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HDS question: what is the class attendance policy?


Averroes MD
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My day job will require me to work six days a month, of which about half will be on weekdays. So, I will likely have to miss three days of each month. (These days will be random each month.)

So, what is the attendance policy at HDS? Will I be ok, you think?

Thanks!

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At HDS, and I assume at most grad schools, your job is to be a student and therefore to attend classes. Missing more than one class (and even missing one will not go unnoticed, especially in seminars) will often affect your grade and/or your professor's opinion of you. If you do need to miss classes, particularly for work at another job, it would be best to coordinate directly with your professors in advance. I'd also suggest that you coordinate with your employers at this other day job, explain to them the situation and the constraints it will place on your time, and ask them to help work around your class schedule. In most cases you will not have class 5 days a week, and even then you will only have class for a few hours each day, so with a small amount of flexibility on their part you shouldn't have a problem fulfilling all of your committments to both of your jobs.

 

Congrats on coming to HDS! It's a wonderful place. I'll look forward to meeting you in the fall!

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You cannot miss class as a graduate student, especially in research seminars, excepting of course for severe illnesses and emergencies.  Like the previous post explained, if right from the beginning you begin requesting absences, your professors, some who might write you future LORs, will immediately become suspect of your dedication.  

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I graduated from the MDiv program at HDS this past May and would say that you should expect to be on campus for 15-25 hours a week for classes and the like. Lectures tend to meet for more course hours than seminars (lectures typically are twice a week for 1.5 or 2 hours and then have hour long discussion sections once a week, whereas seminars are typically 2-3 hours once a week) and language classes often meet more often than that (depending on the level of the language course you may have class three times a week for an hour or two). During shopping week you get to go around to whatever classes you're interested in, both in the yard, at other graduate schools, and at HDS, so you can look at the syllabi, experience the teaching styles of your professors, and sample what discussion might look like. So you can have a great deal of say in how much time you're in class/on campus each week, reducing it as low as 2 or 3 days a week if you're savvy. That said, there is a lot of work outside of class, so to be successful you should plan on committing at least 50 or 60 hours a week to your duties as a student. I've seen people slim it down to just 40, but that often comes with a ding to their GPA and the overall quality of their work and engagement with the materials.

 

Finally, HDS and Harvard have a TON going on in terms of student activities, clubs, conferences, etc. and I highly encourage you to find at least one or two things and get involved. In my experience, the students at HDS will be your greatest teachers, so taking the time to push beyond the culture of business and forge real casual and collaborative relationships with other students will be well worth the effort.

 

Looking forward to seeing you in the fall too, Pertyion!!

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I can only speak about my own classes/schedules that I have had (and professors). A lot of what theorykween said is absolutely true.

 

Due to language courses, I have been on campus Monday through Friday, as my Arabic class has met from Monday through Friday every day since my first day at HDS. My other classes have often fallen between 3-4 days a week on top of these Arabic classes.

 

One thing about Harvard in general (and HDS particularly) is that professors like leading seminar classes instead of flat out lecturing to their students. Therefore, your lack of participation due to absence will definitely be noticed. Even if there is a class in which the main component is lecturing by the professor, "sections" are set up in which the class is broken down into smaller sections an additional hour once a week in order for there to be more participation from students. So much is taught and learned during each and every class at Harvard, that I have done almost everything I could to never miss a class.

 

Some profs are lenient in regards attendance policies, but most of mine have not been. In fact, in nearly every class of mine, participation has counted for 30%+ of my final grade.

Edited by MsBOOM
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Thank you all for your responses. It certainly wasn't the answer I was hoping for, but I appreciate the honesty.

 

I'll definitely have some difficult decisions to make. However, I do think I'll be able to work it out. Thanks!

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