Monday, January 21, 2008

No More Questions about the Harvard Extension School?

Shortly after launching Harvard Extended in June 2005, I started getting emails from people interested in the Harvard Extension School. The messages generally came from out-of-state residents who were researching the quality of the school, and/or had specific questions about the ALB and ALM programs. Most had seen the Extension School's official website, but they wanted to hear from a real student. Through Google, they found me.

Although I couldn't answer all of the questions I received, I usually tried to the best of my ability to relate my experiences at the Extension School or point them to other resources. On several occasions, I turned some of the questions and answers into blog posts, for the benefit of others who had similar questions (see Questions from a prospective Harvard Extension School student and Acceptance rate for Harvard Extension School graduate programs?) but I stopped after the trickle of emails turned into a steady flow. I received dozens of messages -- in August of last year, I remarked that I was getting about two emails per month. In the same post, I noted that some of these contacts were actually relocating to the Boston area to attend the Harvard Extension School:
It's interesting to see how readers have turned to the Harvard Extended blog for information and even inspiration. I started the blog for research-related reasons, and to chronicle my experience in the Extension School's ALM program, but for a few readers it has helped them make major life decisions.

It's a good feeling knowing that I've helped people in this way, but it's also a little unsettling. Changing one's career or academic path is very common in our society, but moving across state lines -- or across the country -- to attend the Harvard Extension School takes things to a different level. We local students can drop out of a program, or take a break from studies without any major impact on our jobs or family lives, but the folks who move to Massachusetts have already quit their jobs and said goodbye to family and friends. They have made a huge commitment, and it's much harder for them to stop or take a break. I really do admire them -- I think the ALM program is fabulous and worth all of the time, effort, and tuition I have put into it since 2003, but I am not sure I would be willing or able to quit my job or relocate my family to take part.
Shortly after writing this post, the flow of emails stopped. Around November, I realized that it had been some time since someone had emailed me about the Harvard Extension School.

What happened? While some people coming to the Harvard Extended blog find what they need and no longer need to ask additional questions, I believe that the dropoff was mainly caused by the rise of other online information resources about the Extension School, and their prominence in Google searches. These resources include the Wikipedia entry for the Extension School. There are also new HES blogs popping up, such as ClueHQ (ALB student) and Mission Control (ALM/Government), which provide additional information and opinion about the school.

It's a positive trend, especially considering that my own studies have wrapped up and the information on Harvard Extended will start to get dated. After I participate in Commencement this June, I am thinking about retiring this blog. It's been fun writing about the Extension School and my research interests, but with the end of my coursework, the successful completion of my thesis, and my graduation from the ALM program, the main reasons for maintaining Harvard Extended are removed. It will be time for me to move on.


Anonymous said...

No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't retire the blog. You may not be getting flooded with eails, but it absolutelty doesn't mean we're not reading!

I Lamont said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your comment. I know that I have a lot of regular readers, but it's hard for me to continue blogging about the Extension School and its programs following my graduation this June. This blog was originally created to track my thesis progress. Later, I used it as a platform to explore various research interests and classes. Now that the thesis is complete and my coursework has ended, there is little reason for me to keep this going.

I will, however, continue to blog about other topics elsewhere (see Additionally, the best way to keep up with what's going on at the Extension School is to tune into the other HES blogs and communities described above.

Anonymous said...

It's been good having a reasoned voice with regard to the Extension School, especially since so many people get their feathers ruffled about it. If/when you do stop blogging here, please keep it available as a resource that people can look back on.