Virtual Classroom Earns High Marks from Adult Learners
By Shane Best
As online degree programs become increasingly popular, adult students are finally finding a convenient avenue to complete bachelor and master degree programs. Frustrating commutes, weekends away from the family, and campus parking problems are no longer an issue. Now education can be delivered directly to a personal computer, via the Internet.
The ease of finishing a long abandoned degree program is what attracted Starr Vermeulen to the University Alliance. The Alliance markets regionally accredited graduate and undergraduate degree programs for Florida’s Saint Leo University and Denver’s Regis University. Using Internet and multimedia technologies, students earn their degrees without ever setting foot on a university campus.
“As a single mother with a newborn, finishing up my college degree seemed unrealistic,” Starr said. “I work full time, and really couldn’t fit evening or weekend classes into my personal schedule. I also felt forty hours per week away from my daughter was enough.” That’s when Starr discovered the University Alliance, and realized going back to school was as close as her computer keyboard. Today, she is finishing up her bachelor’s degree on her own schedule, without disrupting precious time with her baby girl. “I am able to work, spend time with my daughter in the early evenings, then log on to my degree program when she’s asleep in the next room,” she said. “There is no costly babysitting, commuting, or long evenings on campus to deal with.”
Valerie Wendt put her college education on the back burner twenty years ago to start a family. Today she is a full-time product marketing manager and a Saint Leo University student, well on her way to earning a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. Valerie studies before work, logs on during her lunch hour, and studies at home in the evenings as well. “With raising a family and working full time, the thought of going back to school was a decision I had been putting off for some time,” Valerie said, “but Saint Leo made it easy for me to go back to school to finish my degree. The course work is challenging, but the ease of working on my degree on my own time has been both exciting and rewarding. I wish I had done this sooner!”
Online graduate degree programs are also growing in popularity. Through the University Alliance, Denver’s 120-year-old Regis University offers a regionally accredited MBA that can be completed in less than two years. Reputation, accreditation and convenience are all key factors career-minded individuals find in the Regis External MBA program.
As a supply department head for the US Navy, 30-year old Michael Reiners is responsible for buying the food to feed soldiers and sailors stationed in Yokohama, Japan. His upward mobility is directly dependent on his level of education, so earning an MBA is a necessity. “I’m especially impressed with the level of instruction,” remarked Reiners of Regis’ EMBA faculty, which includes award-winning professionals and Fulbright Scholars. “This is a real MBA we are working towards.” Another bonus is the flexibility of Regis’ distance learning program, which allows Reiners to maximize his study time. “I listen to tapes during my workout, watch videos at lunch, and type up my homework on the train,” he explained. “I go online during breaks at the office, and spend time reading at night.”
The University Alliance is able to bring regionally accredited degree programs to adult learners around the world in a high-tech, high-touch way. Each course is made up of sections capped at 15 students and one faculty member each. In addition to the section professor, each student is assigned an evaluating faculty advisor. Such a model ensures close and frequent interaction between students and faculty, unlike an on-campus situation where hundreds of students may compete for one teacher’s attention. Additionally, time-challenged and geographically-challenged professionals, as well as the oft-transferred members of the military, find the University Alliance degrees-at-a-distance are a convenient, flexible form of study which allows them to take the university directly into their home or office.
Through chat rooms and message boards, students and teachers interact in posting assignments, responding to questions, and learning about each other. Videotaped or streaming lectures and textbook reading supplement online assignments. All tests and quizzes are taken online, making it unnecessary to travel to a testing location or make arrangements for private proctoring of any exams. Furthermore, degrees earned online are the same as those earned on the university’s main campus.
You can learn more about degree programs through the University Alliance online. Classes begin every eight weeks. For more information or to download an application package, please visit the University Alliance online.