THE INTERNET! What a wonderful thing, right?! We can Google anything we want to know and get a fairly accurate answer in less than five seconds. We can Skype with friends around the world! We can keep in touch with everyone and know what they had for breakfast via status updates. This is so great! The internet has become particularly important to me this past year. I decided to start my journey through graduate school. Today, I’m here to tell you the about the start of my journey in online graduate school, why it works for me, and what I’ve learned so far.
So a little about myself and my educational background: I graduated from a really small private school in Central New York in May of 2014. I got my degree in Inclusive Elementary Education, which is a dual degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. The school was great! It was small and it had a really tight community. The professors really cared about our personal lives and succeeding in their classes and beyond. I knew that I wanted to go straight onto grad school. I applied to SUNY schools and went through the process of trying to figure out where I was going to fit best. These schools had great programs but the thought of going to college and sitting through more classes really caused me to have a lot of anxiety. I thought about taking a semester off, but knew that it would be difficult for me to pick back up where I left off. One day, my prayers were answered. My friend in my major mentioned that she got into this school called Canisius and it was an online program. I checked it out, did the quick and easy application process and was accepted a few weeks before graduation. Zip! Zap! Boom! Today, I am in my second semester at Canisius working on my Master’s in Literacy Education. It is the first time I have done online classes and I am loving it.
Here are some discoveries I have made while doing an online program:
1. Structure and Deadlines: When I first talked about doing online classes everyone seemed to have this relaxed response to it that usually said, “Oh great! You’ll get to make your own deadlines and work when you have time….” That is partly true. You do get to work around your own schedule, which is great! If you work, you can just hop on after work and get work done. But, there ARE deadlines. I don’t think an online program would work well without deadlines. You can’t just work on all your work at the end of the semester and expect to do well. I personally need the deadlines or else I try to do too much work all at one time. You know exactly what you have to do each week and you can easily schedule it around your own schedule.
2. Email Communication: While taking on campus classes, you see your professors at least every other day. But in online classes, you potentially never see your professor. Because of this, it is VERY important to check your email everyday and to stay in contact with your professors.
3. Teaching Yourself: It can be difficult to stay motivated if you aren’t dedicated to the fact that you have to teach yourself for most of the material. Some of the professors make presentations with voice incorporated and you can go through it as if you were sitting in class with them, except in the comfort of your own house, at your own pace. But other professors just provide you with materials that you have to read through in order to learn it and apply that knowledge. Personally, I really like that I can take charge of my own education and go at my own pace. The professors are always there to ask questions through email as well, which may be easier for people who are shy to ask questions in class.
4. Location and Comfort: This is my favorite part of online college courses. I can wake up, make a cup of tea, turn on my computer and do my school work in my pajamas if I feel like it. There isn’t the requirement to show up to class with your hair brushed. Another great thing is if I’m awake at 2 am because I can’t sleep, I can get on my computer and just start on some school work. There is no set time and place that you need to do your classes. I think that makes it pretty magical.
5. Strengthens Online Skills, Communication, and Networking: Within online classes, you connect with professors and other students in an online forum. It really strengthens your knowledge about the internet and what is available for you to utilize. It gives you a chance to do some networking too. Students come to do online programs from all over the country. You may meet someone you have something in common with or someone you can talk to to get more information about your career field. It may not be the face to face friendships and interactions that you are used to, but it really helps you learn to communicate on the internet.
As I continue my online coursework, I’m sure I will learn so much more. If you take an online class, what have you learned and what is your favorite part? If you are thinking about online classes, what would you like to know more about?
Thanks for reading Griffs! Stay Golden!