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  • Online Master’s Degree? Well, Why Not?

    Wednesday, August 07, 2013

    Online Master’s Degree? Well, Why Not?

    August 7, 2013

    By: Jaime Davis, Drexel University Online student (M.S. in Higher Education program)


    Whenever I tell anyone my graduate program is offered solely online, I get one of a few select responses. Sometimes it’s just a polite, “Oh really? That’s interesting.” Or I’ll get an eyes-bugged-out-of-their-heads surprised look, as if they have no idea what the word online means. But, worst of all, I’ll get the jokes.

    I’m not going to lie; all of the above responses irk me a tiny bit. Okay, maybe more than a bit. I’ve taken graduate coursework the more “traditional” way, and now online. In my experience, online doesn’t equal easier. It doesn’t mean less of a degree. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ve experienced more challenges in an online program, from networking with professors and students, to managing time, assignments and deadlines, to navigating the sometimes treacherous technical waters. The simple truth is that I have never worked harder in the classroom than I have in Drexel’s “virtual” ones. And I’ve never felt like I learned as much as I have since I began my studies at Goodwin.

    I’m learning about my discipline from a practical perspective. I’m learning about myself: how I work with other people given the nature of our online courses, how I best can manage my time and responsibilities, and how I overcome challenges and stress. Stress has been a key component through my three terms so far. It can be harder to bounce off frustrations and vent when you only know your classmates from discussion posts and the occasional Wimba Pronto chat. Consistently overcoming the challenges of an online program has helped me realize I am capable of more than I ever thought.

    In addition, I’m able to study with a variety of professors with various backgrounds and perspectives who hail from a number of different universities. And my fellow students are amazing. They come from different parts of the country, and from other countries. The diversity of our backgrounds offers a variety of different ideas to flourish within courses, often electrifying class discussions.

    I guess I need to come up with a standard response whenever someone acts surprised that I’m pursuing a master’s 100 percent online. Something short, sweet and to the point, I suppose. How about, “I couldn’t ask for anything more – online or not.”

    Jaime Davis is an online student in the M.S. in Higher Education program at Drexel University’s School of Education. She earned a B.A. in film and media arts from Temple University in 2002 and then moved to Los Angeles to work in film production. She returned to the East Coast to shift her career to higher education, and accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is now associate director of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology.

    (Photo of Jaime Davis courtesy the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology at University of Pennsylvania)

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