Though I was officially a Harvard student by simply registering online for classes, I was not yet a candidate for the master’s of liberal arts.To gain admission as a degree candidate to HES, the primary requirement is to complete three courses--including an incredibly difficult “gatekeeper” course--and obtain at least a B grade in each of them.Today, three Ivy schools--Columbia, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania--offer undergraduate and graduate degrees that are obtained largely through evening, weekend, or online classes, making them more accessible to nontraditional students.
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The advent of broadband Internet has changed the reach and nature of continuing education.
A recent study by the Sloan Consortium found that nearly a third of all higher-education students had taken at least one class online during the 2011 fall semester alone.
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There is little chance that my slightly-above-average undergraduate GPA and an extra-curricular résumé that only consisted of a part-time job at a music store would’ve secured a spot for me in one of Harvard’s ultra-competitive graduate schools.
Yet, with no admission letter in hand and exactly zero hours spent preparing for graduate admissions tests, I became a Harvard student. The Extension School – Harvard’s degree-granting continuing education school – has a student population of more than 13,000.
About two years ago, my classmates and I gathered in Harvard Yard to receive our graduate degrees alongside more than 7,000 of the university's newest alumni.
As the procession made its way to our designated seating area, an onlooker eyed our banner with a puzzled look and asked the guy in front of me, “What in the world is the Extension School?
In fact, almost all of the Ivy League schools offer courses to “nontraditional students,” which the National Center for Education Statistics considers to be those who are older than typical college graduates, work full-time, or are financially independent and may have family dependents.