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    Adapting to Life Outside Our Home With SMA

    I once heard a joke that a woman’s mind is like an Internet browser that has 1000 tabs open and running at once. I laughed at the time, but came to realize that if I didn’t actually feel like this before hearing the short acronym “SMA,” I most certainly do now.

    I spend much of my time pre-planning and thinking of possible problems that we may run into because of the kids’ diagnoses. I think many other SMA parents do this as well. Prior to our lives with SMA, we didn’t realize just how inaccessible the world is to those who are differently-abled.

  • This topic has 3 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 1 month ago by DeAnn R.

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      • #14034
        Brianna Albers
        Keymaster

        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?

      • #14050
        Kevin Schaefer
        Keymaster

        Thanks for sharing Brianna. I graduated from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a B.A. in English. While I took mostly in-person classes and was active in various student organizations, I did find online courses to be helpful as well. Taking one during a particularly busy semester made it easier for me to balance my schedule and have time to do everything. I also took some during summer sessions.

        I’m glad it’s worked out for you, and I’ll be interested to hear how your internship goes when you reach that point. Were you able to do any internships when you were an undergraduate?

      • #14051
        Ryan Berhar
        Keymaster

        I’m glad that has worked out for you, Brianna. I haven’t had any formal education beyond high school. I was trained to write by a mentor—a path I’d absolutely recommend. I haven’t taken any in-person classes, because when I visited  the local community college, they didn’t have the necessary accommodations for me. I haven’t taken any online classes since high school, because my experience (I do want to emphasize this is just my own experience) with them was terrible. I took a few in high school, and I had zero support from anybody. There was no teacher involvement. I think the teacher was in Florida or something and was completely useless. This led to me being unwilling to consider online classes again. However, I have heard nothing but positives about them from everyone else, so I’m guessing I just had a bad experience for whatever reason.

      • #14852
        DeAnn R
        Keymaster

        More and more it seems like online is becoming a popular option in general.  When I went to college I did a mix, but the majority of classes were on campus.  I’m glad I did it that way, but it’s nice there are options for everyone.

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