Sol G. writes, “Harvard at 375”

I hope you were at the parade! The party! The event!


Wow. Well, we’re all shaking the confetti from our hair still, and I have to admit, I’m still cleaning it out of my shoes. The downpour was drenching, the Yard was packed, and the Extension School was well represented! I’m so proud of the people who marched and the people who shouted and the people… well, all of us here at the Extension School. It was a beautiful night. I bailed before the afterparty, but I hear a good time was had by all.


So now that that’s over, what’s next?


Well, I don’t know whether it means I’ll need to start at a different blog or not- I’m hoping to continue here- but I’ve been elected Director of Student Affairs in HESA. I hope to use that to help create a distinct and unified school spirit for us, and a strong sense of student identity. I have to, because I’m so proud of everything being done here. I’m excited about it. More on that as it develops, but I also hope to inspire you to get involved and engaged, to make the most of your student experience by speaking to one another.

Also, you might want to get involved in this project, telling your story for Harvard Stories.  You can contact them directly here. It’s a chance to add your voice to Harvard history, since you really are a part of it. 


Sol G. Writes, We’re Harvard. Let’s Vote Like It!

Harvard University
Maxwell Dworkin, Room G115

33 Oxford Street

 6:30 PM.

Be there. Bring your ID.

We are having elections. Yes, “us”. You and I. I’m going to mention that I am running for a post: in the interests of full disclosure, yes. I am. But I’m not going to talk about that part here, because that wouldn’t be fair. Also, I plan to volunteer if I don’t win, because it is more important that we get involved… similarly, it’s more important THAT you vote, than HOW you vote.

And that’s what I’m asking you to do, as a fellow student served by the same student government.

There are a lot of extremely motivated, personable, capable people running for posts. I was privileged with the opportunity to meet most of them at campaigning meeting; I’m always thrown by how real enthusiasm shows through. These are people who want to help, who want to get out there and make changes for us, the students, because they ARE students.

So Extension School students: You are part of Harvard. We have a student goverment to represent us. Friday night, come out and vote. Bring your ID to the meeting, get a ballot, hear the speeches, and vote. It matters, because you matter. By having a strong student government, we have the ability to see our issues voiced and acted upon. We have people to speak to, who can speak for us.

I’ll see you there. I don’t care who you vote for (and as soon as possible, will link to the information for EVERY candidate, so that you can see them all!) I’ll see you Friday. Yes, there will be an option for distance students. Again, please use it!

As for me, I’m going to use the opportunity of running for candidacy to campaign relentlessly for you to vote for someone, anyone, because what I really want is to see people there. All of you. Show us all just how much Harvard is OUR school, too! Gather your classmates, get out the vote, come over on the 6th and speak with the ballot. The goal is to have more students voting than ever, and to be a voice for our own representation.

Make me proud!!

Sol G. Writes, Meet HESA! Also, the Writing Center.


Who is HESA?


HESA is our student organization. That’s right, yours and mine. You may not have realized, when you signed up, that we even had one. You may think of the Extension School as just a loose group of students, all over the world… we meet in classes, but we’re not really part of…


Stop right there.


You’re Harvard.


You may not feel like it, but you signed up. Whether you’re just taking a class to better understand a language, or signed up in an undergraduate program like I am, you’re Harvard. Harvard is made up of multiple organizations, branches, and schools. We are one of them. Its founders really did believe in education, and in greatness, and we are a vital part of Harvard’s lifeblood, because not only are we attending, we’re out in the world already, too, showing that world what we can do. You are not an afterthought, and you are not just out on the educational fringe. You, yes, you- you’re Harvard.


And nobody understands that better than our student organization. They have a website. They organize events so that we can meet each other. They are students, like us; they are earnest about making our lives as students more interesting in good ways. They also welcome ideas, so (since this is your school!) please speak up and contact them if there’s an aspect of student life that you feel needs exploring.

Now, I know I say this every year. i’m a broken record when it comes to this, forgive me. I can’t help it. But if you haven’t started making your writing center appointments, do it now, because assignments are coming due already and they really can help you. The more help you get now, the more your writing improves, and this means that by the end of the term, your term papers will be kicking staples and taking names. (Why, yes! Here’s that link!)

There’s one other Harvard resource that I’d like to recommend. That’s “time.”


There are a lot of people willing to offer theirs. Students, teachers, chaplains, advisors. This campus and this community are full of people who would love to talk to you about issues you have with class, adjusting to student life, pretty much anything that you need. Even here, on the blog, we welcome your comments. They matter. YOU matter. So don’t be shy- there’s pretty much help out there for any random emergency or event that you need help on, whether it’s math tutoring in the math center for your Algebra homework, or a listening ear at the chaplaincy. (Yes, atheists, there is a Humanist chaplain, and he’s wonderful.)

On a personal note- AUTUMN! It’s cold! It’s perfect! Those of you lucky enough to be here in Boston, I hope you’re ready to enjoy the change of seasons. I love the way the leaves smell as they turn. I’m having a wonderful time in class, and have met an astonishing number of fabulously creative people on the online bulletin boards. We have students from all over the world; I’m constantly amazed by the variety in our classes.

For me, autumn means more walking, because I love to look at the foliage. It means less light, and I fill my apartment with lamps to make up the difference. It means the kitten huddles up to me when sleeping, and it means that reading outside is one of my favourite things. For some reason, reading outside in the fall is just more fun for me. Maybe it’s just my body trying to soak up all the last fun it can before winter comes, I don’t know.

Got any favourite fall activities? A lot of folks are new to Boston, so let’s hear some ideas for things to explore!

Brandon writes – Improvisational Acting speaks to the mind AND the Body

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Improvisational Acting (DRAM E-21), brought to you by ninja master Thomas Derrah, is one-of-those-courses from which everyone in the whole world can benefit. No doubt someone will say, “Will improvisational acting really help me get a job?” and my improvised gut-reaction is “YES, improvisational acting will help you get a job AND, more importantly, improvisational acting will help you get a LIFE!” ;D

Enroll first day of early registration because this course is limited enrollment and fills up fast. Note: When you enroll in a degree program you are given the advantage of early registration.

Thank you to Harvard Extension Alumnus, Ricardo, for telling me about this course! AND Thank you to Tommy, Tyler, Alex, Allysa, Beliz, Jack, Julia, Kurt, Lauren, Lindsey, Lucy, Luke, Max, Mook, Nastasia, Pavlo, Sami, Sarah, Shiraz, and Stanley, the motley crew of  international classmates that made this Harvard summer truly EPIC! …AND may this blog post count as my official request to have more classes of this ilk in the future of Harvard.

Sol G. Writes: It’s time! Let’s get started!

I’m so excited. We’re back! It’s the end of August, we’re all scrambling to get into classes and trying to remember how we ever had time last spring. I’m signed up for the psychology of creativity class highlighted this semester on the main page. (My computer’s acting up as I try to place links, so here’s the URL:


I’ve taken a class by Ms. Carson before. I have one very wonderful thing to say about her approach, which I feel has been characteristic of my Harvard experience studying psychology. The teachers here have a very humanistic approach. Even in the Intro to Psychology (and if you get the chance to study under Dodge Fernald, take it, because his stories about Skinner are not to be missed) there was a strong, beautiful sense that people do what they do for reasons. In Abnormal psychology, we studied at length the things that can go wrong.


One thing which we were taught, and it’s a difficult thing to teach people, is that we had to look at why people did things; to embrace that everyone does things for a reason. Our job is to find out those reasons, and help people find other, healthier ways to get by. That was a beautiful lesson in the dignity of being human, and one that I feel is pervasive in the teaching here. It was certainly the undertone of the entire class, and the other psychology courses I’ve taken here at the Extension School. It’s about compassion, and respect, and so I’m really looking forward to this semester’s class.


When you take a class online, there’s a few resources to be aware of. One which I found incredibly educational was the discussion board, where we were able to talk about the course, our perspectives, and how it all related to our lives. I learned as much from other students as I did from the course; we had a wonderful mix of people. So when you sign up for these courses, use all the resources available. They radically inprove the class experience, and I’d love to hear your voice on the boards if you’re in class with me this semester!


Prepping for classes- you know I have to touch on this. I always come round to this. It’s a hot button for me, I’m disorganised by nature, so I work very hard to get myself prepared for classes. It’s worth it, and a little time now can save a lot of time later. For example, you have a spot in your home just for classwork, right? So you have everything in one place? Oh, it’s been summer, so it’s full of things you put there, meaning to move them later. Go move them now. I’ll wait. (Mine had been filled with sewing materials, so I know how it is…) 

Now. You have a place for classwork, where your projects can go undisturbed and you won’t accidentally leave your textbook under the bed or in the living room. Do you have folders, so there’s a place for your finished work?

I recommend this every year, and I see no reason to stop. Those multipocket folders are one of the best things for class. Put the syllabus in one, and other class materials. All in one pocket. Get a magic marker, and write on it, “class materials” The next pocket is “homework requirements,” and that’s where you’ll put the assignments: papers, essay subjects, the math homework if it’s a math class.


The last pocket is “finished homework.” There’s nothing worse than losing something and having to try to print it again at the last minute before class! I’ve done it. It’s a pain. However, one way to save yourself trouble in advance, in case you ever have to try this, is to email yourself the document every time.  IF you somehow have lost it,  eaten it, zombies took it on the way up from the Red line, you can go to the computer center, open the document in your email, and print it out right on the spot. It only works if you remember to send yourself the work, so do it every time and you’ll have it where you can find it easily in a hurry.

Another thing to do in preparation, which I always do in advance: make time. Clear blocks on your calendar just for homework. I do mine on google calendar. My friends have access and can see the blocks of homework time; we plan around them. It makes it easier if everyone knows I’m busy that night in advance.


I’m so glad to be back to school. I really am; I missed it over the summer. I can’t wait to see you in the halls.

Rachel writes: ALM humanities thesis writers, planners, procrastinators–take note!

Are you an ALM candidate in the humanities who is thinking about thesis topics? Have you begun your research, or are you almost ready to submit your thesis proposal?

Consider attending the monthly proposal-and-thesis-writers discussion group!

If you have completed fewer than 6 courses, there are 2 “orientation” meetings this academic year you can attend–today, Wed Aug 17, and then Mon Jan 30 in the spring semester. I’ve been to one (last year) and found that it sort of put my thesis schedule on my mental map, so to speak, and seemed to forge a realistic dimension to the notion of actually planning and writing the thesis! (Am I mashing metaphors?)

If you’ve finished at least 6 of your courses, please join any of the meetings (schedule copied below).

All meetings will take place from 5:30–7:00 PM at 51 Brattle Street in Cambridge, in the Grossman Common Room. No need to RSVP. Dean Sue Schopf leads the discussion for this humanities group. Please see <; for notices of meetings for other academic areas or to find contact information for your research advisor.

Here’s the humanities group schedule:

August 17, Wednesday (fall orientation meeting, Grossman Common Room)
September 27, Tuesday
October 25, Tuesday
November 21, Monday
December 19, Monday
January 30, Monday (spring orientation meeting)
February 23, Thursday
March 29, Thursday
April 26, Thursday
June 19, Tuesday

I heard a rumor that there could be coffee and cookies available, so you can potentially drown some of your anxieties in a civilized manner.

Hope to see some of you there!

Rachel writes: summer greetings!

August: A follow-up ALM thesis-topic meeting with Dean Sue Schopf the other day yielded a more-or less solid plan–I’ll flesh out my proposal for submission by about Sept 1.

My current idea is not at all what I started out researching at the end of May, though you could say there is a connection. The new topic took a bit of convincing to persuade Dean Schopf that my idea had heft, but by the end of our very lively and interesting chat, it appeared that I was given the green light.

So I’ll continue my research and proposal writing for the next few weeks. I’m hoping to complete my thesis by April 1 2012 and anticipate graduating in May, if all goes according to schedule. Naturally there’s much to do between then and now. But planning backwards sometimes not only facilitates realistic scheduling, it also helps to frame an endlessly daunting project as finite.

Though I won’t be enrolled in any courses over the next year, I hope to attend some of the thesis-writers meetings–ALM proposal & thesis writers discussion groups are held monthly at 51 Brattle Street & are hosted by the research advisors. The coming year’s schedule should be available online soon. I will post it here as soon as I can, but you can also watch for updates here: <;

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Rachel writes: Coursework complete for ALM degree!

Hard to believe as of May 10 I have finished all of my coursework toward my ALM in Visual Arts!

Now the thesis proposal writing and research process begins in earnest, over the summer.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday May 17, there will be a Thesis Presentation Forum with graduating Extension School students presenting their completed theses in the areas of humanities and social sciences. On Wednesday May 18 is a similar presentation in the behavioral and biological sciences. The presentations take place in the Cinema Room at the Student Organization Center of the former Hilles Library on Garden Street in Cambridge.

Good chance to get a lively sense of the scope and breadth of individual thesis projects before beginning mine.

Hope to see some of you there!

Brandon writes: Vote for your favorite teacher!

CONGRATULATIONS to Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA)
President Philip Harding for his successful reelection! And Philip is already back to work bringing us The Student Choice Awards, a beautiful opportunity to give thanks to your favorite Harvard Extension School faculty member.

Here are the details and from HESA website:

The Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) has developed the HESA Student Choice Awards, an awards program that recognizes the extraordinary — and often unsung — efforts of Harvard Extension School faculty, teaching assistants/fellows, and advisors. To nominate an individual for a HESA Student Choice Award, please complete the official nomination form.

Please note:
• All nominating materials must be received by 5/23, 11:59pm EST.
• All materials must be submitted electronically (using the online form here). The awards committee is unable to consider hard-copy submissions.
• An independent awards committee comprised of students from various degree programs will administer the nomination process to ensure due process. All nominations will be kept strictly confidential.
• Awards to be announced at the end of the year HESA event at the Harvard Faculty Club on May 27.

Questions? Email:

Brandon writes: Relax and Feel Good this summer!

Click the image above or this link to watch my Relax and Feel Good video.

If you are looking for a class to take this summer, consider taking CSCI S-24 Video Editing and Digital Design with instructor Allyson Sherlock. The class rocks! More specifically, Allyson rocks! In one semester you will learn how to edit digital video, color correct footage, sound edit, prepare a custom DVD menu and design your own motion graphic logo. The class is perfect for those who love creative freedom because the final video project is yours to direct using any footage you choose, provided it is approved by Allyson; and having seen all the final videos, I can tell you she approved everything from my wacky work to a stunningly professional documentary featuring a student’s unique love for coal miners and Yuengling beer.

Beyond the fun of video editing, instructor Allyson Sherlock provides the most thorough and timely project feedback of any professor I have had the pleasure of knowing in my three years at Harvard Extension. You will know exactly how you are doing in the class every step of the way, and you will have all the extra help and guidance you need, resulting in a Relax and Feel Good summer!

Enjoy! 😀