Is the HBS CORe program worth it?
Last year I decided to pursue the CORe program offered by Harvard Business School Online. As I just finished my CORe program, I’m writing this article to help learners out there clear any questions that they might have. Hopefully, this will help to make an informed decision.
What is HBS CORe program?
CORe consists of three courses — Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. Here is an overview :)
How to apply for the CORe program?
If you are considering applying for this program, It’s important to find the objective and motivation on why you want to join the program. My main motivation for enrolling in CORe is to strengthen my foundational business knowledge and determine whether business school is a path I may want to pursue. Once you decide your “why”, HBS application asks for the same thing. The application process is very easy, and apart from giving the basic details about yourself, you are required to write an essay on “ why you’re motivated to take this course”.
CORe program classes are open throughout the year and there are two different speed settings available (12 weeks or 17 weeks).
After the application process, It took about 1–2 weeks to get the results and hear back from HBS. Once you get the acceptance for the CORe program, here is how the dashboard looks like. Yayyy, cleared the first step in the process!!!
Course Structure and Learning platform:
HBS online is unique compared to other online learning platforms mainly because of how it is a discussion-based learning model with real-world case study methods. The platform is extremely engaging and it doesn’t really feel like a virtual program. Usually in the course, it starts with a short video and then follows up either with a survey question or sometimes there would be a reflection that we will need to write, and because of this structure mainly I enjoyed the course and felt engaged all the time throughout the course. Watch the video below to understand more about the platform.
Try out this free 15 minute lesson for Negotiations course to get more idea about learning model. I tried this before taking CORe to get an experience of the platform and case study learning method offered by HBS.
The following is based on my experience with CORe, please make sure to get the latest information on grading from the HBS website.
Final course grades are based on the following three components, with the approximate weighting of each component:
- Your score on the CORe program final exam (~50% of final course grade),
- Your module quiz score average (~33.33% of final course grade) *For computing quiz score average CORe drops the lowest score in each of the three subjects and then average out the remaining ones*, and
- The quality of your required participation, i.e., in-course reflections, cold calls, and shared reflections (~16.67% of final course grade)
CORe Program grades are assigned on the following 3 different scales:
To pass CORe, you must:
- Demonstrate mastery of course content
- Satisfactorily complete all quizzes, exams, and required participation elements
Pass with Honors
To pass CORe with Honors, you must:
- Meet all requirements to pass CORe (referenced above)
- Demonstrate a strong level of mastery of course content
- Make strong contributions to the program through your engagement and participation
Pass with High Honors
To pass CORe with High Honors, you must:
- Meet all requirements to pass CORe (referenced below)
- Demonstrate a superior level of mastery of course content
- Make exemplary contributions to the program through your engagement and participation
How I Studied for CORe?
The first and foremost important thing in CORe is remembering deadlines. I was part of the extended core, and we usually have one module of one course due on Thursdays, and we were required to research on a topic and write an essay which they call “Core Connections” due on Fridays.
I’m a full-time working employee so I was able to spend only a few hours each day for CORe. On most days I used to be back from work around 6 pm and start studying for CORe around 7:30 pm until 11 pm with few breaks in between. I wake up for my work between 4:30 and 5:30 am depending on the day so definitely I had hectic work life. I used to get most of the studying done during weekends. It’s very difficult to estimate how much time each module takes because it depends on the course as well as it depends on what’s the level of knowledge you already have on each of these subjects. As I was studying Accounting and Economics for the first time, I definitely had to spend quite a good time understanding the concepts. I felt a little bit comfortable with business analytics because of my educational background.
One other important studying method that helped me was “Zoom calls” with members of my cohort. It was very informative and helps to clear any confusion with the concepts. I would definitely advise making friends and having discussions with them. Once you get admission, HBS creates a formal Facebook group. Not only discussing the business concepts but it’s always interesting to know more about their stories.
Due to the current pandemic situation, the final exam was to be given at home but otherwise, it is usually scheduled in one of the Pearson centers.
Challenges faced and Tips to overcome:
- Having to work on a few Saturdays and falling sick in the middle of the course made it difficult to give enough time for CORe.
- Unexpected derecho in the area that I live caused power cut for a week-long and lost internet due to that. It’s definitely challenging when you experience any unforeseen hurricanes or winter storms, etc.
- Right before my final exams, I had interviews lined up with 2 great companies and it was indeed challenging juggling between exams and interviews.
The reason I’m mentioning the above is to give heads-up that each one of you might face some type of challenges and I would highly suggest being prepared for it. I’m pretty sure my challenges were smaller compared to some of my friends in my cohort who were dealing with a lot of other issues, raising kids while working and studying CORe so one thing that helped me is to be always ahead in the course progress. As you can see in my above picture that I finished each of the modules at least a week before the deadline. Time management is the most essential skill required to gain the most out of the course. Having that buffer really helped me during the unforeseen roadblocks. It also helped me to gain some time at the end of the course before giving the final exam.
Exam Results :
We finished our exams on December 8th, 2020, and received results on January 19th, 2021 (after a long wait). After receiving the results, you will also get a soft and eventually hard copy of the diploma which looks like below.
I entered the program thinking Accounting would be so boring but I realized accounting is actually an art. At the end of the course, you will be able to start analyzing financial statements to see how well any business is doing. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny you spend and I highly recommend HBS CORe to anyone who is interested to learn the business concepts. Not only you learn the business fundamentals but they were backed by real world applications. Hearing the perspectives and problems faced by different professionals from small and large organizations across multiple industries — helped a lot in developing a holistic understanding of the material. It was an amazing experience!
After you finish CORe and pass successfully, you will part of the Official Harvard Business School Online group on Facebook as well as Linkedin where you get the opportunity to network with a lot of members from across the globe.
Thank you for reading and hope this helps learners out there to know more about HBSOnline CORe program.