You can run, but you can’t hide—in online.
If you have never taken an online course, or have free floating anxiety about logging into a classroom, please read on. Some of the potential students I meet in information sessions, graduate school fairs, or speak with on the phone, have a huge block of fear when it comes to learning this way. At Granite State College (GSC), we offer two master’s degree programs: an M.S. in Leadership and M.S. in Project Management. We do offer a few graduate courses in Concord, Portsmouth, and Manchester - however, the majority of the Master of Science classes are often online.
Laura was an adult Granite State College student for several years, furiously working towards completing her baccalaureate degree while taking part time classes. She was a professional HR director, and GSC helped her get to where she wanted to be. She loved taking courses at GSC, and had taken them in all delivery methods - hybrid, weekend, evening, and online courses. I was delighted to meet Laura at a conference recently - her enthusiasm for lifelong learning was infectious. I thought she would be a great master's candidate for either the Project Management or Leadership program.
As she was nearing the end of her undergraduate career, the last course she needed to complete was Interpersonal Communication. It was a course offered online and she had every intention of taking it, even with its ironic online delivery. While telling me her story, I flashed back to my undergraduate days. I took Interpersonal Communication in a decade when online learning was not available. I quickly assumed it could only be a classroom course, learning the art and science of successful communication. I paused in my thoughts and was preparing for the worst. How could a college create this online? I prepared for a sympathetic reply.
As she continued her enthusiasm for (what I thought) was a pedagogical mish mash of course delivery gone wrong, I started to listen closer. Her family and friends thought she was making an error in judgment. "Don’t do it," they said. "You’re crazy." She took the course successfully and told me it was the best course she ever took. The posts were lively, deep, and thoughtful. She made friends with a number of people in the virtual classroom. “You can’t hide in an online learning platform. Students who are shy in a classroom can’t hide in online learning. You can also think about your posts, edit, and get your point across clearly.” Her sales pitch was right on queue. And, I know she is correct.
This brief encounter with Laura gives me more fuel and intelligence for the GSC graduate programs. I have chatted with potential students who feel the same way Laura’s friends and family did. The anxiety about getting a graduate degree online can be eradicated when you listen to Laura's story. She preferred her online courses. It was her time. She’d get up at 5:00 a.m. and start her coursework before the day got away from her. Laura is now applying to Master of Science in Leadership, and is very excited about the incredibly flexible, affordable, and relevant program. “It’s time to do it. And, I love that I can take it online.”