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Harvard Extension School Liberal Arts Bachelor's Degree
#1
I am not sure where to post this question so I am posting it in the General Forum.  Does anyone have any experience or background information regarding younger adults going to Harvard Extension School for the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree?  I heard about Extension School within the last year and have limited knowledge of it. My son will be a High School Senior next year so he is going to take 12 College Credit Plus classes (early College from state of Ohio - not AP) during the next calendar year (inc. this Summer).  As we have already have invested a good amount of money in his private religious school, we are looking at various options including the traditional 4 year route.  Depending on the aid he would get, we are encouraging him to take a combination of College Credit Plus classes, Community College classes (they would be free), and CLEP classes and then earn his Associates degree.  We are looking for the best combination of lower cost to free courses and the best ROI for his degree so we are keeping options open.

Typically, the Harvard Extension Liberal Arts degree requires individuals to be working adults and have to be a minimum of 21 years of age. However, I have heard of some home schooled teens getting special permission to attend this program.  If he takes 2 years of Community College and gets his Associates Degree, he would just turn 21 before the Fall of his Junior year.  I would curious to hear about experiences with the HES Liberal Arts program and if anyone 20-30 year old children or even teens who attended?  He does not have the grades to get into Harvard in the regular route so this might be an option to get an Ivy League degree for $30k or less. Opinions welcome.

Thanks,

Education Seeker
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#2
Using the “not able to get into Harvard the regular route, but getting in this way” angle is probably incorrect. Basically, even though the Extension is part of Harvard. Being admitted into the program doesn’t make you the equivalent (from an academic and social perspective) to the students that were admitted via the College the traditional way. So once he gets into the ALB program he’ll have an asterisk next to his potential degree forever.  His participation will be isolated with other HES students into the way HES conducts their program, unless he gets special student status to attend classes with the traditional Harvard college students which comes at a more expensive tuition rate. But that's OK because HES students are special and are proud of their ALB and ALM degrees. It's a major sign of achievement because it's hard and meaningful, but an ALB is not the same thing as a traditional AB which is what we think of when we think of Harvard and the elite of society,  youth, future, etc. 

But the upside is that the quality of the courses at HES is great and on par with the rest of Harvard (It's the best online education in the world for its price, from an academic perspective) and he’ll join other learners who are there to challenge themselves, not to seek out false hope in the brand name of the degree. For example, I would enroll into the ALB program, because I like their catalog, schedule, and the way classes are conducted, but not to say that I'm a Harvard grad or Harvard material, because that I'll never be. I missed that boat already, plus I'm older and working, I have to take care of my home,  put food in the table, etc. I'm just an adult who enjoys learning and I know they have the best platform available today for my situation.

I honestly think that HES classes are amazing, the curriculums are carefully crafted, the material is hard, there's a lot of books to read per course, some courses require a lot of papers. All of this stuff stimulates my intellectual curiosity as an adult student who just works all day and comes home and studies, then spends time with his partner.  This leads to one downside, his peers are going to be people in their 30s and up since the Extension school is more for professionals and older people even at the ALB level. Though, there was recently a kid who graduated in his teens so there seems to be an upward trend in enrolling at a younger age. But he might’ve been an outlier.

Another issue is that HES is not just going to take that associates degree at full value. It’s not like TESC or Charter Oak where all your credits are accepted without any problems. There’s a minimum amount of credits that need to be with Harvard professors, a minimum amount of upper level credit needed that fit into your program curriculum, core components requirements, like ethics, math, writing intensive credits, etc. Plus, the credits have to be comparable and fit into the program that he chooses. So if you were planning to bring in 64 to cover the general education requirements, maybe think that probably 25 will be transferring in just so you’re not disappointed. One thing you could start doing now is have your son take expository expo-15, math e-3 and expo-25 in sequence and take it from there. Once those courses are completed, you can apply and see if the financials and time will work out for you. If that fails you can apply those credits towards a big 3 or any state college degree (or even Upenn's LPS program if you want to do an alternative to HES) and then just enroll him into a masters at HES afterwards which might come out cheaper.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Stoic's post:
  • davewill
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#3
Hmm, interesting. You're an amazing dad, pretty much planning everything for your son... Question, what if he doesn't want to go the Harvard route? What if he wants to go into trades or go to the local CC to get a "grounded" education the traditional way and then move up to a state college/uni for the Bachelors?

For the cost of $30K for the Ivy Bachelors maybe a great deal for someone like yourself who makes 6 figures, however, is it needed? Would a $35K Ivy Masters from HES sound better? For the $5K difference, if he works for a company that pays partial tuition through reimbursements, he can probably drop that down to $25K if he does go through with it for two years.

My suggestion is this, do an associates at a community college, bachelors at a local uni or through Big 3/WGU and other competency based degree providers and do the $35K "MASTERS" at the IVY uni (HES). If he does get the tuition reimbursement, that becomes $25K - and with the added associates/bachelors at the Big 3/WGU, you won't even need to hit $35K. Bam - 3 birds with one stone...
Done: TESU ASNSM Biology, ASBA/BSBA (ACBSP Accredited in 2017)
Working on: TESU BA Biology & Computer Science
Deferred: **Deciding on several Masters/PHD programs**

2018 BALS and BSBA Spreadsheet using mainly SL/Study.com (post#28,31)
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[-] The following 1 user Likes bjcheung77's post:
  • alexf.1990
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#4
He actually asked me to look into Harvard HES for him after we heard about it on a NYC subway.

I am trying to provide my son with as much information as possible and then let him make up his own mind.  He actually asked me to look into Harvard HES for him.  As much as I want to help him be successful and it is hard to do, part of being a parent is learning to let go and your kids paths are not your own. Like a lot of 18 year olds, he doesn't know what he wants to do for sure. Struggling is part of growing up.

At this point, we are trying explore all avenues out there including the regular 4 year B+M school route, Community College then State Colleges, or even a trade school.  Due to the lack of the internet in the early 90's when I graduated high school or websites like this, I did not have the same information to make a good decision.  I appreciate your viewpoint about a potential path for him.

EducationSeeker

(07-09-2019, 03:21 AM)Stoic Wrote: Using the “not able to get into Harvard the regular route, but getting in this way” angle is probably incorrect. Basically, even though the Extension is part of Harvard. Being admitted into the program doesn’t make you the equivalent (from an academic and social perspective) to the students that were admitted via the College the traditional way. So once he gets into the ALB program he’ll have an asterisk next to his potential degree forever.  His participation will be isolated with other HES students into the way HES conducts their program, unless he gets special student status to attend classes with the traditional Harvard college students which comes at a more expensive tuition rate. But that's OK because HES students are special and are proud of their ALB and ALM degrees. It's a major sign of achievement because it's hard and meaningful, but an ALB is not the same thing as a traditional AB which is what we think of when we think of Harvard and the elite of society,  youth, future, etc. 

But the upside is that the quality of the courses at HES is great and on par with the rest of Harvard (It's the best online education in the world for its price, from an academic perspective) and he’ll join other learners who are there to challenge themselves, not to seek out false hope in the brand name of the degree. For example, I would enroll into the ALB program, because I like their catalog, schedule, and the way classes are conducted, but not to say that I'm a Harvard grad or Harvard material, because that I'll never be. I missed that boat already, plus I'm older and working, I have to take care of my home,  put food in the table, etc. I'm just an adult who enjoys learning and I know they have the best platform available today for my situation.

I honestly think that HES classes are amazing, the curriculums are carefully crafted, the material is hard, there's a lot of books to read per course, some courses require a lot of papers. All of this stuff stimulates my intellectual curiosity as an adult student who just works all day and comes home and studies, then spends time with his partner.  This leads to one downside, his peers are going to be people in their 30s and up since the Extension school is more for professionals and older people even at the ALB level. Though, there was recently a kid who graduated in his teens so there seems to be an upward trend in enrolling at a younger age. But he might’ve been an outlier.

Another issue is that HES is not just going to take that associates degree at full value. It’s not like TESC or Charter Oak where all your credits are accepted without any problems. There’s a minimum amount of credits that need to be with Harvard professors, a minimum amount of upper level credit needed that fit into your program curriculum, core components requirements, like ethics, math, writing intensive credits, etc. Plus, the credits have to be comparable and fit into the program that he chooses. So if you were planning to bring in 64 to cover the general education requirements, maybe think that probably 25 will be transferring in just so you’re not disappointed. One thing you could start doing now is have your son take expository expo-15, math e-3 and expo-25 in sequence and take it from there. Once those courses are completed, you can apply and see if the financials and time will work out for you. If that fails you can apply those credits towards a big 3 or any state college degree (or even Upenn's LPS program if you want to do an alternative to HES) and then just enroll him into a masters at HES afterwards which might come out cheaper.

Stoic,

Would the 2019-2020 HES price be $1700 per each one of these courses or has it gone up?  If went this route, $1700 is still fairly expensive for a 3 credit hour course (although still very cheap compared to other Ivies) especially if paying out of pocket.  Is the first class EXPO-25?  We would probably pay for this class and see how he does.

Thanks,

EducationSeeker
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#5
It depends on the person, and you are on a forum where we generally talk about adults accelerating their bachelor, so it may be a little bit of an echo chamber... but I feel bjcheung77 advice is sound, you could probably do CC + Big 3 in 2-3 years and do a more "renown" master in 1 year full time for about the same price and time.

When young people start college it's not rare to see them change major, those are a costly move with schools like HES, starting with a low-cost option may enable you to maneuver better.
TESU BACS, Expected 2019, 117/120.
----
UPenn MCIT (Accepted in 2018, see story here).
NAU MCIT (Accepted in 2018, not pursuing)
TESU BSBA, 2018.
TESU ASNSM in Computer Science, 2018.
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#6
It is a great deal of money to spend on a generic 'check the box' Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree - no matter what university it is affiliated with.
Working on... MS-ITM @ WGU (started June 2019)
Thomas Edison State University (TESU) 
- BSBA General Management, December 2018
- ASNSM in Computer Science, December 2018
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#7
A good compromise would be to not take it off the table, just focus Harvard HES on a graduate level instead? I know some in my circle and have seen others attend normal B&M schools and attend Harvard HES for their Masters...something to consider if it's in his heart to go!
TESU for BA in Psych or BS in DS/Analytics + ASNSM in CS
~--------------------~
Working on 5 courses now - 
Statistics.com: Network Analysis
Sophia.org: Intro to Stats, Psych, and Sociology + Envir Science
~86 credits done by end of Sept.
Next up - SOS-110, Study.com for Eng Comp II, then AOS courses
Grad goal - mid/late 2020
Completed - 
28 cr from B&M CC
The Institute: Ethics
CSMlearn 
Study.com: Psy 104, His 108, Edu 104, Edu 103, Pol Sci 102, Comm 120
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[-] The following 1 user Likes CarpeDiem8's post:
  • cookderosa
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#8
My oldest son went directly to a Pac-12 school. He loved the athletics and big school experience. He made the most of if and he is very glad he went to the school he did. My younger son and daughter ended up doing their first two years at community college, then going to separate UCs. They loved the CC experience and were not interested in the same things their older brother was. They are very glad they did it that way.

The point I'm trying to make is that what's important is how the individual feels about their degree and experience. If he really wants to do HES and takes pride in his accomplishment, then the degree should serve him well.
NanoDegree: Intro to Self-Driving Cars (2019)
Coursera: Stanford Machine Learning (2019)
TESU: BA in Comp Sci (2016)
TECEP:Env Ethics (2015); TESU PLA:Software Eng, Computer Arch, C++, Advanced C++, Data Struct (2015); TESU Courses:Capstone, Database Mngmnt Sys, Op Sys, Artificial Intel, Discrete Math, Intro to Portfolio Dev, Intro PLA (2014-16); DSST:Anthro, Pers Fin, Astronomy (2014); CLEP:Intro to Soc (2014); Saylor.org:Intro to Computers (2014); CC: 69 units (1980-88)

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[-] The following 1 user Likes davewill's post:
  • alab21
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#9
(07-09-2019, 11:46 AM)bjcheung77 Wrote: My suggestion is this, do an associates at a community college, bachelors at a local uni or through Big 3/WGU and other competency based degree providers and do the $35K "MASTERS" at the IVY uni (HES).  If he does get the tuition reimbursement, that becomes $25K - and with the added associates/bachelors at the Big 3/WGU, you won't even need to hit $35K.   Bam - 3 birds with one stone...

This is precisely the logic I used when deciding to put off until I went for my masters. Your trajectory is also important. Going from HES for a bachelor's to a local college for your master's is a downward trajectory in most cases. Going from a bachelor's at a local college to a master's at HES is much more impressive.
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  • alab21, Life Long Learning
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#10
(07-09-2019, 12:04 PM)EducationSeeker Wrote: He actually asked me to look into Harvard HES for him after we heard about it on a NYC subway.

I am trying to provide my son with as much information as possible and then let him make up his own mind.  He actually asked me to look into Harvard HES for him.  As much as I want to help him be successful and it is hard to do, part of being a parent is learning to let go and your kids paths are not your own. Like a lot of 18 year olds, he doesn't know what he wants to do for sure. Struggling is part of growing up.

At this point, we are trying explore all avenues out there including the regular 4 year B+M school route, Community College then State Colleges, or even a trade school.  Due to the lack of the internet in the early 90's when I graduated high school or websites like this, I did not have the same information to make a good decision.  I appreciate your viewpoint about a potential path for him.

EducationSeeker

(07-09-2019, 03:21 AM)Stoic Wrote: Using the “not able to get into Harvard the regular route, but getting in this way” angle is probably incorrect. Basically, even though the Extension is part of Harvard. Being admitted into the program doesn’t make you the equivalent (from an academic and social perspective) to the students that were admitted via the College the traditional way. So once he gets into the ALB program he’ll have an asterisk next to his potential degree forever.  His participation will be isolated with other HES students into the way HES conducts their program, unless he gets special student status to attend classes with the traditional Harvard college students which comes at a more expensive tuition rate. But that's OK because HES students are special and are proud of their ALB and ALM degrees. It's a major sign of achievement because it's hard and meaningful, but an ALB is not the same thing as a traditional AB which is what we think of when we think of Harvard and the elite of society,  youth, future, etc. 

But the upside is that the quality of the courses at HES is great and on par with the rest of Harvard (It's the best online education in the world for its price, from an academic perspective) and he’ll join other learners who are there to challenge themselves, not to seek out false hope in the brand name of the degree. For example, I would enroll into the ALB program, because I like their catalog, schedule, and the way classes are conducted, but not to say that I'm a Harvard grad or Harvard material, because that I'll never be. I missed that boat already, plus I'm older and working, I have to take care of my home,  put food in the table, etc. I'm just an adult who enjoys learning and I know they have the best platform available today for my situation.

I honestly think that HES classes are amazing, the curriculums are carefully crafted, the material is hard, there's a lot of books to read per course, some courses require a lot of papers. All of this stuff stimulates my intellectual curiosity as an adult student who just works all day and comes home and studies, then spends time with his partner.  This leads to one downside, his peers are going to be people in their 30s and up since the Extension school is more for professionals and older people even at the ALB level. Though, there was recently a kid who graduated in his teens so there seems to be an upward trend in enrolling at a younger age. But he might’ve been an outlier.

Another issue is that HES is not just going to take that associates degree at full value. It’s not like TESC or Charter Oak where all your credits are accepted without any problems. There’s a minimum amount of credits that need to be with Harvard professors, a minimum amount of upper level credit needed that fit into your program curriculum, core components requirements, like ethics, math, writing intensive credits, etc. Plus, the credits have to be comparable and fit into the program that he chooses. So if you were planning to bring in 64 to cover the general education requirements, maybe think that probably 25 will be transferring in just so you’re not disappointed. One thing you could start doing now is have your son take expository expo-15, math e-3 and expo-25 in sequence and take it from there. Once those courses are completed, you can apply and see if the financials and time will work out for you. If that fails you can apply those credits towards a big 3 or any state college degree (or even Upenn's LPS program if you want to do an alternative to HES) and then just enroll him into a masters at HES afterwards which might come out cheaper.

Stoic,

Would the 2019-2020 HES price be $1700 per each one of these courses or has it gone up?  If went this route, $1700 is still fairly expensive for a 3 credit hour course (although still very cheap compared to other Ivies) especially if paying out of pocket.  Is the first class EXPO-25?  We would probably pay for this class and see how he does.

Thanks,

EducationSeeker

The introductory classes are kept at a lower rate than the rest the degree courses, though still a bit expensive when paying out of pocket. Your son could start with expo-25 or expo-15 just to be safe. But make sure to review all syllabuses at the end of this month when posted and shop for the class your son has more interest in based on the books required, professor rating, etc. Different teachers have different themes for their courses. I suggest to really research each professor because the content being studied will make a difference when completing those writing intensive courses.  Thankfully HES offers you variation and options. Also,  remember that the credits can be transferred into other schools, so your son could take one course and see how he likes it and if he doesn't like it then the credit can be transferred to any other undergraduate program in the world. So you can test the waters and keep going or change route afterwards, either way you're getting value since all the courses are for credit.

(07-09-2019, 12:18 PM)posabsolute Wrote: It depends on the person, and you are on a forum where we generally talk about adults accelerating their bachelor, so it may be a little bit of an echo chamber... but I feel bjcheung77 advice is sound, you could probably do CC + Big 3 in 2-3 years and do a more "renown" master in 1 year full time for about the same price and time.

When young people start college it's not rare to see them change major, those are a costly move with schools like HES, starting with a low-cost option may enable you to maneuver better.

True yeah. There's one issue with the ALB that's a bit of an "unknown" when looking at the program from the outside.

Basically the program requires 52 credits (off the top of my head) with Harvard professors. But depending on the program route you take there might not always be a Harvard professor that's teaching the class you require, or maybe there is one Harvard professor, but the class is full and you end up on a waitlist, so you have to wait until the next semester to take it. Waiting until the next semester will put you back 4 months, or maybe there's a class open but it's at 1:00PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays via video conference and you have to work at that time.  Maybe your only option (due to the time constraints, waitlist issue, etc) is to take the course with a non Harvard (lets say from Boston University) professor which is shown as a last minute alternative, but guess what even if it counts towards the ALB. It doesn't tick off the 52 credit requirement, so it's impact is neutral in your progress. HES employs professors from other universities in the Boston area so the classes are not always taught by Harvard faculty. 

So yeah, you can see how this is the slow lane path for a bachelors degree. It's going to take some time to complete. That's the big dilemma with it. It would be nicer to have a Bachelors and Masters from HES as the perfect scenario as an adult student. But the ALB is going to take 2 1/2-3 years to complete (if the learner is working) with maxed out transfer credits (if there's such thing), and a generic bachelors plus masters from HES will take 1 1/2 to 2 years and the ALM classes are flexible without a lot of the requirements that the ALB carries. In both situations the bachelors get buried into the background.  But the idea of an ALB is romantic in its own way if you are not in a rush to get a degree because it will integrate you into their learning culture and give you a great liberal arts background.  The issue with it is the time commitment and the fact that we are all in a rush to get a degree even if we don't say or think we are. We are moving towards a time where the creation of value is everything and degrees are being phased out as a thing of the past. Though in a way a lot of these master programs (HES included) help learners create value via research and the creation of team based case studies, etc. So the more I look at it, the more I think the best path is to just 'check the box' on the bachelors and go right for a masters that puts me in a situation where I'm creating value. But at the same like I said it's romantic to take your time and read Franz Kafka, and go into deep study of Herman Hesse and Emily Dickinson, etc and indulge yourself into the Liberal Arts through the ALB even if it takes multiple years. There are cons and pros to both approaches.
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