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getting a master @ harvard extension- BOSTON

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by SimpleMe, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. SimpleMe

    SimpleMe New Member
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    Hello student doctor network,

    Thanks for reading my thread!

    My undergrad GPA is pretty low, 3.07/4.0, and my CV is pretty weak, haven't done much medical related events. But currently I am working at a Harvard affliated infectious disease lab, there are chances to get published twice at the end of this year.

    Just wondering if it is beneficial to get a Master in Liberal Art in Biotechnology at Harvard Extension School, and disgard taking a lot of undergad science classes (boost up my undergrad GPA) to gain medical school admission.

    What is your thought?
     
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  3. johnnydrama

    johnnydrama I'm no Superman
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    I would say take the courses for undergrad credits to boost your GPA. Harvard Extension school is fairly crummy, and people are starting to catch on to it (lookup the NYTimes article awhile back about it). A degree from the Extension school won't matter for anything except impressing someone who doesn't know any better with the Harvard name. I've taken two courses there so far (and since they are so cheap, I may take another), but they were pretty useless. Of the two classes, one professor barely knew what he was talking about, and the other rarely showed up. Unless you are getting tuition reimbursement from your job, find a better place to spend your money.
     
  4. Xypathos

    Xypathos Member
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    That's why I always suggest you take an extension course labeled as "HI" --- I've taken two my self and absolutely loved them. In fact, I've loved them so much I'm thinking about dropping out of Cornell College in Iowa to get my degree from the extension school. I love Boston and Cambridge and the professors and assistants I've met at Harvard and the extension school were abolsutely wonderful to work with, just a shame I don't have the stats to get into Harvard College.
     
  5. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    your best chances are by far, with more established postbac programs such as special masters program by schools like georgetown, university of cincinnati, drexel, bumams, to name a few. that will directly address your lapse in GPA with real med school courses all while earning a masters in physiology or something to its equivalent.
     
  6. Schaden Freud

    Schaden Freud MiSanthrope II
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    I don't think it'll be of much benefit. As another poster said, Harvard Extension School is beginning to get a bad reputation (for good reason), and getting a Master's in biotechnology won't go far in illustrating your interest in medicine. You should improve your grades a bit, so take classes outside of a structured program at the Extension School or try to get into an official post-bacc program.

     
  7. XildUpNawth

    XildUpNawth Member
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    I've read the NYT article about Harvard Extension, and it didn't lead me to believe that HES is getting a "bad reputation." I did my post-bacc there and it was rigorous and well-managed, and has produced many successful med school applicants. There are bad students and bad professors at every school. Please refrain from bashing. Your comments are poorly researched and smack of insecurity.
     
  8. akaz

    akaz Senior Member
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    I am not sure, but found out 2 of my classmates at Cornell med did the post-bac at Harvard Ext., and I know another at Harvard med and U Mass. I think if you can prove yourself, it is worth a shot. However, I am pretty sure it is wiser to have it part of your Undergrad gpa--take undergrad courses. No matter what the NY Times says, they are getting in. I know nothing about the program though.
     
  9. spo01

    spo01 Member
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    To the OP, I would definately take undergrad courses in a post bac pre med program to raise the gpa (c'mon, you know you have to raise a 3.07). As for going to Harvard Extension, that is fine to take the courses there. They have a Health Careers Program that will suit you well, and it's very cheap.

    About 'losing credibility' as others have mentioned, people who have zero chance of getting into the actual university and have a horrible gpa can get in (it's open enrollment). You are NOT a Harvard student by going there, yet, people who go there just want to brag they go to "Harvard" by going to the damn extension school. Afterall, who the hell knows the difference b/w Harvard Extension and Harvard University? I think this is what they mean about losing credibility. Just go there for the right reasons if you go.
     
  10. XildUpNawth

    XildUpNawth Member
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    I think some Harvard College people are just ticked that they might be confused with the non-elites that have access to HES. I mean, Harvard has always been the province of the wealthy and/or brilliant, and it's tough to swallow it when people who are "inferior" to you might be mistaken for a "real" Harvard student. There are actual requirements to be eligible for a degree program at HES--degree programs are not open enrollment. HES degree-seeking students tend to be older and/or poorer than Harvard College students, and thus Harvard College students/graduates resent their very presence on campus.

    It's all about elitism, and the people who bash HES tend to have an interest in preserving the purity of the Harvard image, lest it be polluted by the lower classes. HES transcripts say in plain English that they're from the "Division of Continuing Education," the diplomas look different and are awarded from Harvard University, not Harvard College, and because most HES students are older, I doubt if they are often mistaken for Harvard College graduates. If they are, it's probably happening most often in podunk towns that real Harvard College graduates will never set foot in anyway, so lighten up.
     
  11. isobel

    isobel Senior Member
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    i had a low GPA from ugrad (3.22) and i took a bunch of courses at HES to bring up the GPA and finish off my premed reqs.

    it was fine.

    the professors were good. the classes were as rigorous as they were at my ivy league undergrad. and at none of my 5 interviews did anyone question me about HES or give me crap about it. i did not do the structured HCP (just took what i needed), but i believe that if you take it and do well, you have a decent shot. although your GPA is kind of at the low end of what they want and they would require you to take a lot of courses for that program.

    also, if you do get published, that is super helpful. i think that helped me a lot.
     
  12. LyraBelacqua

    LyraBelacqua Junior Member
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    I went to Harvard College as a hard-science major, and two years after I graduated went back and took a few remaining medschool pre-reqs at the extension school, and also worked as a teaching assistant for an extension school class. My experiences with Extension left me pretty uneasy.

    Most undergrads at the college are fairly unaware that the extension school exists. I knew one college age extension school degree-track student well when I was an undergrad, and he hung out with undergrads a fair amount. I never saw him lie about his status, but he didn't volunteer more information than "Harvard" when people asked him where he went to school. Maybe he didn't need to, but when people pieced it together they were upset because they felt a little tricked, not because they thought he was diminishing the prestige of their degrees. The issue wasn't that they didn't want to hang out with an outsider - it was that the guy wasn't honest.

    That said, I think the onus lies squarely on the Extension school itself, and most Harvard College students I've talked to feel the same way. Reading their advertising, I get the feeling that Extension uses the prestige of the College to make a quick buck from Extension students. I found, with some exceptions, that the rigor and quality of instruction didn't match up with the college. (I got interested in this, and compared syllabi and class notes of the classes I took with their college equivalents.) Going in, I expected it to, and while I was there, I think some students were under the mistaken impression that it did. I guess I just felt like the product wasn't what it was advertised to be. Again, the issue is honesty. I know the names are different on the diplomas, but who knows what diplomas look like? And doesn't it sound even BETTER if your education keeps "Continuing" even after you've graduated? That sounds awesome! I don't care if some guy that didn't go to Harvard makes people think he did, but it offends me that Extension seems like they're trying to make money off the confusion. There's also basically no institutional effort (that I saw) to integrate Extension students into the Harvard community socially. This is the fault of both schools, not their students, and it sucks.

    That said, I wasn't dissatisfied with the product. The classes were better than community college classes I've taken, they're open enrollment, and they are on the cheap. I'd take one again if I needed to.

    The issues about social class in this are really interesting. I think it's awesome that anyone can come along and "take classes at Harvard" (even if it's not clear exactly what that means). But the reason for that seems to be profit, not any kind of democratization of education. Posing the puzzlement of H.C. students as a class issue also demonstrates a pretty big misunderstanding of what the H.C. class is like. While there is a fetid frothy film of the super-rich floating at the top of the social keg, it turns out Harvard's got a pretty diverse student group. While I spent my evenings sipping scotch in an exclusive club, making fun of poor people and beating up hobos, I was part of a very small minority. Just kidding, about the hobos.

    There is a division of Harvard that students do feel like is watering down their diplomas, but it's not Extension, it's the Kennedy School of Govt, which despite their fantastic schedule of speakers is the easiest place in the world to get an A. If you have GPA problems, I'd heartily recommend skipping Extension and enrolling at the K-school, where you get what you pay for. Namely, A's. College students would have burned down the building long ago if they didn't need the cross registration to keep their grades up.

    Finally, to end a long, rambling email, I'd like to ask one question. If you want a transcript from Harvard College, it will cost you $3. If you want one from Extension, it's free. What's up with that? Perhaps the degree from Harvard College is worth more, by an amount of ... $3.00?

    - LBQ
     
  13. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    This is an interesting discussion, because it seems Harvard, a great liberal arts institution, would be keenly interested in educating all groups of people. Instead it seems like they are just whoring their name out on a less than "Harvard" product just to make some easy cash.
     
  14. akaz

    akaz Senior Member
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    Now I went to U of Mich undergrad and Harvard for grad school. I will say this. I thought U of Mich had a really nasty grading scale. I thought the courses in Molec Cell Bio and Chem were graded easily at Harvard GSAS. I will say this though--my classmates at Harvard were super awesome and smart. Grading at Harvard is watered down. I took some courses at MIT and the grading scale was tougher. However, did we benefit from the tougher grading scale at U of Mich--no. I say enjoy the neat students and take watered down. The intellectual environment is where the benefits are--not the grading scale. Harvard's diploma is not being watered down. Harvard's community makes Harvard's learning experience. I would never consider the diploma devalued.
     
  15. Sundarban1

    Sundarban1 Devil in disguise
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    Let's remind everyone in SDN land, where everything is a conspiracy, that the extention school has been around since 1909 and while it has gained in popularity over the years, it does not need to "*****" anyone seeing as though the college has the largest endowment of any school.

    The people taking classes there are generally older, like myself, who are searching for a good education (Harvard or otherwise). The Heath Careers Program at the extentions school is one of the most regarded (not my words, but the words of several medical school admissions directors who spoke to us last year in an open forum) and affordable pre-medical/post-bacc programs around, which is why I relocated.

    Carry on.
     
  16. XildUpNawth

    XildUpNawth Member
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    The Extension School has been around for a long time, and its purported mission "back in the day" was to offer classes to the masses. I think it does that admirably. Of course, the only classes I've ever taken were the pre-med classes, and I have heard stories about poor instructors in other disciplines, but never seen any evidence of bad teaching in the sciences, and I majored in bio at an honors college renowned for its teaching as an undergrad.

    HES may indeed be making money off its students, but it's slightly insulting to insinuate that the students are being taken advantage of, as though they couldn't see that for themselves if it were true. I don't get the feeling that most HES students are degree-seeking, rather they want to do something meaningful with their evenings and meet new people. Harvard has built an industry out of making money from prestige. That's why high school students throw themselves at the college every year. Same song, different verse.

    As for the HC undergrad student body, it has long been ethnically/racially diverse, but not economically so. That is why the university recently announced that it would cease requiring a family contribution to the cost of educating undergrads whose families make less than $45K per year. Economic diversity is a big problem at all elite colleges, not just Harvard, and they're all just starting to reckon with it. Harvard is probably doing a better job than any other school at this point.

    I don't doubt the anecdote about the dishonest HES student, but we're talking one anecote here. And I'm pretty sure that most professionals in the field of higher education know exactly what a "Division of Continuing Education" is.

    Bottom line, the HCP is well run. We all take the same MCAT in the end, and the classes can't suck so badly that everybody bombs it. There are probably dicey classes in the HES, but they're not the ones I've taken.

    I too have wondered why the HES transcripts are free, but I have to pay for transcripts from both my undergrad and graduate school. Weird.
     
  17. XildUpNawth

    XildUpNawth Member
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    Harvard needs a lot of things, but "easy cash" ain't one of them. The endowment is ridiculous.
     
  18. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    My post was based soley on what I read from the poster above me. I don't actually know a lot about Harvard or HES. So I will take my comments away, because I don't really know what I am talking about lol.
     
  19. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member
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    Some of the posters on this thread have no idea what they are talking about.

    The HES website makes very clear their affiliation with the "real Harvard"; noone with at least a modicum of intelligence is being duped. And, no, HES does not make any claim that their courses are equivalent to similarly named courses at the regular undergraduate college.

    A lot of universities have similar continuing education divisions. Unlike these other programs, the HES courses are much cheaper than the standard private college credit hour rate. And HES does clearly state the names, qualifications, and affiliations of their course instructors, whereas most other continuing ed courses are taught by the ubiquitous Staff.

    The Health Careers Program at HES has an excellent track record in securing acceptances for their sponsored candidates, and is well regarded by most medical school admissions directors. Their opinion is not going to be changed by one article in NYT.

    I doubt you will find anyone at Harvard who really cares much at all about what happens at HES. And, yes, maybe you will find some HES students who answer, when asked, that they go to "Harvard". But, why do you care? Your job is to complete your prereqs, do well, and get into med school.

    Instead of listening to the drivel posted earlier, please attend the information session that HES HCP has in September. If you're really ambitious, call around to a couple of med school admissions office, and ask their opinion of HES. And, no, I am in no way affiliated with HES.
     
  20. 1Path

    1Path Membership Revoked
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    My question is why is it so problematic for so many of you that a person attending HES would say they attend Harvard? The classes ARE at Harvard, right? Are your egos so weak/low that you have to make others feel inferior? :confused:

    Really,how many people on the planet go into long explinations about where they go to school? When people asked me where I did my graduate work, "I say Chapel Hill", NOT The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Biological Sciences Division of the Chemistry department. Unless of course they ask me to be specific! :p

    My understanding is that HES was set up in small part to allow students who couldn't afford Harvard get a solid education. Too bad elitism has messed up that alturistic goal. :rolleyes:
     
  21. MSTP?

    MSTP? Senior Member
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  22. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    I'm sorry, I'm still floored by the notion that you can get an MA through an extension program. I'd be very leery of this.
     
  23. Schaden Freud

    Schaden Freud MiSanthrope II
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    As someone who has taken classes at the Extension School, I hope they print that degree on toilet paper because it'll only be good for one thing... :laugh:

     
  24. XildUpNawth

    XildUpNawth Member
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    An MA doesn't tend to be a very lucrative degree no matter where you get it. Since public school teachers in Massachusetts are required to earn a master's in their field after a couple years teaching, perhaps that's where some of the demand for the HES master's comes from.

    The degree is actually an AM I think.
     

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