Experiences with Online School
Hi everyone! Kevin, one of the forum moderators, asked if I’d share a bit about my experiences with grad school. I originally started undergrad with the intention of physically attending classes, but a pretty bad episode of depression and generalized anxiety eventually convinced me to look into online school.
I enjoy being on campus and everything you’d associate with the quintessential college experience. When I left that all behind, I really felt like I was giving up, like I was settling for less than what people my age were getting from their own education. In the end, though, I know I made the right choice. I was living with my parents at the time, and was driving over two hours each day just to attend classes. It was taking an enormous physical toll on me, not to mention the emotional toll of my depression and anxiety. It took me a while to get used to online school, but it saves me so much time and energy; I honestly don’t think I could go back to face-to-face at this point in time.
I graduated with my B.A. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December 2017. The undergraduate psychology program was completely online, and whenever I had issues—whether it was finding textbooks or working with professors to figure out accessible alternatives to assignments—the disability services team was there to help. I had such a good experience at UWM that, when I decided to pursue a M.A. in clinical mental health counseling, I didn’t hesitate to look at online programs.
I started my M.A. program at Indiana Wesleyan University in January of this year. I had a much harder time finding a graduate program than I did with undergrad because I wanted it to be accredited. There are schools out there that are essentially scamming people by offering “fully online programs” without actually preparing you for the field you’re going into, and one way to tell the scams from reality is through accreditation. There were no accredited programs in my home state of Minnesota, so I had to look elsewhere. I eventually landed on IWU, a small, private university in Indiana.
I’ve had a great experience so far. The program is small, and the professors are still getting used to teaching via the internet, but IWU has a great disability services team. I have to attend two week-long residencies as part of the program, and IWU was incredibly accommodating this past June when I attended the first one, and worked with me to ensure my parents and I had everything we needed. The real test will be in a year or so, when I start my internship and begin working as a counselor under the supervision of a professional in the field. Disability services is going to help me find a placement willing to accommodate my disability. In the meantime, I’m working through the program part-time to keep myself from getting physically and mentally exhausted. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone the online route, and I’m excited to see where my program at IWU takes me.
Has anyone here tried online school? Do you prefer it to face-to-face classes, or do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits in your mind?