If you are looking at getting a degree through Harvard’s Extension school make sure you check out the residency requirement for your program. The ALM in IT degree requires you to spend one semester on campus. The summer session counts as a semester and it is only 8 weeks long.
Although some ALM in IT courses may be taken via the Internet, the ALM in IT requires a minimum residency of one semester in the Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School. International candidates holding an F-1 student visa must enroll full time during the resident semester. Other candidates must enroll in at least one ALM in IT course during the resident semester. If the courses in which the ALM in IT candidate enrolls during the residency period are also offered via the Internet, the student must show the ALM in IT Office proof of living within commuting distance of the Harvard campus. Students who plan to be in residence for just one semester are strongly advised to do so after their master’s project has been approved. Such students are urged to arrange for their housing well in advance. Although the Extension School does not provide housing, the Harvard Summer School provides dormitory housing for a fee.
Here are a couple things that I learned during the summer of 2003 while completing my residency requirement:
- Stay near your classes — You’ll be able to concentrate on your studies much more effectively if your classes are nearby. I would find out what building your classes will meet in and find an apartment as close as possible. My classes were all in the Science Center. We rented a very small one bedroom apartment about a 5 minute walk from the Science Center on Kirkland street. This made it easy to quickly get to class even when carrying an armful of books and my laptop.
- Groceries — If you need to stock up on groceries, I would suggest having them delivered. If you are going to be there for eight weeks and have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need, go to one of the online grocery stores and order everything that you’ll want that won’t go bad quickly. The delivery charge isn’t that much if you place a large order and it will save you a lot of hassle of trying to carry a bunch of groceries back to your apartment.
- Look for Corporate Housing — Corporate apartments will usually let you lease places for 8 weeks or less and many come furnished. Obviously it costs more than signing up for a 12 month lease, but there are several advantages. First corporate housing has a higher turn over rate, so you’re more likely to find a place. You might be able to find someone to lease an apartment for just the summer, but we had a lot more luck finding corporate housing. Second, don’t under estimate how difficult it would be do get bring a television, dvd player, table, etc. if you get an unfurnished apartment. Even if you have a way to haul everything you might end up in a place like we were where we could only part for 15 minutes in front of the building. The rest of the time we had to part in a lot about 1 mile away. Third, usually corporate housing takes care of cleaning up when you leave which means you don’t have to go through a long inspection unless you actually damaged something.
- Parking in Cambridge is awful — If you are going to live in Cambridge you probably won’t use your car much. The subway is much less expensive (you can get a pass for $30 per month) and much quicker than dealing with finding and paying for parking. The first time we visited Harvard, we rented a car and stayed in a hotel about 3 miles from Harvard Square. We ended up spending about $60 per day on parking ($20 for the hotel, $20 for our conference parking and $20 for where ever we went in the evening). Even then we had to walk quite a ways to get anywhere.
- Get a good Map — We had a good street level map, but as we were leaving I bought a wall map of Harvard. Several months after we got back, I realized that our apartment was right next to several important sites that I would have really liked to see. It was just on block over in an area that we hadn’t walked through.