Why did you decide to earn a degree at Harvard Extension?
Neither of my parents graduated from high school or attended college. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized the importance of a college education. That realization came when pursuing a few job opportunities out of reach because I didn’t have a four-year degree. I periodically enrolled in evening classes and often considered going back to school at least part-time at local universities. I also evaluated degree completion programs offered online and through satellite campuses. When my wife and I had twins in 1998, completing my college education was put on hold.
Fast-forward to 2014, after surviving a life-threatening medical emergency, I wondered if I would see the twins graduate from high school. A couple of years later, when I helped move my son into his college dorm at Harvard College, I stumbled upon the Harvard Extension School Joint Undergraduate and Graduate Program. Here was a chance to finish my four-year college degree simultaneously with the twins and obtain a world-class education through Harvard University Extension School in the process. Although it took me about 10 years to complete an Associate in Science degree at a junior college, it took only four years to complete the ALB, ALM, and two graduate certificates through Harvard Extension. Best of all, the twins and I all graduated with our undergraduate degrees in 2020!
What was your online learning experience like? How did you ensure success as a distance student?
My online learning experience required discipline (and a stable internet connection). Members of my JBMP cohort provided emotional support, as did counselors at Extension School and the professors and teaching staff.
What types of student resources and special options did you take advantage of as a student at Harvard? How did they help?
As a student, I had access to writing, math, and career and academic resources. The one I utilized more than any other was HOLLIS, Harvard Library’s catalog, which provides access to a nearly infinite amount of information. While studying at Harvard, I took advantage of the Widener Library and the restaurants and seating/study areas in the Smith Campus Center and the Science Center.
Do you have a favorite class or faculty member? Why?
I enjoyed every class and every professor, but one of my favorite classes was one of my last classes, Real Estate Enterprise Management, taught by Professor Teo Nicolais. Professor Nicolais is one of the most positive and upbeat professors, and I was lucky to be a member of Team #8 (you know who you are); what a spectacular way to finish.
Describe your Extension School experience in one word.
This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.