My Summer Class at Harvard

Logo for Harvard University where I'm taking a summer class online.

People who know me know that I have given a lot of grief to Harvard grads over the years.   Many of the CEO’s I have worked for have been the products of a Harvard University education, and most of them have really failed to impress me.   So here is a chance at some irony, I’m taking a behavioral fiance class at Harvard this summer.

Let me say for the record that I never thought that Harvard grads were not intelligent.   Even though I didn’t finish college, I did enough work to respect those who have.   I think the problems I saw with the CEO’s I worked for was that they were trained to work in large corporations, not start-ups.   Start-ups requires being nimble and thrifty, while no decision at a big company is made without a lot of bureaucracy, and cost is not an issue.   I saw these companies make decisions that seemed based more on defending the decision later than what was best for the company at that point.   And after being around to see some companies go from start-ups to big public corporations with thousands of stock holders, I can see better now the mind set they were in.

I have been thinking of finished school for a while now.   I don’t have the usual motivators that people my age would have in going back to school.   I work for myself, so I’m not doing it for job security or more money.   I’m continuing my education more for myself.   There are some areas, like behavioral finance that I’m interested in and feel ashamedly ignorant.   I would also like to take some history classes in the future, and possibly a writing class, which I think everyone reading this agrees I could use.

My decision to attend Harvard came in a round about way.   One of my clients is Capella University, which offers online degrees for many different schools.   That made me start thinking of attending school online.   I do live less than a mile from SOU, but I haven’t been terribly impressed with the school or it’s professors.

After some searching around I came across the Harvard program.   Obviously Harvard University is about as good as a brand can get in the college space, so I felt compelled to look at what they offered.   After looking at the site I decided to check out their section at iTunes U, which is not easy to get to through the main iTunes navigation, you have to go here to find the great content Harvard as put up through iTunes.   After going through a few lectures there, I felt confident that Harvard would work best for me.

I also found it fascinating how quickly someone can get into Harvard.   Anyone can sign up for the online courses.   And after you take four courses, as long as you don’t let any grade fall to less than a B-, you are admitted to the Harvard program.   You cannot get a Harvard degree completely online, the program would require at least a couple summers on campus, but what a world this opens up for young people.   This might be an excellent program for Michael.   He can take a few classes with me while in high school, and then be able to attend Harvard without having to worry about all the nonsense like SAT’s and references.   I also love that Harvard has such great foreign programs that would allow him to spend a year in places like Venice.

But along with being excited about attending class and learning, I have to admit to being a little nervous.   It’s been a long time since I had to study anything.   And I have never had to attend a class that will have the requirements that Harvard is likely to have.   The books for this class come to total of well over 1,000 pages of text.   I picked one of the books up so I can start going through it now.   One of the reasons I took behavioral finance is that it’s a subject I’m interested in, and I do know little about the subject, so hopefully I’ll have a small head start.   I guess we’ll see if I’m nearly as smart as I think I am.

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