Online University
10 Students 10 Questions 10 Answers

Angelina Casarez

Angelina Casarez
You can learn online, but it takes a lot of discipline and determination. Before you go into an online program, you have to be aware that it is not the “easy way out” like some people think. In a traditional class, you have a teacher to remind you to submit your assignments, but online you have to police yourself.
Concentration
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Total Time Enrolled
2 years
Age
27
  1. Are online schools just in it for the money?

    I can’t make a sweeping generalization about all online schools, but I would certainly say that my school, Southern New Hampshire University, is a legitimate school that is not in it just for the money. I went to several online schools before I transferred to Southern New Hampshire University, and a lot of them have hidden fees that are tacked on after you agree to go to school. But here, I know exactly what my bill is and I appreciate that. At this school, I truly feel like I am getting the education that I am paying for.

    When you are looking for a quality school that offers online classes and distance learning, you need to think about accreditation. That is the first thing to look for because you need to be sure that the degree you earn will be considered valid anywhere you go.

    It is also very important to consider certain criterion such as the availability of student resources. In my case, I knew immediately that I wanted to attend Southern New Hampshire University based on the personal connection that I felt with my advisor. She is always available to chat with me about any issues that I think need to be addressed. I can tell that she cares about me and that inspires me to put my trust in the school.

  2. What are the pros and cons of studying online?

    The pros of studying online are the convenience it offers and that I am able to study at the pace I set for myself. I appreciate that I am able to tweak my study schedule as needed so that I can focus on raising my family.

    One con to online education is that you often experience a significant delay in response to your questions. I don’t think that is the teacher’s fault, though. That is just the way online communication works. In a normal class, when a topic is difficult to understand, you have the ability to ask your question right then and there and you receive an answer immediately. Whereas when I have a question in this format, I have to e-mail my teacher and he might not get back to me until the following day.

    All things considered, I knew that online school was the best option for me because I need to be able to keep working in order to help provide for my family. Online school is the quickest and most convenient route to finishing my education.

  3. Can you actually learn anything while studying online?

    Of course you can learn online, but it takes a lot of discipline and determination. Before you go into an online program, you have to be aware that it is not the “easy way out” like some people think. In a traditional class, you have a teacher to remind you to submit your assignments, but online you have to police yourself.

    People tend to look down on online education, but I think that this style helps me learn better since I am a visual learner. I have a hard time following a lecture that is only delivered audibly, but if I do the reading myself, I can see the information, which helps me digest it better.

    Another way that online school aids the learning process is through promoting more honest discussions between peers. In a traditional classroom discussion, everybody is staring at you when you speak and it can feel like a very high-pressure situation. Online discussions eliminate that anxiety, which allows students to be more comfortable expressing their ideas openly.

  4. How difficult is it to get a job with an online degree?

    Based on my husband’s experience, I don’t think that having online degree will make it significantly harder to get a job. He had some previous experience working in the investment sector, but he recently graduated from Ashford University with an online degree. After completing school, he was able to get a better job within a month. I think that the current economic climate means that it can be difficult to get a job with any kind of degree, whether it is from an online school or not. But any degree is better than nothing.

    Some people think I will have a hard time with employment later, but I already have a job that I expect to keep after I finish my degree. I work for the Department of Defense in a program that they sponsor called the Student Career Experience Program. It allows me to gain on-the-job experience in my field, which is communications, while getting my education.

    Certain employers still believe that online degrees are less valuable than traditional degrees, so I think the best way that students can offset that negative perception is to start the job search early. You will have to seek out internships and companies that are willing to hire online students.

  5. Is online faculty any good?

    Yes, the online faculty members that I have worked with at Southern New Hampshire University are excellent. A lot of my professors have their doctorate degrees and all of them have a masters degree at minimum. In addition, the majority of them have several years of work experience in the field that they teach.

    Even though my professors don’t see their online students in person, we aren’t just numbers to them. They care about each of us. In my opinion, online faculty is more approachable than offline faculty because they understand the challenges that life throws at us. They are aware that school is not the only priority in our lives.

    Even when I have had difficulty in a class, my professors have put in extra time to help me. For example, math is not my best subject. I struggle with math, so I make a point to check in with my teacher often to make sure that I am on the right track. My professor always responds. In every case, I have found that as long as I am communicative, my professors will make time to give me extra help when I need it.

  6. Are online degrees actually cheaper?

    My online degree is no cheaper than going to a traditional school. I do my schooling through Southern New Hampshire University’s distance learning option, so I pay the same tuition as a student actually living at that school would. All students pay a bit less than $1,000 per course. I made sure to compare the costs at many different institutions and I found out that my tuition costs less money than a lot of the purely online schools that I researched.

    Even so, college is not cheap. I am paying for school with a combination of government-subsidized student loans and a Pell grant. My school walked me through the process of obtaining financial aid through the FAFSA, which is the federal application for aid. I appreciate that the school made sure I had all my ducks in a row, so to speak, before I started class. And while I know it will take a long time to pay off my student loans, I view it as an investment in my future.

  7. Doesn’t the lack of live student-faculty interaction during class detract from the overall learning experience?

    I don’t think the lack of live interaction between teachers and students affects my learning very much. I am able to watch lectures on video, so of course I don’t verbally participate in class. But we have a discussion forum that was created specifically for us to post our questions and concerns, so that need was foreseen and the school provided a solution. And if I am especially lost, I can always e-mail the professor directly for clarification.

  8. How do online classrooms work?

    Online classrooms are similar to traditional classrooms, but the pace is faster and we only communicate over the Internet. Right now, I am taking 2 courses that are 8 weeks in length. Since the courses only last a couple of months instead of a full semester, it seems like we always have assignments due.

    Usually, our assignments consist of a reading assignment from our textbooks. After we complete the reading, we post our thoughts on the virtual class discussion board. We are assessed frequently via online quizzes in order to ensure that we are staying on track and keeping up with the required work.

    I would describe our curriculum as challenging but manageable. That is exactly how I want school to be for me. While I don’t want it to totally take over my life, I believe that the point of education is to help me retain knowledge that I can use in my job after I graduate, so I don’t want it to be too easy. I want to be required to think in new ways.

  9. How computer savvy do you have to be to study online?

    I would not say that a person has to be computer savvy to succeed in an online classroom. All you need are very basic computer skills, such as the ability to compose a Word document. The only software that a typical distance learner needs to know how to use is the Microsoft Office suite. I also took a graphic design course that required me to purchase Adobe Photoshop and Design Illustrator, but that isn’t typical for all majors.

    Problems with technology has not been an issue for me, but Southern New Hampshire University provides a link to technical help that students can access 24 hours a day just in case. My school also posts technology updates on Facebook when there are issues with our user interface, which is called Blackboard. Generally, if Blackboard is going to be down for maintenance, we know about it several days beforehand so that we can plan ahead to deal with the inconvenience. And if it does go down unexpectedly, the teachers know what is going on and are understanding of the dilemma.

  10. Can you make friends in an online school setting?

    Yes, I have been able to make friends through online school, although it isn’t as easy to bond with people when you can’t see them in person. Now that I am in my senior year, there are several other communications majors who have been in every one of my classes, so we have gotten to know each other somewhat. We chat on Facebook and through our discussion forums while we are working on homework.

    I would advise online students to take every opportunity to communicate with your classmates. It might feel a little awkward at first, but a good start is to read everyone’s biography at the start of class. Maybe you have something in common that you wouldn’t have expected which will help you to spark a conversation. Just keep in mind that you have to be the one to reach out.

Get to know Angelina

Concentration
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Expected Graduation
-
Total Time Enrolled
2 years
Age
27

Biography

Angelina Casarez is in her senior year at Southern New Hampshire University. She is studying to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Communication through distance learning. After graduation, she plans to pursue her masters degree in order to secure a position working for the government.

Angelina enrolled in a distance learning program so that she could continue to work for the Department of Defense, where she is currently employed. Additionally, she is able to spend more time with her husband and 2 children by learning remotely.