Extension Courses Give Adults Cheap Education

Teachers Cite Enthusiasm in Night Classes; Students May Take 34 Years to Finish

It costs twice as much for an undergraduate to drop a course at Harvard as it does for a night student to take the same one.

Adults can even receive Harvard degrees by attending extension courses once a week--if they work long enough. One woman studied 28 years before she got hers. This June only one night-school degree, the 220th since the extension program began, will be conferred at Commencement. Its recipient, a foreman at the Industrial Rayon plant, has studied since 1937.

Many daytime courses are included in the program. Natural Science 3 and Social Science 4, two General Education subjects given at night for the first time this year, are very popular with the adults. They also go for beginning language courses taught in the College by the same teachers.

Many different types of people, ranging from faculty wives with college diplomas to secretaries just out of stenographic school, attend the afternoon and evening classes offered by the Committee on Extension Courses.

Comparatively few of these are working for degrees; those who are, have to write papers and take hour and final exams like College students. They also have to satisfy distribution requirements.

It would take a person 34 years to earn a night degree if he went to only one class a week. This happens because extension students get only a term's credit for a year's work in one course. They attend late afternoon or evening classes once a week for an hour and a half instead of the three hours a week College men work.

Adult Enthusiasm Praised

The enthusiasm of the adults is greater than that of the College men, according to professors who lecture to both types. Such men as Henry D. Aiken '40, associate professor of Philosophy, Samuel H. Beer, associate professor of Government, and I. Bernard Cohen '37, assistant professor of the History of Science, teach during both the day and the night.

Beer finds that he doesn't have to sell his subject to adults "who have an extraordinary thirst for knowledge; they come to learn what you have to say because they are interested in it." He feels that they are not just working to fulfill graduation requirements because their parents made them go to school.

Those who are working for degrees are often doing so to better their chances to get promotions in jobs. Others want to go on to get masters' degrees so that they can teach. Few of them are concerned with having their names written in the permanent records as Harvard alumni.

Though graduates receive a Harvard degree, all extension courses are not given by Harvard professors or in University buildings. The Committee on Extension Courses, which administers the program, includes the presidents of six other colleges--B.U., B.C., Tufts, M.I.T., Simmons, and Wellesley.

Officials of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Massachusetts Board of Education, the Boston School Committee, and the Lowell Institute are also represented. However, ever since the committee's establishment in 1910, its chairmen have been simultaneously Harvard men and directors of University Extension.

Since 1910 the committee has offered an average of 30 courses a year to as many as 1,950 students one term. One of the first courses on Ionic Theory has now given way to the study of atomic energy in the Nature and Growth of the Physical Sciences.

One Original Course Left

Only one course, English Composition, remains today from the original curriculum. It is counted as a 17th full course required for the Harvard extension degree, the A.A. or Adjunct in Arts. The College today only calls for 16 year's credits for its A.B. or B.S.