My 1st-ish Semester at Harvard Extension

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Oof. As I mentioned yesterday, I dropped my classes at Harvard Extension.

Basically, I signed up for two classes because my job was about to end at the end of September. Since it was ending so close (or close enough) to the new year, I figured I wouldn’t be working again until 2014.

(Not a ton of hiring goes on in November/December, so all I could do was keep fingers crossed for a quick hire in October).

I thought I’d have all this time on my hands. So, I signed up for two classes, thinking it would be cake.

But then I got another job. Of course, this is actually a wonderful thing. Who doesn’t want to work. But the thing is, my new job and old job overlapped for two weeks. One was days; one was nights. Between commuting and 9 or 10-hour days at each place, I basically had time to stop at home and shower before job #1. Then I slept on busses and at lunch (at both places). It was pretty brutal.

I felt I had to do it, because I basically never turn down work unless I just cannot find a way to make it work. I tried catching up on sleep/homework on the weekends. (Plus at one of the jobs, I worked on Saturdays.) I was holding on! Barely, but still… I was holding on.

Then I had a week of trying to play catch up, trying to feel more comfortable in the material and such. That week was followed by another week and a half of insane, crazy work stuff. I had to take over for the day lead assistant editor while he was out. So, I was working his shift, then my shift, and again the weekend.

That was basically when all hope kind of became lost.

Had I realized I was going to drop a class, I wish that, instead of trying to keep up with both, I’d focused on just one, dropped one earlier, and seen if I could make at least one work… But I didn’t.

The one thing I will say that was good about this experience is that I feel like I know some things better for next time.

1) My schedule totally got flipped on its head from days when I signed up for the classes to nights when I was actually taking them. For one class, that didn’t matter. For the other, you had to sign in and be present at the online lecture. Class participation was part of your grade.

But that schedule of course didn’t work as well for me when my schedule was going to be flipped upside down. So, I think if I can avoid it, it’s best not to sign up for a class in which I must be present, unless I have a longer-term job and am at least fairly certain of what my schedule will be for the entire semester.

2) Everyone says start with one class. But I’m stubborn. And I’m all “I need to live right this second and do everything I can now!” And I really didn’t think I’d be working since hiring slows down in the last few months of the year (usually). So I signed up for two classes. As much as I hate to admit it, I think the general advice of past Harvard Extension students is right – start with one.

3) Finally, of the first 3 classes you need to officially be accepted, one is mandatory. The other two you choose. I thought I should jump into the one that’s mandatory. If I have to take it, why not get it out of the way?

Because it’s not my strong suit. That’s why. It’s expository writing. I’ve never had to write a Harvard level paper with all the annotations and bibliography and all that jazz. It’s doable, but it’s hard and new. The other class I was taking was neurobiology. I really like science. That grade was based completely on tests. I’m a great test taker! So, I should start with something I’m strong in, build up my confidence and GPA, and then go try to rock expository writing.

So, that’s where I am with Harvard Extension right now – nowhere, really, because I dropped my classes. I did not sign up for one this spring because I’m trying to watch my money.

(Though at least I will say, as heartbreaking as it is for me to waste the money on the classes I dropped, at least I made all that money back in the extra hours I was working… Still would’ve been nice to not lose all that money. But for some reason, that helped it to sort of feel not quite like a loss… Just let me have that faulty logic to make myself feel okay. Okay?)

Anyway, I do want to hopefully sign up for one in the fall and try again!

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?