Rachel writes: 5th of 5 ALM thesis chapters submitted!

This week I put my final ALM thesis chapter in the mail to my thesis director! After I’ve received his comments and incorporated his suggestions, I will finish up formatting, make two copies and send one complete copy to him for grading and one to the ALM office for format review.

Formatting, per the ALM handbook guidelines, is a bit daunting. I’m trying to keep in mind the notion that it’s a finite task–while the rules are detailed and slightly mind-boggling, the instructions are plainly laid out in black & white in the trusty 7th edition of the Harvard ALM guide. Don’t confuse this publication with the MLA guide, also now in its 7th edition. Word has it that on some details, the ALM guide trumps the MLA.

I’ve missed the April 2 deadline for graduation in May but will enjoy the leisure needed to properly format and finish up without a stressful urgent deadline. The ALM office is busy now with the theses of those graduating next month, but I will send in my copy for format review before the end of the semester and get in the queue. I’ll then graduate in November, after having my corrected thesis printed on the requisite paper and bound.

I have about 40 library books which I need to return; I will need to make several trips to Widener and/or the Fine Arts Library. Fortunately, there is no rush, with books not due until Sept 10: I was granted the extended borrowing period, which as a graduate student is a privilege you can request from the Library Privileges office on the ground floor at Widener. Ask for it if you think you need it. That was a huge help for me and reduced the number of trips I had to make to the library.

My thesis turned out to be much longer than I imagined it would be: 247 pages including front matter, appendices and bibliography, and hence took longer to complete than I first supposed. I work full-time, and I’m extremely busy at my job, so finding the time to write has been a persistent challenge. For months I have daydreamed not only about spending a weekend simply relaxing but about tidying up a cluttered house: the quotidian stuff which has been neglected for months on end as I toiled away in my rarefied  thesis microcosm is calling to me.

I look forward to being a Harvard alum and want to investigate ways to stay involved in the Harvard community. Meanwhile, though, still a last bit of work to do to finish up!


  1. Posted May 3, 2012 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    It might be difficult to work on the thesis while working full time. When I first visited Harvard I was so impressed by students and fell in love with the campus. I always wanted study in Extension and decided to realize my dreams by taking a class in Extension. However, the semester is almost over, there is one final exam ahead and I will be done. I mean I may not take a class again because my professor made it clear that Harvard Extension was a tough school which was designed for professionals and working adults who really want to learn something.I am young, no bachelor’s earned and have no college experience. I am still undecided.

    • Rachel Y., ALM candidate, Visual Arts
      Posted May 4, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      It can be difficult, yes, to attend classes and write a thesis while working full time. But it would be more difficult not to do it! Time passes even if we do nothing at all. A few years ago, I started the ALM program which I’ve just completed. Without the degree, without the experience, I’d simply be a few years older.

      Finding time and energy to pursue academic work while working at a full-time job is hard, but it is also very satisfying and fun!

      Your professor is right in that Harvard Extension is a great place for adults of any age who are eager to learn something. Such comments can make it all seem daunting; however, I understand that lots of young adults earn their first bachelor’s degree through Harvard Extension these days. I hope you’ll consider continuing. I suggest taking another course in the summer or fall to expand your experience a bit.

      You can also make an appointment with the undergraduate admissions advisor to discuss concerns. http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/undergraduate-degrees/overview

      You’ll also be interested to know that there is an Information Session for prospective students coming up on June 13, 6:00–8:00PM, at Memorial Hall; sign up for it here: http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/information-sessions/sign-info-session

      I wish you the very best of luck and hope you’ll consider sticking with Harvard Extension!

  2. Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for your precious advice! I will definitely do.

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