neprep wrote:Can anyone speak to taking classes at one of the other schools, like HBS or the Kennedy School? My understanding is that the academic calendars don't jive across schools; so, if you want to take classes in these other schools, do you pretty much have to arrive earlier/stay later on campus?
I took 2 classes at HKS. It's a hassle but worth it if you find something you like. One class was probably the best class I've taken at Harvard. Some cons: both of my classes were 1 hr. 20 mins twice/week, and only counted for 2 credits each. I personally found one of the classes I took to be more work than most 3 or 4 credit LS classes, so it was kind of rough for just 2 credits, especially when you're in class for almost the same amount of time. Also, classes at HKS are typically every other day (e.g., Tuesday, Thursday) instead of back to back, which makes scheduling complicated. Also, you have to wait a month or so longer than other HKS students to get your grades because it goes through the law school. So, if there's any issue with your grade, you won't know until much later than everyone else. Also, the cross-registration system is really not good. You don't know for sure if you're in a class until past the add/drop date, and the whole process for getting into a class is just difficult and uncertain.
I'm a JD/MPP, so I take a lot of classes at HKS. A couple of extra things about this:
* The greatest hits at HKS are probably the best classes at Harvard. A few of them are so impacted with HKS students that they don't take cross-registrants at all. A few of them are a little complicated to get into, but you probably can if you're really, really persistent. A good number of them you can just take, because there's plenty of room. PM me if you want to know about a specific class; I can probably tell you about most of them. People say good things about HBS classes, but I know less about them.
* The weekly schedule is horribly in conflict. HLS has a consecutive-days-of-the-week system that no other Harvard campus has (as far as I know). Also, the times don't line up. So a lot of classes will overlap for 10 minutes once a week or something awkward like that, so you can't take them.
* Normally, a 0.5-credit module at HKS counts as 1 cross-registration credit. This is a class that meets for half the semester (which is super convenient for a law student, if it's the first
half of the semester). A 1-credit class at HKS counts as 3 cross-registration credits. Assume that a 1-credit class at HKS (so, 3 cross-registration credits) is at least as much work as a 4-credit class at HLS.
PinkCow wrote:The academic calendar is quite similar. I think classes at HKS might start like a couple days early, but not that bad. They end basically the same as law school classes.
The calendar is technically aligned, but that doesn't mean very much. At HLS, the fall semester began on 9/3 (the day after Labor Day), but that just meant that 1L classes started then, and 2L/3L classes didn't start until 9/9. At HKS, the fall semester began on 9/3, but that meant that course shopping (sitting in on classes to see what you want to take) started on that day, and classes didn't begin until 9/5. Other campuses do things differently, too, e.g., the College starts all classes on 9/3. I don't know what HBS does, but it seems likely that it's slightly different, too.
The campuses also take different holidays. All campuses take Columbus Day off, but HLS uniquely takes the following day off, too. HKS takes Veterans Day off, but the other campuses don't. The list goes on.
In the spring, all the campuses start on the same day, but HLS ends classes on 4/25, and exams start on 4/29. HKS doesn't end classes until 5/2. HLS exams run through 5/8, and HKS classes run through 5/16.
The end result is that you have to get to campus a week (well, a few days, but the prior week) early in the fall or stay up to a week late in the spring, depending on the class's exam schedule.
The HKS grade distribution is here.
PinkCow wrote:Grades are letter grades but they don't factor into your LS GPA calculations. They do show up on your transcript. The curve is pretty tight and you can generally expect an A- or a B+ unless you do really well or really poorly.
PinkCow wrote:Also, this is just a random point, but the facilities at HKS are a little . . . old. Hallways, classrooms, and common areas are typically extremely cramped. Plus, the desks suuucckkkkkk.
Some of the rooms have been refurbished lately. The old L-130 was an affront to educational architecture. The room literally impeded my learning. The new L-130 is much better (though still small). If you get an unrefurbished room (RG-20), it may be a little awkward. If you get a refurbished room (Starr), it's pretty comparable to Austin or Langdell.
Oh, and walking down from HLS to HKS or HBS is kind of a hike. I don't normally mind — it's not more than 15 minutes at most to get to HKS, and probably no more than an extra 10 to get to anywhere at HBS — but in a snowstorm (as today) it can be a little more arduous. Today was one of my HLS-HKS-HLS-HKS-HLS days, so it was a little rough.