You can always tell a Harvard man -
But not with the Harvard Extension School
Hiring Tips for Managers by Burleson Consulting
December 29, 2009
I recently finished interviewing a
job candidate who listed his degree from "Harvard University" plus a graduate degree from
MIT. I have interviewed many Ivy League graduates, and like most
employers, we know that these scholars represent the finest minds in the
world, overcoming intense competition to gain acceptable to schools like
This man presented himself poorly, and was not nearly
as brilliant a person as I expected. My first reaction was "alumni
admission", but that was not the case here.
The old saying goes "You can
always tell a Harvard Man (But you can't tell him much)!", and Harvard
College remains one of the world's most prestigious colleges, largely because of their
selective enrollment process.
Traditionally, employers have
used the Ivies as a screening tool, knowing that the top tier universities have
some of the highest academic standards in the world. Employers
rewards those job candidates who have worked hard to gain acceptance
learned that not all Harvard
degrees are created equal. The Harvard Extension school has an open
enrollment policy, with none of the
academic screening and competition of the "real" Harvard College program.
That's fine, but the problem is that this applicant did not mention the
"extension school" on his resume, and wanted me to believe that he was a
graduate of Harvard College.
While I'm sure that the Harvard Extension School is a fine institution, it's
deceptive of their graduates to suggest that they have earned a place among
Pulitzer Prize winners and Presidents.
internet search reveals that this resume fraud is a real problem, with marginal
scholars touting their affiliations with Harvard University and MIT in hopes of
fooling naive employers.
We have learned the hard way that not all Harvard, MIT
and Cornell graduates are created equal.
should be a crime
across America, HR departments struggle with resume deception and fraud, largely
because unscrupulous applicants know that there is no risk, it's all perfectly
legal to lie about your academic achievements.
can understand why somebody would be proud to have been selected to attend
Harvard where tens of thousands of kids from all over the world compete to
earn admission into this most prestigious institution. While I have
never met a graduate of Harvard College was was not brilliant, I've met more
than a few marginal scholars from the Harvard Extension School, and the only
reason I encountered them was because they deliberately failed to note that
they were affiliated only with the Harvard extension school program.
one Harvard Extension certificate holder who was functionally illiterate, I kid
you not, she could barely read and write . . . She is quite proud of her Harvard certificate and advertised
her affiliation as "Harvard trained" in her newspaper advertisements.
Of course, people instantly
recognize that she has elementary school literacy skills and most folks feel
ripped-off after wasting their time contacting this poser.
Harvard degrees are equal
There is nothing wrong with getting these
certificates (the Harvard Extension use the same professors as Harvard College),
but it's a real fraud for Harvard Extension graduates to misrepresent
themselves as Harvard College graduates.
The Harvard extension school is
night school which issues bachelors degrees, with none of the
competition and selectivity that distinguishes Harvard College as a
College, the Harvard Extension school does not require stellar SAT
scores nor valedictorian-level academics.
- Harvard Extension School
credits are not transferrable to Harvard College, and it's next to
impossible for a Harvard Extension School student to transfer into
ordinary extension students even get a Harvard e-mail address, further allowing
them to pretend that they were accepted to Harvard College.
Many of these Harvard
e-mail addresses to try to mislead prospective employers ("I'm a
Harvard man"), and sadly there are some employers
who believe that these fellows underwent the same super-selective screening
Harvard College students.
employers don't care that Harvard
Extension degrees are not as worthy as the real-deal Harvard because they want to
deceive their customer.
It's very prestigious
for a corporation to advertise that they have "Harvard educated"
employees on their payroll. Personally, it makes Harvard look bad and
it also deceives the general public who believe that being accepted to
Harvard takes years of hard work.
problem is not unique to Harvard and unscrupulous job seekers will be
deceptive about any prestigious schools that offer "extension" programs,
like MIT and Cornell.
had one scumbag tell me "I attended MIT" in an interview, when he hadn't completed any of the rigorous
qualifications required for regular entry into the MIT undergraduate program. This
poser didn't even have a college degree! Instead, he had earned an "MIT Sloan - Executive Certificate in Management and
Leadership" without even having a degree, and he felt that this
workshop entitled him to say that he had attended MIT!
The easiest way to tell a "fake" MIT certificate holder is to ask to see their "Brass
Rat" (The MIT class ring), which is only awarded to real MIT students.
Most MIT posers will not know what you mean when you say "Brass Rat".
MIT posers will not know that the school ring is called a "brass rat"
Ivy posers are out of their league
problem of Ivy League posers is that they waste time and cost money, as HR
professionals waste time and money on interviews and background checks from job
applications whowant you to believe that they are Ivy league graduates.
This type of misrepresentation shows
the sad trend that some people are
dishonest and deceptive. I had one Harvard Extension student lie
to be at a job interview, saying that the Extension had rigorous admission
standards that were comparable to Harvard College. It just ain't so. . .
Hiring Managers - Accept no substitutes
there is nothing wrong with these extension programs per se, just be forewarned that not
all Ivy league degrees are created equal.
sure that there are exceptional graduates of the extension schools,
and my note here only serve as warnings to fellow managers against the "bad apples" who misrepresent
their Ivy league affiliation to deceive employers.
Of course, not everyone agrees.
Please see below, where
some students of the extension
school have sent notes reiterating that they are just as good as graduates of
Harvard College. This reader feedback speaks
volumes about the selectivity of the Harvard Extension School and the quality of
their students. Judge for yourself . . .
Received April 17, 2011
Good day Burleson Consulting,
I recently came across an article on your web site bashing the Harvard
Was there a reason that the writer of that article picked on the
Extension School’s open enrollment policy. I would just like to point out
that the open enrollment policy does not guarantee a passing grade in any of
the courses offered. It appears the writer of that article could be one of
those people that have tried to pass a course at the Harvard Extension
School and Failed.
The writer goes on to bash the Harvard Extension School concerning those
individuals that have misrepresented themselves concerning their attendance
there. The writer fails to understand that these misrepresentations occur
regardless of what college/universities they use on their resumes. Indeed
there are individuals that have been fraudulent claiming medical degrees
from Princeton University on their resumes (Princeton does not have a
medical school), or business degrees from Yale (Yale does not have a
Why the Harvard Extension School is singled out could only be due to a
vendetta the nameless author has against it.
searching online for some information about the Harvard Extension School and
accidentally came across your article "You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man - But
not with the Extension School" instead. I hope you will allow me a few brief
comments, not necessarily in defense of the Harvard Extension School, but simply
to offer a bit of clarification. I am NOT a student there, as I have my own
negative perceptions of the Extension School as well, but I have taken classes
there and while I'm sure it's not always comparable to Harvard College, overall
it does offer a quality education.
Secondly, if you research the Extension School's admission requirements, you
will find that there is a selective process for entry into the degree programs.
It is true that anyone who can pay the tuition can take courses at Harvard
Extension School. However, to be admitted to the degree programs, students must
submit writing samples, complete at least 4 Harvard Extension School classes
with at least a 3.0 GPA, and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5. Students who are
admitted to the degree program and earn a GPA of 3.33 or higher after completing
32 credits are in fact eligible to take courses at Harvard College.
While there are plenty of "average" folks in the Harvard Extension School, there
are also several very bright and talented students, so don't write it off
completely. Please, in the future, take enough personal responsibility in your
distribution of (dis)information to adequately research the topic.
First of all, the man neglected to mention that
while the Harvard Extension School is open enrollment, there is a formal
admissions process to enter the degree programs. Granted this admissions process
is no where on the level of Harvard College , it is still comparable to a top
tier state school. Take for instance The University of Washington, which
requires a 2.5 GPA to transfer into their undergraduate college, that same
MINIMUM standard is required to enter the Extension School ’s ALB program. It is
even higher for the MLA. Now if the author wants to discount the Extension
School as being illegitimate than he should discount most colleges that require
a 2.5 transfer GPA, not to mention the ones that simply require a 2.0.
I admit personally that there have been numerous people trying to pass off their
Extension School degree as bonafide [sic] College degrees but their deception
shouldn’t undermine the exceptional work that many Extension School students put
into the program. The author should’ve done a little more homework to realize
that if a student maintains a 3.3 GPA average after 32 credits of study, he is
granted Special Student Status, which allows him to take up to two College
courses a semester. Now if your Consulting firm can find me another academic
program from a top tier school that can get me into Harvard College off a 3.3
GPA then I would proudly hop on the anti-Harvard Extension bandwagon.
Some other nifty options that Harvard allows Extension Students to undertake are
Research Assistantships, access to all the College Clubs and Organizations, and
volunteering at the Philip Brooks House. The Extension School allows the student
to make his or her own education worthwhile. The program is a work your way up
Harvard program, where as long as you maintain a high GPA the more access you’re
allowed into the many options Harvard has in store for you.
So while the article makes some valid points about some students using the
Extension Program as a community college, it’s more than just enrolling for
classes that makes the degree worth it. It’s what you do with your time there
that makes it stand out more.
To whom this may
Initially, I wanted to make a public comment in response to this particular
article by Don Burleson:
However, your site doesn't provide a link (or at least a visible one) to do so.
I will keep this as short as I can as I'm sure you have things to do - For
instance, blemishing the credibility of Harvard University Extension School.
I am currently living in Las Vegas and am taking a class online with the
Extension School. For your site to blatantly discount and discredit my school
is a blasphemy, and your ill-intentioned writer needs to go back to school
himself to study the method of "Conducting Thorough Research 101". Most of his
"facts" were clearly inaccurate, and still you published his article
nonetheless. You should be ashamed for misleading
the public who come to you for advice and keep your business afloat.
For people like me who have families and full-time jobs, it's a blessing for an
institution like Harvard to give us the opportunity to obtain a quality
education from quality Harvard instructors. Not only did this site belittle my
choice to go there and the value of money I spent, but it belittled the work of
acclaimed Harvard faculty who split their time between Harvard College and
Harvard Extension School. Those faculty members are a perfect example of people
who care about education - no matter which school their students attend within
the Harvard University family of schools.
Your writer claims that Harvard Extension issues bachelor degrees, which it does
not. Depending on one's field of study, one must first complete a certain
amount of credits at Extension and then complete the rigorous application
process to Harvard College's degree programs. It is not until an individual is
accepted into a DEGREE PROGRAM
offered at Harvard College (for which many Extension students opt to strive)
that they can be issued a degree. Again, tell your writer to do his
The Extension School grants people like me (the people whom your writer
blatantly denunciates) the opportunity to transfer into a Harvard College degree
program by first encouraging us to maintain a 3.3 gpa, and allowing us to take
classes that help to build academic credibility. These courses do not harvest
"serious idiots" nor are we "dishonest and deceptive". To be honest, I'm
extremely hurt by your writer's remarks. And again, it's a shame that your
writer abused his power to reach out to his readers by vandalizing the quality
of Extension Schools (Harvard or other).
Perhaps your writer was disenfranchised by a particular isolated experience with
an individual who used his/her Harvard CERTIFICATE fraudulently, but that
doesn't warrant the horrible nature in which he wrote his article. Please
re-examine his credibility as a writer for your company. And please rethink
article on your site.
26 September 08
important to first clarify some things:
Firstly, I want to make a formal apology for some misinformation on my part.
mentioned that HES doesn't offer Bachelors degrees, but it indeed does.
Well, ONE to be exact, for Liberal Arts. They also offer Masters degrees as
well, but I digress. Also, Extension credits are not transferable to the
College like I thought they were. Extension students who do attend "The College"
are those who are under "Special Student Status" who have earned the privilege
by conducting their academic endeavors fittingly. The requirements for a degree
mentioned in my previous letter are that of the Extension's in order to be
considered for a degree program within that school, not the College. All these
things were clarified to me by my academic advisor after showing him your
Again, please accept my humblest apologies for the misinformation on my part. I
may have confused your readers as I was confused myself, and was speaking in
haste and frustration, so I apologize profusely to all. Perhaps we share the
same fact checker?
With that said, if that former applicant said he/she has a Bachelors degree, and
it was for Liberal Arts, AND he provided appropriate credentials to prove so, I
don't see why he should be labeled a liar. But, that's your prerogative. I
guess it all depends on individual people who intentionally leave out the
"Extension School" portion of the school's name when in interviews. I can't
apologize for them nor speak on their behalf, but I do sympathize for the
Please know most of the people who do graduate from HES are proud to have the
education that this school offers to its students. And some of that pride does
come from the "Harvard" name, considering most of the faculty teach the same
material to both schools and that HES is, in fact, part of the Harvard family.
And though your particular company makes the choice to hire only from the
College when Harvard alumni apply for jobs, please consider the fact that the
education received at HES is also quite exceptional.
To further prove so, I beg you to please take some time to read this short
article printed in the Crimson (it's very uplifting):
If you will print my last letter on your page, please, if possible, also print
this one as to avoid any misguided discourse for your readers. I came upon your
article after enrolling to get more information on the school, so if anyone else
does the same, I'd hate for them to get confused.
you, again, for your time and prompt respose.
3 October 08
Thanks for your feedback.
Please understand that I have no problems with your school whatsoever, it sounds
What I have a problem with is the graduates representing themselves as Harvard
Graduates, deceptively placing themselves among the finest scholars in the
world. My company prefers those with degrees from Harvard College and we waste
time every month with fraudsters who says that they possess a Harvard degree.
"Your writer claims that Harvard Extension issues bachelor degrees, which it
Thanks for bring this to my attention.
I wrote this page in direct response to people whose resumes indicated that that
had a bachelors degree from Harvard.
During the interview, they admitted that they attended Harvard Extension School.
I guess the degree was a lie too. . . .
It seems that Mr. Burleson refuses to get his facts straight on the Harvard
Even after he's received complaints about his article, he continues to repeat
lies about the Extension School.
Graduates of the Extension School ARE graduates of Harvard, period. Harvard
Extension School is not some office building on the other side of the Charles
River with a half ripped banner that says 'Harvard Extension'. It is an actual
school of the University situated on campus like the College, the GSAS and the
Law School. The only difference is that it caters to adult learners part time.
The Extension School does not issue Bachelors degrees, only the University and
the Fellows of Harvard College do. Extension Students receive their degrees from
them and them only. There is no Extension School bachelors degree. The people
who told you that they received their degrees from the Extension School were
just referring to their school (affiliation), like someone would mention they
received their degree from the Law School. In reality though, they're both
Harvard University graduates.
What part of this is Mr. Burleson just not understanding? It seems as though he
did very little homework on the subject and decided to demean the school out of
spite. An Extension School bachelors degree is upheld by the University as a
legitimate Harvard University degree. Extension School graduates join the same
alumni network as students from the College. They participate in the same
graduation commencement, join the same clubs, and have access to the same alumni
clubs all around the world.
So should a person interested in hiring a Harvard grad with an Extension degree
really listen to Mr. Burelson's [sic] shoddy, spiteful advice or should he
listen to Harvard University?
>> Graduates of the Extension School ARE graduates of Harvard, period.
No, they are not. Most hiring managers know only of
Harvard College is among the most selective universities in
the world, and only accept the world’s best scholars. The Harvard extension school
is not nearly as selective and accepts
many marginal students.
Corporation reply on Harvard to pre-select the best people
and it’s “posers” like you who commit fraud against the hiring community by
pretending to be “Harvard Men”.
You waste our time, and our money.
It’s deceptive, and my warnings to hiring managers are
confirmed by your ridiculous statements of equality.
You have quite the nerve Mr. Borges, comparing yourself to
the best and the brightest in the world.
With respect, I just wanted to email this to you, I
know this was written last November, but I had happen to come across this
while scanning through the internet, and wanted to respond, even though it
has been 8 months. I didn’t go to Harvard College, but I did go to Harvard
Law School, which is almost just as difficult to get into, if not just as
hard, based on the amount of applicants and percentage rate. Sometime after
a personal medical injury I went back to school to Harvard Extension School
for an “engineering degree” (actually it was an Information of Biotechnology
degree which was accredited by the
USTPO) to become a Patent Attorney;
like documented on some of the emails, there is a Bachelors degree as
well as a Masters degree and even an Associate degree. You need to take the
minimum of 3 classes as a unregistered student and have a B- or better in
all of them to be accepted in as a HES student, then after 32 credits you
can apply to the College if you have a 3.3 GPA to take 2 classes per
semester, if you qualify (you won’t be accepted into the College itself
though). As a HES student you will have access to anything like a HC student
will expect one thing, and that is the eligibility to play on their official
I taught at a state school back in the day, and the
Extension School is MUCH better and harder than any other state school in
that state, plus the connections you get are great, because you are legally,
(not by knowledge or respect) considered a Harvard University Grad., for
example- if you go to any other
school and take their night classes, you will get the same degree as the day
students do. Even though the HES diploma does state “Extension” on it
instead of College. The Extension school is one of 13 schools at Harvard
University. No other school in the country, to my knowledge at least, states
night school on the student diploma’s even though it’s easier to get into
night school and/or continuing education than day school. So the school does
credit those who do go to the College vs. the Extension in their own way.
But with that information put aside, I strongly agree
with you, not that it is easy, but that is definitely EASIER to get into the
Extension then the College and not the same requirements. Those that do get
into the College deserve more
respect, acknowledgment and credit for getting into one of the best schools
in the country, if not the best. In simple words I do agree, it is two
different levels of planes or qualifications you are talking about, but the
HES is also a very well recognized school itself and definitely above
average on the standard of difficulty.
This is in response to your article degrading extension school graduates.
I decided to write my response to you in English, as you may not speak
French, German, Arabic, or Spanish.
I am an Extension School
student. I received Bachelors of Science in Management and Operations, from
Faculty of Tourism and Hotel, School of Hotel and Restaurant Management,
Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt.
I expect that you are going to dismiss that school, just because you
never heard of it, even though that the graduates of my class are managing,
operating, and administering every upper class hotel in the Middle East and
east Mediterranean, not mentioning that the bearers of our PhD program are
currently teaching at Cornell, Lausanne, Maastricht, and Tennessee.
I expect that you are going to dismiss these schools too as
insignificant, because they are not up to your standards. I am not sure also
how many people you have interviewed in your life, but, given your high
level of expectations, it seems that the number of people whom were granted
the honor to meet your Excellency, is limited to a select few, who have
caused you a headache by intruding on your comfort zone. Please excuse my
English, it is my third language.
I am a Business analyst in a Mega
Casino, with certificates from American Hotel & Lodging Association,
American Society of Travel Agencies, Microsoft, Cisco, 3Com, and MySQL. I
supervise four managers and fifteen employees. My direct supervisor is the
Hotel Executive GM, who is a part owner of the Hotel/Casino.
You should appreciate that I dedicated 20 minutes of my time to respond
to you, and tell you that your bashing of my school has left a bitter taste
in my throat beyond your belief.
I work hard, dedicate 20 hours a week for my on-line classes, ignore my
kids football games and choirs, leave my wife to go out alone, pay thousands
of dollars from my own pocket and spend it on my education instead of buying
things for my household, have sleepless nights before the finals, and travel
hundreds of miles for the final exams, just to finish my Masters dgree [SIC]
at Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University,
through Harvard Extension School.
Then come your Excellency to
destroy my image in front of my son, and everyone who may search for
information about my school, just because you ran into a couple of bad
apples. You are deliberately ignoring the bad apples that graduated YOUR
Maybe it would be good for us to know what school did YOU graduate,
so we can look for your worst peers, and make sure that we constantly
consider their low level of performance as an example of what you may
deliver in goods and services.
My field of study includes Database
Management, distributed computing, systems programming, software design,
which will include, but not limited to: UNIX, Oracle, Java, and Artificial
So let me say it delicately, but firmly; Due to your article of bashing
my school, I had to spend 25 minutes with my son doing nothing but
dismissing your article from the mind of my 12 years old son, who was
looking on line for information about his father’s school, to get encouraged
to pursue education at Harvard Secondary school.
I will free myself later for a more solid response to you, and everyone
who bashes my school later. For the time being, you may enjoy your claim of
supremacy, as I see your style of behavior on daily basis in the hospitality
Please, keep on your act of royalty, as we make a living
on the balloons of ego similar to yours. By the way, if you think that this
article is the best way to promote your business, you just lost one client
here, and I promise you, there should be more to lose with your attitude.
Essam Mahmoud Awad
And our response:
Thank you for your note. Your
response speaks volumes about the admission standards of the Harvard
extension school and the personal integrity and intelligence of the students.