UMass Dartmouth Online asked Women's & Gender Studies graduates Tari Sikoki and Denise Schultz (right) about their UMD online learning experience.
Here's what they said:
What drew you to the UMass Dartmouth online program?
Tari: I am an international student. I currently reside in Nigeria, and was here for the duration of the Women's Studies Online Certificate that I have just completed. I was drawn to the online program because of the ease and ability for me to earn this degree without having to move between continents.
Denise: I needed flexibility in coursework - when I started my daughter was in preschool only seven hours a week. I needed to be able to do all my coursework online, while still spending lots of time with my family. Besides the flexibility of the schedule, I was so excited to find an online Women's Studies major - that was designed for students like me, who already had amassed a large number of credits, but needed to finish their degree. It felt like divine intervention that I stumbled upon the program, and it has been life changing.
What about the online experience did you appreciate the most?
Tari: Aside from the obvious ease in travel, relocating and cost, I also appreciated how easy it was to get the work done at my own pace. Granted, there were deadlines and expectations. But for me, being able to sign onto the discussion boards at any time before the due dates to post or respond to posts was an added advantage. It meant I could interact with other students easier and more frequently than face-to-face courses. In addition, that "anonymity" made sharing and discussing difficult topics easier.
Denise: The flexibility of the program in terms of when you get your work done can not be understated. This is a huge plus. However, do not think an online program means less work. I firmly believe I have completed a heavier workload online because of the required readings and writing. This has made me a better student, and I yearn for more knowledge. The online program has allowed me to complete a bachelor's degree when I otherwise would not have been able to as the primary caregiver to my two children.
How would you characterize your educational experience?
Tari: I am very pleased with the overall experience. I was able to apply myself to the courses almost better than I expected, and my grades also prove that the experience was well worth it.
Denise: My educational experience at UMD has been wonderful. As an older student, returning to the classroom was a bit intimidating. I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find professors who truly cared about my learning experience, as well as making life long friends in the classes I have taken these past two years.
Did your view of online learning change at all after being a student in the online program?
Tari: My view of online learning definitely changed after this experience. I had my doubts in the past, but I am now a believer!
Denise: Yes, my view of online learning did change. I learned that you must always stay up to date with the coursework - if you fall behind it is very difficult to catch up again. I learned that it was important to supplement my online experiences with in-person experiences; for my Women's Studies major, attending conferences in my field has proven invaluable and enhanced my learning experience.
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