Completing a degree at Harvard Extension is no easy feat. It takes immense dedication, sacrifice, and passion for your field.

Our graduates have unique perspectives on what it takes to see a program through to completion. Ahead of 2020 Commencement, we asked them what advice they have for current or prospective students, and here’s what they had to say:


“Work hard to complete the first courses to get accepted. They are difficult courses because Harvard expects you to do Harvard-level work, but once you are a matriculated student, you have access to so many resources that will help you educationally and vocationally. Also, make sure to connect with the community. It’s one of the best parts of HES and you’ll build friendships that will last long after class.” – Josh Drean, ALM Management

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“At Harvard Extension School you will be surrounded by extraordinary people with incredible ideas. Offer to collaborate with them, and enrich your experience with opportunities for more learning and growth. Put in the work, share your brilliance with others, and great things are bound to happen. Always be humble but don’t forget to shine!” – Marilena Dania, ALM Psychology

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“Try not to be rushed, but set a pace where you can get the most out of each course, saving time to perhaps deep dive into additional topics. Take advantage of the open advice and help of the teaching staff. Make the most of the class projects to do things that you want to discover, even if this means more research and slower initial progress—in the end it is worth it.” – Jelena Dowey, ALM Software Engineering

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“Harvard is not a bootcamp, and you are not your own drill sergeant. Undoubtedly, you will push yourself in your studies. However, take each day as a new day. Every day will have its own struggle. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel the emotions that you experience. It is okay to laugh—it is okay to cry!” – Tamarah Rockwood, ALM Creative Writing and Literature

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“Live every day as if it were the last one in your life, be passionate to follow your studies, get involved in social-changing initiatives, and never be afraid of reaching out to the faculty and classmates, as their community is really supportive. The time at Harvard is wonderful and it passes very fast but leaves strong memories, so enjoy it and take full use of the resources of the university.” – Andrew Almazan, ALM Psychology 

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Bradley Ashton Thomas, ALM Sustainability

“Be prepared to take on a challenge that may not be something you are familiar with, that makes you stretch, that provides some risk of failure. Because failure is temporary. And you fail one day, and the next day what you learn from that failure becomes the seeds of success.” – Bradley Ashton Thomas, ALM Sustainability 

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“There is always room for improvement—academically, professionally, and personally. I am in my 50s and striving to grow as much now as when I was in my 20s. I advise new students to entertain candid feedback. Ask for it from professors, teachers’ assistants, and classmates. It’s humbling and it is productive.” – Adeo Alday, ALM Museum Studies

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“For most of us, we’re only going to graduate from Harvard once, so try to squeeze in as much as you can during the week of commencement activities. It is a monumental self achievement, so allow yourself to live in the moment and enjoy the memories for a lifetime.” – Jasmine Robinson, ALM Digital Media Design 

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“Never be afraid to ask for help or guidance, even if it is not directly related to a particular class. The professors at the Harvard Extension genuinely love what they do and care about the students that they teach. I would also say to never give up on yourself. You will face challenges but remember that you would not be attending Harvard if you did not want to be pushed to your fullest potential. Hard work will pay off.” – Chelsea Gelardi, ALM International Relations

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Tazeen Hasan
Tazeen Hasan, ALM Journalism

“Besides core journalism courses, try as many non-journalism courses as possible. I found them very enlightening. They gave me the real Harvard experience. I regret not taking more. Regarding course selection, do your homework in advance.” – Tazeen Hasan, ALM Journalism

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“So much of what you’ll do will be judged on your ability to write a sound academic essay. It’s the basis for your grade in most classes. Summer classes and (accelerated January term) classes are short but intense; they’ll allow you to knock out a significant portion of your schooling quickly.” – John Lantonio, ALB with a concentration in English 

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