Online University
10 Students 10 Questions 10 Answers

Jody Galis

Jody Galis
I would advise online students to be prepared for the challenges of being a self-reliant learner. If you study online, you will need to make sure you read everything that is assigned to you because there is no room for slacking off in programs like mine. You also need to ask for help if you need it. You are only going to learn if you put in the effort.
Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Digital Design
Total Time Enrolled
3 years
  1. Are online schools just in it for the money?

    No, online schools are not just in it for the money, though some schools are certainly better than others. I know that for a fact because I have studied at 2 different online schools in the last several years. My experience with my current school, American Intercontinental University, has been wonderful. But before I enrolled there, I got my associates degree at Kaplan University, and I would discourage other online students from going there.

    To make sure an online school is legitimate, you should see if it is accredited and assess the kinds of resources that it offers its students. If you conduct a little bit of online research, you should be able to find out the status of a school’s accreditation. You should also make sure that the school you are considering will set you up for success. For example, one of the benefits of American Intercontinental University is that it provides us with an online library, which has links to relevant academic papers and all of the information we need to complete our homework assignments. In fact, part of the library is totally dedicated to ensuring student success. It offers webinars about time management and effective study habits.

    Finally, I know that American Intercontinental University isn’t just trying to make money because there are no hidden costs. All of my software and books are included in my tuition, so I know exactly how much I have to pay upfront. There are no secrets. And the school mails actual textbooks and software directly to my home. It is just like being on a physical campus, except that it is far more convenient since I don’t have to drop everything and leave my house when it is time for class.

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

    The pro of studying online is that you can complete your degree at your own pace and convenience. For example, American Intercontinental University makes our coursework and lectures available to us at any time, rather than forcing us to be in a specific building for a certain block of time like on a regular campus. All of the class lectures are recorded so that we can access them on our own time.

    Some of the cons of studying online are that it requires a very high degree of independence and self-motivation. In order to succeed in an online program, you have to be dedicated and organized. No one is there to tell you that your work is due. Instead, you are assigned a project at the beginning of the week and you have to be able to schedule your time around that assignment to get it done.

    When I was deciding which school and program I should attend, I had to think about how my own circumstances would affect my ability to pursue my education. When I applied, I was working full time, so I needed a bachelors degree program that would fit around my job and still allow me to be with my family.

    Another consideration was whether my books and my software would be included in my tuition. Since I am a digital design student, I need design suites like Adobe, which costs several hundred dollars if you don’t purchase it through your school. There are a lot of outside costs that can be associated with getting your degree, so I wanted to make sure those were covered. At American Intercontinental University, they were.

  3. Can you actually learn anything while studying online?

    Yes, you can learn a lot online if the program is set up to allow for some interaction with the teacher. My digital design program is very hands-on. The teacher walks me through the steps I need to do, but I create all of my designs by myself using the skills in web design and Adobe Photoshop that I have learned in my program so far. And since digital design happens entirely on a computer anyway, it makes sense to learn it online.

    I would advise online students to be prepared for the challenges of being a self-reliant learner, though. If you study online, you will need to make sure you read everything that is assigned to you because there is no room for slacking off in programs like mine. You also need to ask for help if you need it. You are only going to learn if you put in the effort to do so, which means that you need to utilize the teacher and any resources that your school provides.

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

    Having a degree from an online school will not affect your ability to get a job, because it holds the same value as a degree from a brick-and-mortar university. But to make your job search easier, I recommend looking into the career center at your school. American International University has a great career center that offers practical instruction on how to write resumes and cover letters. They help you to prepare for interviews, too. You should take advantage of these kinds of resources if they are offered at your school, because it is a tough job market right now in a lot of fields.

  5. Is online faculty any good?

    Online faculty can be very good. American Intercontinental University hires high-quality faculty that do all they can to help us succeed. For example, when I was falling behind in a class, my teacher not only noticed, she called me at home to ask how she could help me get through the class. She got online and walked me through some of the things that I needed to do. So I appreciate the faculty’s personal touch, but I am also impressed with their academic credentials. A lot of my teachers have masters degrees in their field, and some of them are even former American Intercontinental University students.

    The advisors at my school are excellent too. I was assigned a group of advisors and I can tell that they care about my success because they constantly check in with me to make sure that I am progressing through my program. If I fall behind, they make sure I have access to tutors. The faculty makes it so that the only thing that could hold you back from success is yourself.

  6. Are online degrees actually cheaper?

    It is hard to say if online degrees are cheaper than on-campus degrees because there are many factors that you have to take into consideration. These include what school you attend, what level of degree you pursue and what subject you study. Schools charge different tuition rates, but you also have to consider what kinds of things are included in the tuition, such as books and software packages. You also have to consider that tuition prices vary according to the level of degree you want. And finally, the subject itself matters. I would guess that a standard-issue business degree might be cheaper to earn online, but a more specialized degree, like digital design, will cost you more.

    In my case, I have had to take out student loans to pay for my degree, but the monthly payments are manageable. I would recommend that anyone who is considering online school take the time to talk with people at the financial aid office. If you do not qualify for financial aid from the government, there are other options like private loans and scholarships that your financial aid advisor can help you find.

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

    The lack of live student-faculty interaction is not an issue for me, because we do have live interaction options at American Intercontinental University. For instance, my digital design program incorporates a desk-sharing option, which means that the teacher can see your work and help you in real time. The desk-sharing sessions usually last for an hour, so we get one-on-one instruction from our teachers, just like in a physical classroom.

    Even when we don’t have live access to our teachers, they are never too far out of contact. They check their e-mails all the time, and they hold specific office hours for us to call or instant message them. I think that this amount of communication is somewhat unique to American Intercontinental University, because I found it difficult to communicate with people at Kaplan University. In fact, they forced me to withdraw from school after I got my associates degree because I couldn’t attend classes since I was very ill with cancer. When you are that sick, you can´t attend to anything, and I would have appreciated more understanding from that school.

  8. How do online classrooms work?

    Our online classroom uses both lectures and personal instruction to teach us the principles of digital design. Lectures are prerecorded so that we can access them at any time. Then the lecture material is supplemented by personal instruction like the desk-sharing sessions.

    We are also assigned a mixture of individual homework and group projects to provide us with the opportunity to gain practical design skills. In the higher level classes, you typically have 1 group project throughout the entire course. For example, my group just finished a project that involved writing up a mock contract for a hypothetical business, as if we were a freelance designer. I got together with my group members in a chat room and we each chose a part of the project to complete. Then we put our individual portions together and handed in the project. We are also assigned individual homework each week, and we are obligated to post on a discussion board too.

    One benefit to an online classroom is that the class itself is like a live chat session if you are able to attend the lecture when it is first aired. You can actually ask questions about the lecture since it is just a recorded video. The teachers respond in real time, like in a physical classroom, but you don’t have to interrupt the lecture at all.

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

    You do not have to be computer savvy at all to succeed in an online program. After my digital design coursework, I do consider myself to be pretty savvy with computers, but most programs will provide you with all of the software and programs that you need to use. Typically, the only skills you will need are those that almost everybody has, like how to browse the web, use instant messenger and check your e-mail.

    If you do run into a technical issue, most online schools have decent technical support to help you out. I had to use the tech department at American Intercontinental University once when I was having trouble downloading my Adobe software. I called them and they walked me through various steps to solve the problem.

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

    Yes, I have been able to make friends online through the daily interaction that my program requires. For example, we are constantly interacting with other students through the discussion board. And at American Intercontinental University, there is also a Virtual Commons, which is a place to network with others in your program. Many people give out their e-mail address and phone number, too.

    I don’t know a lot about the backgrounds of the other students in my class, but we get to know each other’s personalities through negotiating group work. In my program, all of the students are moved through the classes on the same track, so I have been working with the same group of about 15 people for the last 12 classes. Getting to know people is almost unavoidable since we work together so closely.

Get to know Jody

Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Digital Design
Expected Graduation
Total Time Enrolled
3 years


Jody Galis is pursuing her online Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Digital Design at American Intercontinental University. She studied online at Kaplan University to earn her Associate of Science in Applied Management in 2004.

A combination of personal circumstances led Jody to choose online school. As a single mother, the costs of daycare for her children were daunting. She has also dealt with a long-term illness that made it difficult to physically attend class on campus. After graduation, she hopes to use her bachelors degree to work as a web designer.