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Studens Cross-Register at Harvard, Wellesley

By Stream S. Wang

Every term many students turn to Harvard University and Wellesley College to fulfill some of their requirements.

Students choose to cross-register at these two universities for several reasons. Often these schools offer classes that are not part of MIT's curriculum or that are overenrolled at MIT. Sometimes the change of environment and pace attract students off campus.

However, with these advantages there is also a trade-off with time and convenience.

There are currently 74 undergraduates taking 88 subjects at Harvard, according to Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Office Coordinator Bette K. Davis. This is about the same as last year.

Five students are taking classes at Wellesley, slightly fewer than in past years, said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Mary Z. Enterline.

Language classes are the most common classes taken at Harvard, with 51 percent of cross-registered students enrolled there taking them, Davis said.

"I am taking Yiddish at Harvard because I have always wanted to take it and MIT doesn't offer it," said Joshua D. Milner '95.

Asian Religion, a HASS-Distribution class, is a popular class MIT students take at Wellesley, Enterline said.

Jesse R. Sable '96, who is taking a class at Wellesley, said, "All the other classes I'm taking this term are for my major, so I chose the Wellesley class to help balance things a bit."

One of the unique features of the Wellesley cross-registration program is the Teacher Certification Program, where students earn their certification through classes at MIT and Wellesley. There is also a fifth year option that allows MIT students to attend Wellesley with reduced tuition.

Carrie J. Heitman '96 is taking part in the Teacher Certification Program, and said she is enjoying her experience. "The class is designed to teach teachers how to teach, and is therefore probably somewhat unique in its atmosphere," she said.

"I am thankful that the exchange program offers me the chance to earn teacher certification while I am an undergraduate student," Heitman said.

A change of pace

Another advantage of taking classes at a different schools is that students can experience a different learning environment. Heitman said, Wellesley "is a beautiful campus to visit, and it can be interesting to meet and study with non-MIT students."

Class at Harvard is "harder than I thought it would be, because it is a lot of memorization," said Krista L. Tibbs '95, who is taking Greek to fulfill her Medieval Studies concentration requirement. "Here we can logic the answer; there you just have to know it."

"The advantages are getting to see the very different academic environment at Harvard. They take their humanities classes very seriously," Milner said.

"I take a nice break from MIT three times per week," said George N. Monokroussos '94, who is taking Harvard classes. "Plus, it can't hurt to experience another university, especially if it's one like Harvard." He is taking two Harvard graduate classes: Probability Theory (Statistics 210) and Game Theory (Economics 2052).

Scheduling can be a problem

Despite the advantages, students have noted some difficulties with taking classes at Harvard and Wellesley. Coordinating the MIT and Harvard schedules is a common problem, especially with travel time included. The schools also have different calendars, and the final exams are scheduled at different times - Harvard has final exams in January.

"Getting away from MIT for a few hours is great. The only difficulty I can see in the program is getting it to fit your schedule," Sable said.

"One disadvantage is that I don't know many people there since I'm not part of the Harvard community," Monokroussos said.

All full-time MIT degree candidates are eligible for the program. But they cannot take more than two regular or one intensive Harvard subject each term. Credit earned during cross registration is equivalent to regular MIT credit.

Freshmen receive pass/no record grades for both cross registration programs; sophomores, juniors, and seniors receive their actual letter grades.

Students taking third- or fourth-level foreign language subjects at Harvard or Wellesley can count the subject as the HASS-D language option, with the submission of a petition. Students can also petition for the classes to count as their HASS electives. Upon the approval from one's major department, the classes can count toward the credit for one's major.

Davis strongly recommends the cross registration program. "I think it's an advantage to be able to take subjects not offered here. Students can also take courses with well-known Harvard professors in certain fields," Davis said.

The Harvard course catalog is accessible over the Athena Computing Environment, and can be accessed by typing in add gopher and then xgopher, Davis said.

There is also a cross-registration program between Harvard and MIT for graduate students, handled by Assistant to the Registrar Lisa Marie Rung. Information for this program can be obtained from the Registrar's Office.