This year, as in the past thirty one, residents of Boston unable to attend college have a chance to take the equivalent of a degree at Harvard through the service of the University Extension Courses, under the direction of Arthur F. Whittem, Dean of Special Students.
Known as "Adjunct of Arts", the degree is the equal of a Bachelor of Arts in that men who have passed its requirements are admitted to graduate schools on an even footing with graduates of the College itself.
Interest in these courses has been great in the past, as is shown by last year's enrollment of 1760 students, both men and women. National defense has taken its toll in the extension courses too, for this year there are only 1485 enrollments, probably because of the new job vacancies made by Army service and allied defense efforts.
Graduates Enter Professions
The men and women who come out to Harvard in the late afternoons and evenings to take courses in Harvard and Sever Halls are, according to a report presented to President Conant last year by Dean Whitten, intent on improving their position in the world, through greater knowledge. That they succeed is shown by the fact that about 64 per cent go in the graduate schools, and 44 per cent are connected with education in general.
Costs of the extension courses are made convenient to the leanest purse by the Lowell foundation, which puts up most of the funds is raised from the students themselves, who must pay $2.50 for the equivalent of a half course at Harvard, or $87.60 for a full course. Buildings are loaned free of change by the College.
Outgrowth of Lowell Foundation
The history of the extension courses is an interesting one. Although they have existed under the present system only back to 1910, their ancestor is the Lowell foundation.
Organized under the will of John Lowell, Jr. in 1836, the foundation limited itself to public lectures in Boston, which, in the habit of the day, were principally devoted to religious matters.
At that time, the lectures were open to all who could pay the price of two bushels of wheat. This homely admission ticket covered the cost of one half semester of work.
President Lowell's Brain Child
Then, in 1910, President Lowell of Harvard organized the Commission of Extension Courses as it stands today, taking the funds from the Lowell foundation. Harvard was not the only college taking part in President Lowell's brain child, for other colleges in the vicinity of Boston chipped in with a number of men willing to teach the courses.
At present, of the 29 professors actively engaged in the extension courses, the majority are from Harvard, and the rest from Tufts, B.U. or other colleges.
There is no lack of prominent Crimson names in the extension courses which include such men as Theodore Spencer, associate professor of English Payson S. Wild, associate professor of Government, and Carl J. Freidrich, professor of Government.
Often confused with the extension courses, but in no way connected with the College authorities are the courses offered by the Massachusetts Department of Education. Although these State courses are held in Harvard building, they are in more practical subjects, such as Navigation and bookkeeping their object being to teach a trade.