In Our Students’ Words
Undergraduate Students and Graduates
“When I started HMU, I knew that I did not want the mere achievement of a grade. I wanted to engage with great minds, to ponder over the ideas that are at the heart of the human condition, and, if I was lucky, to gain a measure of wisdom. While I cannot testify that I have become wiser over the course of study, it has been a great pleasure to read the works of great thinkers and to attempt to sort through what they have written. HMU has given me the opportunity to understand the works of thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Aurelius, and Montaigne.
The process of shared inquiry is of unimaginable benefit. Spending time pondering the questions that arise when reading a work of philosophy, science, history, or great literature is of immense benefit to the serious student of the humanities. One of the advantages at HMU is that one asks his own questions of a text, rather than relying on a professor’s interests to guide one’s reading.
One is not left alone, however, to muddle through answering his questions. He is not abandoned to the resources of his own mind. This is shared inquiry. The discussions I have had with my tutors have refined my questions and helped me to find better answers. They have brought to my attention passages relevant to my inquiry that I may have glossed over, or drawn my attention to how another author considered the question at hand. Through discussions with tutors I have become a better reader and student.
As I near completing my bachelor’s degree, it is not the attainment of the paper that is foremost in my mind. As I go through my day, I contemplate Plato’s conception of justice. I work through Aristotle’s conception of what it means to be human. I consider Aurelius’ austerity. I do not know if I have become any wiser, but I have begun to seriously consider the works of the wise. And I know that I have gained something far richer than a mere grade.”
J. Keller, Bachelors Program Graduate (2015)
“Looking back, when I first started at Harrison Middleton University, it seemed a little daunting. I had been away from school for many years but I had a goal for the future set up in my mind during that time. I am excited to say, my plans have been unfolding ever since attending HMU.
Over the course of my time here, all of my encounters with the HMU staff have been rewarding ones. They have always been very gracious and supportive. In every discussion with a Tutor they have repeatedly helped me to feel comfortable while at the same time challenging me to delve deeper, broadening and enriching my thoughts. The valuable feedback from the Portfolio Evaluator continues to be beneficial and instructive. My Mentor and all of the administrative staff have been prepared to assist and encourage me onward in such positive ways.
All the Courses that I’ve taken have surpassed my expectations. Each one has been a wonderful journey through great works of literature, by way of the Great Books. Something that seemed unique to HMU was; after choosing a course I was able to write my papers very specifically on what was relevant to my goals. I have never written a paper for HMU that I didn’t believe was important to me personally. Every discussion has been inspiring and edifying.
When looking to my future plans and considering my time and experiences at HMU, the benefits have been invaluable. Something I have told my family members for years when they are facing situations that are unfamiliar or challenging, I tell them to think of it as an adventure. I have recommended HMU to others and will continue to do so; if asked, I would say, think of it as an adventure, a really great adventure!”
C. McClain, Current Undergraduate Student (2015)
Masters Students and Graduates
"As a mother, home educator, curriculum developer, teacher, and co-founder of an online literature academy, I have found my experience at HMU an invaluable opportunity to pursue my personal and professional interests in literature and writing. From creating coursework to shaping discussions to writing formal, literary analyses, HMU has placed me in the driver’s seat of my own education. HMU’s flexible paramaters have allowed me to schedule my courses in concert with my larger personal and professional obligations. The text-based classes keep me and my tutors on the same page, so to speak, forcing us to anchor our discussions and interpretations within the framework of the author’s explicit language. This emphasis on discovering the ideas of the author is a refreshing departure from the deconstruction you find in higher education. HMU’s respect for the authors, ideas and language of the Western Canon has made my graduate experience a pleasure, rather than a must-do, hold-your-nose-and-get-it-over-with trial. The tutors’ personal accomplishments remain understated; rather than hijack discussions, they push students to read with deeper understanding and model humility before the text. Portfolio evaluators consistently offer detailed comments to help me develop as a writer. The result for me has been a growing confidence in my ability to read, think, and articulate ideas, and, I hope, the signature self-knowledge and empathy that accompanies the honest study of any classic. I would recommend HMU to anyone with an inquisitive mind who desires a larger community in which to study the great ideas of man."
M. Andrews, Current Masters Program Student (2016)
"I’ve said this to anyone who listens and those who read the DegreeInfo Distance Learning website – Harrison Middleton offers unique studies in classical education. We in the graduate programs are especially fortunate because we design our own curricula and courses based on our goals, interests and needs. I’ve “washed out” of several graduate programs in the past because they just didn’t provide the type of reading and learning I prefer. I live on an island and cannot attend classes in person. Online graduate courses are shockingly deficient in students’ ability to communicate in standard college English, and teachers seem to be mostly executing a cookie-cutter set of assignments.
Then, somehow, I found HMU. Oh joy, oh happiness, this was what I had always wanted for my own daughter’s undergraduate education (um, she had other ideas) – based on the Great Books of the Western World. I had no particular goals in my Philosophy/Religion degree; rather, I wanted to continue an education for personal enrichment and knowledge. My personal quest was: Why are we here? What is the moral center of man and what drives that morality or lack of? Is there a God, and what have the great writers said about God, or gods? The Great Books are especially suited to this specific degree because the ongoing Great Conversation during the past 2500 years has been thoughtful insight into the human condition, moral dilemmas, and what compels man to behave in different ways under varied circumstances through the centuries.
Thinking back, I feel silly that I was very nervous during my first two courses when I spoke to my Tutors on the phone for the course discussions. I had no idea what to expect, how the conversations would flow and what kind of people I’d be speaking to. Without exception, all Tutors have been very kind, brilliant, helpful, jovial and understanding. Some have had a great sense of humor, easing some tension on my part. There have been many times when my Tutors and I have had some laughs about the “old, dead white guys” who wrote the books in my courses. Sorry Montesquieu and Aquinas, you definitely write a bit much!
On the other hand, the Portfolio Evaluators are a very tough crowd but rightly so, as I quickly discovered. I was shocked when an Evaluator sent an essay back (the first of many) with multiple corrections, requests for elaboration of my interpretations, all of which I’d never encountered in other degree programs. When I re-read the essays that needed corrections and adjustments, I quickly (grudgingly) realized the Evaluators were spot on in their judgments of my essays. We all think of our words as our children, quite difficult to cut from our essays. I love to write, thus guilty of needing those necessary revisions. I’m used to it now, but because I’m about to begin my final course it’s too bad we can’t begin the academic journey with all of this knowledge and information. Learning the hard way probably makes for a permanent imprint in our brain. It will definitely help everyone be a much more succinct writer in academia and the workplace.
The administrators and support staff are without exception very helpful, always responding quickly to e-mails. When I sometimes become discouraged or need a little pep talk, Dr. Deacon is so positive, a great advocate and cheerleader, and provides practical suggestions whenever I ask. I believe the entire staff truly wants every student to succeed, love their course of study and complete their program.
I always mention HMU as a truly unique experience and worth the effort – on my own blog via a link to HMU, on the Distance Learning website, on my Amazon profile, as well as to anyone who is within hearing distance if they ask what I do now that I don’t work. My goals – continue to be “educating,” not educated, which implies there’s an end if you’re “educated.” We’re never finished, we’re always learning. HMU has been a guiding light for me and for the first time, I know I’ll finish my master’s program. Thank you, HMU, staff, administrators, Tutors. You’re the best; I mean that from the heart and with much gratitude.”
C. Jonas, Current Masters Program Student (2015)
Doctoral Students and Graduates
~Harrison Middleton University offers an excellent venue for personal and professional growth.
~Paradoxically, HMU's focus on closely reading, discussing, and revisiting a wide range of older texts, helps participants discover refreshingly new insights and perspectives. Through rigorous, relational, and reflective learning, participants find a healthy alternative to our contemporary culture of sound bites and distractions.
~HMU offers a healthy balance of form and flexibility that challenges me to simultaneously develop my skills of discipline and divergent thinking.
~The rhythms of independent study followed by discussion and reflection with difficult texts, challenge me to be a lifelong learner and to compassionately understand the struggles that my students face as learners.
~The dean and the tutors actively involve students in assembling and adapting the materials and the applications of the materials.
~I am especially grateful that my doctorate work with the Great Books and Great Conversation has provided an anchor to keep me steady in the storms of educational reform over the last few years.
~I highly recommend Harrison Middleton University for public educators who are looking for a thoughtful alternative or supplement to the common professional growth venues. It's especially helpful to those who live in remote locations.
~My wife even testifies that my arguments, opinions, and ideas are so much more clearly expressed than before I started working with Harrison Middleton University.
J. Reynolds, Current Doctor of Education Student (2016)
“Harrison Middleton University provided me with the type of educational environment I was looking for in a distance learning doctoral degree program. As a working professional who routinely put in 50-60 hour work weeks, I needed a doctoral program that would provide me with flexibility and become a valuable additional to my busy lifestyle, but yet not dominate it. Prior to enrolling at HMU, I spent many months comparing the various universities that offer doctoral programs via distance learning and conclude that HMU provided students the most flexibility in developing their individualized program of study and schedules. Once enrolled, my assigned Mentor offered outstanding guidance and allowed me the opportunity to design an individual program of study based on my specific interests and goals. I was able to schedule discussions with my tutors, determine class begin and end dates, and develop deadlines associated with my coursework based on my schedule and individual needs.
The curriculum at HMU, based on the Great Books of the Western World, challenged me to not only increase my knowledge on various subject areas, but also to expand my research methods and ability to analyze, compare and contrast key ideas and concepts. The coursework, which included a combination of individual study, discussions with tutors, and written essays, was challenging, thought provoking, and at times difficult, but always rewarding. My individual program of study focused on social science, with an emphasis on Democracy, Citizen, and War and Peace. The Great Books of the Western World, which were the foundation of my studies, contain key ideas and concepts that are just as important for today's world as when they were originally written. Studying the great authors of western civilization, such as Aristotle, Freud, Hamilton, and Rousseau, to name just a few, was very enlightening and helped me to meet, and exceed, my academic goals.
A key component of the doctoral program curriculum is the methodology of Shared Inquiry. The discussions with HMU's tutors, where students verbally outline their research and compare and contrast key ideas of the authors they are studying, were challenging, insightful, and thought provoking. HMU's tutors are always well prepared for discussions and provided me with an environment that nurtured my scholastic skills. During the discussions, I was encouraged to explore my own intellectual objectives and my ideas were always treated with respect. The freedom provided to students to express their thoughts and engage in meaningful dialogue is commendable. Through verbalizing my research and key ideas, the discussions helped me enhance my oral communication skills.
As I had been away from the academic world for many years prior to the commencement of my doctoral studies, I was concerned about the written essays that are part of the requirement for each course. In my chosen profession, I wrote on a daily basis but had not done any academic writing in a number of years. The portfolio evaluators offered fair, clear, and constructive guidance to help me improve my academic writing skills. Thanks to the staff at HMU, my academic writing skills flourished and the essays became an integral part of my learning experience.
An important aspect of HMU is the support provided by the administrative staff. All of my correspondence, emails, and other documents were processed in an efficient and timely manner. As a member of the military who received tuition assistance from the Veterans Administration, I could always count on the staff to be knowledgeable of current VA policies and for their assistance in filing the required forms.
I cannot say enough great things about HMU and its mentors, tutors, and staff. Thank you for a wonderful and fulfilling learning experience!”
G. Lockard, Doctor of Arts Graduate (2015)
"Students have a number of choices when it comes to deciding on a college to attend, and while my comments are intended for graduate-level students, they apply to all college-level courses. One of my first considerations when choosing Harrison Middleton University was the ability to select classes that appealed to my interests when designing a schedule of my doctoral level courses. I wanted to focus on literature, but also wished to develop a better foundation in philosophy, history, and political science. With the help of my mentor, I was able to design a schedule that allowed me to focus on literature, but also provided a solid foundation in philosophy, history and political science.
Harrison Middleton University is a Great Books institution and coursework is designed around the Great Books of the Western World. All work is performed based upon an analysis of the primary texts, which encourages students to interact with the text, their tutor, and the author.
A secondary concern when selecting a doctoral program was the ability to accommodate my class schedule with my daily responsibilities. Not only do students have the ability to tailor their classes, but they also have the ability to schedule classes at times that are convenient for them. Students set their own pace in reading and understanding their coursework, and then scheduling discussion with a tutor to complete their assignments. In a departure from traditional classroom methods, students schedule discussions with tutors on a one-to-one basis: this one-to-one time is invaluable in helping students to understand course material, and can’t be replicated in a traditional classroom setting.
Students are free to design end-of-class essays on any topic they choose, based on the work completed during the course. Essays are read, edited, and suggestions provided to improve content, if required; all done on a timely basis. The essay evaluators help students to focus their writing, as well as assisting students to develop an academic writing style.
Harrison Middleton provides quarterly discussions, on a number of topics, for students who wish to expand their knowledge in areas such as literature, history, natural sciences, philosophy and theology. The discussions are moderated by a discussion leader and feature from four to six participants who focus on textual analysis and engage in lively discussions on the meaning and merits of the text. In addition to the quarterly discussions, the University developed a film series discussion which utilizes films to enhance the meaning of texts. I have attended the film series on Oedipus Rex and Lincoln, and found the discussions to be lively and informative.
Having attended undergraduate and graduate classes at leading universities, I can honestly say that my experience at Harrison Middleton University provided me with a more rewarding educational experience than at these other schools. I wholeheartedly recommend the educational experience at Harrison Middleton University.”
P. Ponzio, Doctor of Arts Graduate (2015)
“HMU provided the perfect program for my needs and goals. The student is allowed substantial flexibility in guiding the specifics of the course of study. The tutors and evaluators are excellent. Discussions with the tutors are outstanding. The administration is efficient and effective. The original sources used are, of course, a significant part of the world’s best.”
J. Thurman, Doctor of Arts Graduate (2015)