Getting a degree is something that she has wanted for several years but has always found a reason to put it off, such as not having the money or time. She recently decided that if it was something she really wanted, she needed to do something about it.
Because of her busy lifestyle she decided to get an online degree. To research her college choice, she talked with others who had attended online courses and made phone calls to potential colleges. The most important factors in making her decision were (1) accreditation, (2) interesting courses, (3) cost, and (4) availability of financial aid. She chose Kaplan University because it "has the most overall to offer students." In addition to classes, she said that Kaplan has clubs, honor societies, tutoring and even people to edit academic papers.
Ms. Williams described the enrollment process as "quite easy" but long. She said that her advisor sent her a list of step for enrollment:
- Obtain a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- Enroll in Kaplan
- Complete the FAFSA
- Take an assessment test
- Sign up for classes
- Obtain all required software
- Complete an orientation
Her orientation began with videos that explained the layout of the various pages she would access as a student. Then she sat in on a welcome seminar and participated in a class through a message board. Lastly she completed a sample homework assignment and a sample examination.
To pay her tuition, Ms. Williams obtained a small grant and took out loans. She hopes that the looming student loan bill will serve as a motivator to work hard toward obtaining a good job.
Ms. Williams is working on a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Human Services. At her current rate of attendance she expects to earn her degree in three and a half years. Currently she is taking two courses per term. Each term lasts ten weeks. She may try to add an additional course per term if it she feels she will be able to keep up with the coursework.
When she first began college, Ms. Williams said that she was very nervous. She was concerned about being able to keep up with her schoolwork while continuing her other activities, such as work, taking care of her home and child, and her volunteer work. It had also been many years since she had had to study. However, once she began classes her fears subsided. She has done well academically and has enjoyed her classes. She said that it helps that she has a very supportive family.
Image provided by Johnna Williams. All rights are retained by her.