure to think that HEX graduates are somehow superior to graduates of all the other programs out there interpreted as demeaning rudeness towards them?

    Nobody's suggesting that Harvard Extension isn't a great place to take classes or even to take a degree. It's just that it's not necessarily better than every other place.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  3. rebel100

    rebel100 New Member

    I'm curious about to expand? Somebody miss a secret handshake or something?

    I must be dense...I really don't get the HES hate, nor the insecurity that some HES students seem to have. The only school that gets me worked up is UofP...but even then I don't hate the students that went there, just feel like they could have done better.
  4. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    No secret handshake. It was a middle-aged guy (mid-40's) who was blow hard about being a Harvard alum in a room full of Harvard alums. Small talk led to discussions about careers and the guy essentially told a group that he only attended because it was Harvard, the degree had no relevance to him (he picked what he thought would be easiest for him) so he could call him self an alum.

    Let me be clear, I've never seen this done before. The HES alums I've met at events are typically well received. This particular guy just rubbed some attendees the wrong way.
  5. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    I doubt the whole "laughing in your face" thing is exclusive to Harvard. If someone were to go to, say, ASU only because they are a tier 1 top rated school and had absolutely no idea what to do, how to do that level of work, and had no interest in any of their offerings, well then I think they would likely be made fun of. BUT, what is wrong with attending a school like ASU online, Auburn online, UMass online, Penn State online, HES, MIT Extension, Syracuse online, UC Berkeley, University of Denver University College, etc etc etc if you are prepared to work hard, have a major you are interested in, AND want the well known and respected name?

    HES offers adults like me a great opportunity to have a Harvard education (complete with Harvard classes taught by Harvard professors), flexible online classes, great prices, and yes, the chance to be able to say "I'm a Harvard graduate." So the enrollment process is more lax. No one said it was as selective as Harvard College. HES is geared towards non traditional learners, so of course the INITIAL chance to take the first 3 classes will be easier. BUT, you have to maintain a certain gpa to not only be admitted but also graduate. You have to do HARVARD classes taught by HARVARD professors. You still have to work your butt off. In researching this school, I'm actually quite impressed with it. I really like their International Relations concentration for the masters degree, and I may very well look into it. BUT, there's several components involved in getting accepted. Writing samples, a certain undergrad gpa, passing 3 classes with a B or higher. So to say its easy to get in is wrong. Maybe its not the same SELECTION process as Harvard College, but it is still hard to actually get into the degree program and harder yet to actually graduate.

    HES is part of Harvard University. So a HES graduate is just as much a Harvard graduate as any other graduate from any other school in the University. Oh, and most big schools (Auburn included) allow students to enroll in individual classes without seeking a degree. "Cherry picking classes", I believe it's called. So does that mean, because there's almost no selectivity when allowing students to cherry pick classes, all colleges are now crap? Just wondering.....
  6. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    ASU isn't a tier 1 University. MIT doesn't have a degree granting extension school.

    I'm not really following your argument or your logic here. First, I don't need your diatribe on Harvard. I was employed there for three years, I have a degree from the University and have taken courses at HES. I never said an HES grad wasn't a real Harvard alum. I said that it is my OPINION that attending HES for the sake of saying you're a Harvard alum is stupid and I am right. Additionally, you clearly haven't done all of your research. Not all HES courses are taught by Harvard faculty, in fact most are not. Look, if you want to shell out $20k+ for ALM from HES for a degree that is for nothing other than to stroke your ego that's fine, just realize you could get the same education by visiting your city library. Again, I'm not knocking HES, great school. I'm knocking the morons that spend $20k to attend simply because it is Harvard and have no real interest in what they are studying or no plans to use the degree in a real world setting (it happens far more than you think).

    This argument doesn't make sense so I won't bother replying. Why don't you sit a couple plays out, Champ.
  7. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    First of all, Arizona State IS a tier 1 school. Research it. Second, maybe you should do more research. Almost all schools, including the big names, offer online classes without getting degrees. Since they do, just as HES does, does that make them somehow worse for it? And lastly, everything I've read says that HES classes are taught by Harvard professors. In fact, the criteria to actually graduate with a degree from HES is that the classes are taught by Harvard professors. You can transfer in a certain number of classes from elsewhere, but in order to actually get the degree from HES, you need to take a certain number of classes from there TAUGHT BY HARVARD PROFESSORS. And anyone attending any school just for the sake of a name isnt all that smart. Its not exclusive to Harvard. Perhaps you should stop being an a$$ and speak to me and others with a modicum of respect. No one has done anything to you personally, so being nasty in your responses isn't called for.
  8. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    Again, ASU is not a tier 1 school, but you can have your opinion and I'll just be right. Secondly, no, the majority of HES classes are not taught by Harvard faculty. It's true that the school has requirements regarding how many of your courses must be taught by Harvard faculty, but when looking at the school's entire course offering you'll find that over half of the courses are taught by instructors from outside the university. That is why you have to be diligent when developing your course plan. Again, we can base this on the limited reading you've done on the HES website and various message boards OR on the first hand knowledge of someone who has taken courses through the school, spent three years at the University in which the school is housed and has numerous colleagues who have graduated from the school.

    And for the record, I reply to people's comments with the exact amount of respect said comment deserves.
  9. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    If you attach so much importance to the "freaking HARVARD!!!" name, then the solution is obvious -- you should simply relocate to the Boston area. Then the residency requirement won't be an issue.

    Or is that a ridiculous idea?

    Now consider the following fact, from Harvard Extension School itself:

    So are these people being ridiculous? It's one thing to move from a different state, or even a different country, to attend Harvard College or Harvard Law or Harvard Business School. It's another thing to move to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Extension School, which objectively offers no better (or worse) a degree than any reasonably selective public university in your home state.

    Harvard Extension programs are a perfectly good option for many people in the Boston area; if I lived there, I might take advantage of them myself. But some people get carried away by the need to possess the "Harvard" brand name. And those people are subject to ridicule, both inside the Harvard community and outside it.
  10. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Oh, and it seems that there are several Ivy schools that are in on the online offerings. Does that make them less, too?

    Do Yale, Harvard Or Other Ivy League Schools Offer Online Courses / Degrees? | How To E-D-U

    Online Education in the Ivy League - US News and World Report

    Do any ivy league schools offer full online degree programs? - Yahoo! Answers

    Oh, and as for whether ASU is a tier 1 school or not, here ya go:
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  11. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Show me where ASU is not a tier 1 college. Because everything I find when I look it up says otherwise. So show me where it specifically says ANYWHERE that ASU is NOT a tier 1 school?
  12. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    And I agree, to move all the way to Boston just to attend Harvard for no other reason than because it's Harvard, well that doesn't make a lot of sense. But to attend Harvard online because it offers your desired major, the price is right, and also because it's Harvard, well that makes more sense. We can't pretend that name recognition doesn't matter, because we all know it does. But to choose a school solely because of it's name, no matter what school it is, is never a good idea. However, it's also not a good idea to assume that anyone choosing Harvard Extension is only choosing it because it's part of Harvard University. Some people may also want the challenge, the rigor, the offered major, the price, and yes, the name. All those things combined make choosing HES a good idea.
  13. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Don't bother fighting over the term "Tier 1 University". It doesn't really mean anything, because there is no standard definition. People just use the term to refer to schools that they like.

    Kind of like the term "diploma mill" -- there is no universal definition of a "diploma mill", so basically it just refers to any school that you want to put down.

    In the US, the term "Tier 1" often (but not always) refers to schools that are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The AAU is a group of 61 research-intensive public and private universities in the US and Canada; membership is by invitation only. ASU is not currently a member (though University of Arizona made it in 1985).
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  14. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    I don't know. I know that GMU, OSU, Rutgers, and many others are ranked Tier 1, yet they are lower on the list than ASU. Everything I read, and I do mean EVERYTHING, says ASU is ranked a tier 1 college. So I think, regardless of whatever they may or may not be a member of, they are a tier 1 school. If US News ranks them as tier 1, then I think they are tier 1. National University Rankings | Top National Universities | US News Best Colleges
  15. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    There is no standard definition of the term, so if that is the definition that you want to use, that's fine.

    However, be aware that US News currently puts the top 75% of all national universities in the "First Tier". So this is not a very selective distinction. In other words, most national universities --around 200 total -- are ranked in the US News "First Tier".

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  16. mcjon77

    mcjon77 Member

    The thing about HES is that it is not open admissions. It is just a radically different method of admissions.

    You may THINK that it is "effectively open admissions" because of the seemingly simple requirement of getting at least a B in 3 classes and maintaining a 3.0 GPA, but this opinion would be misguided. From personal experience, the majority of people I know who started taking classes with the full intention of going into a degree program didn't make it. I know that for the ALM in IT (my program), even though it is an EXTREMELY popular major for people applying, they admit 60-70 people a year. My bet is that this is MAYBE 25% of the people who signed up for classes with the intention of getting admitted to this program.

    In fact, I have seen solid evidence (particularly in the case of the ALM in Management degree) that when "too many" people get admitted to a particular program HES increases the admissions requirements. In the case of the ALM in Management, they previously had that standard 3 B's /3.0 GPA requirement. From what I understand, enrollment exploded. Within 2 or 3 years, they changed the requirement to 3.33 GPA and they specified the courses that qualified for admission (an econ course and an accounting course were required to be 2 of the 3 admissions courses). Furthermore, they added a residency requirement of 6 courses, effectively destroying the ability of someone to do the program mostly via DL.

    There is a forum for HES students, both those admitted to degree programs and those who have not been admitted yet. It is astounding how many people come in psyched about taking their first course on the road to admission at HES, only to disappear after a few semesters. Harvard does not give out her degrees lightly.

    The problem with considering SJSU a peer institution (aside from the admissions issue which I dealt with above) is that it completely disregards a CORE factor in comparing schools, the QUALITY of the education. I have never been to SJSU, so it could be amazing, but I have attended two other low/mid tier state universities (Western Illinois University and Chicago State University). I have also attended three top 25 schools (Harvard, Georgetown, and Northwestern). There is a GIGANTIC difference in quality between those top schools and the lower ranked state schools. IMHO, this extends to their continuing studies departments as well.

    The REAL power of HES is that you get the opportunity to study with professors that are at the top of their field. I remember taking theory of computation with Harry Lewis. This is a guy who has been at Harvard for decades, having taught Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. I also had the opportunity to take Computational Biology with George Church. This guy is one of the founders of the human genome project (full disclosure: I dropped the class towards the end, the bio was just way too deep for me).

    For me, this is one of the KEY differences between studying at a top school and not studying at a top school. It was a difference that hit home when I transfered from WIU to Georgetown. I was a political science major at both schools, but the people I had access to at Georgetown just blew away WIU (a school that I still love to this day).

    If you want to look at peer institutions for HES, it is pretty easy:
    University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal & Professional Studies
    Northwestern University's School of Continuing Studies
    Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies
    Columbia University's School of Continuing Education AND their School of General Studies
    Johns Hopkin University's Advanced Academic Programs
    University of Chicago's Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies

    There are others, but these just happen to be the one's I am most familiar with. There are also several cases where a top university may have a program that is TECHNICALLY not in their continuing studies department, but is an evening program that matches up to one of the HES programs pretty well. The point is that MANY top universities have evening programs that offer high quality education to working professionals.
  17. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    AUS made the list in Washington Monthly magazine and Shanghai Jiao Tong University's annual ranking. Academics the world over look to those lists as the pinnacle of institutional achievement. Congratulations ASU, a university in Asia and a magazine with over 500 subscribers thinks you're great! Just so you're aware, ASU came in at #132 on the USNWR rankings, the most widely sited annual ranking. Does ASU News advertise that on their website?

    By your logic Auburn won the 2004 National Championship in football because Golf Digest said it's true. Congratulations Auburn. Two National Championships in the last 10 years (by NMTTD's logic)!

    Oh and the only other Ivy league schools that have degree granting programs with similar admissions guidelines to HES are Dartmouth, Penn and Columbia (and those program's admissions criteria are still more stringent than HES).
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  18. NMTTD

    NMTTD Active Member

    Yes, actually, ASU does mention that US News ranked them as #132. It still puts them in the tier 1 category. And they are higher up than GMU, OSU, Rutgers, and many others that are ranked Tier 1. Does their place on the list make them less tier 1? Um, no. Tier 1 is still tier 1. And whether you like it or not, ASU is still ranked tier 1.

    And as for HES, perhaps you couldn't hack it and that's why you're mad. I really don't know. But HES is still Harvard, just as UC Berkeley, UMass Online, Boston University online, and others are still THOSE SCHOOLS. Offering DL options doesn't make them less. It just makes them more accessible to those who are older, working, have families, but still want to put in the time and effort, be challenged, and at the end of the day be rewarded with a degree from a top ranked school. It's not a free ride or an easy degree. HES is still Harvard. It's just more accessible to people like me and many others who didn't have the opportunity to try to get in when we were younger and cannot relocate our families, attend traditional classes, and go through the entire process that going through Harvard College vs HES would require. It doesn't make us any less smart, capable, or determined to work hard and get a quality degree. It just means we can do it in a way that fits our lives. Via DL. Isnt that what we're suppose to be working towards? Making DL education more acceptable and widely known and appreciated? Not looked down on or considered inferior?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2012
  19. Koolcypher

    Koolcypher Member

    I don't want to pick sides, however, in Autiger's defense, he does have a Harvard degree, and worked for the university.
  20. Koolcypher

    Koolcypher Member

    Wait what! Auburn has a football team? Since when? J/k war eagle!:silly:
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