• Nour Alhamwi

My Experience As an Online Student at SNHU

For most students, choosing a college and getting accepted represent one of the hardest things they have ever faced at the time. I knew, when facing those choices myself, what I wanted to study for a degree, but finding the right place was challenging. At the time, I was the mother of a gorgeous little 2-year-old girl, and my world revolved around her. I had to choose between going to college on campus—which meant my little one would be in daycare from morning to sunset, five days a week—or taking online classes so that I could stay close to my daughter as much as possible. Plus, I also had to consider that my husband and I were planning to relocate in a year. Writing down the pros and cons ultimately led me to choose online schooling, and with some help from my hubby and friends, I applied to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

SNHU offers over 200 online programs with an affordable tuition rate when comparing it to other accredited schools. The application process and the interview went very smoothly, and I got accepted!! Pretty soon after that, I got assigned to an advisor to help me create my schedule and register for classes. I was so excited to start a new chapter in my life.

I got accepted into the B.A. graphic design and media art program, and I chose marketing for my minor. The total credits required for the degree were 120, including 33 credit hours for the major and 18 for the minor. Due to the flexibility of online classes, I took some time off when I had my second child after a year of starting, so I finished my degree in 5 years and 3 months. Semesters were 8 weeks in length; each week had assignments and deadlines to work on, as well as a weekly online discussion within the group (18–25 students). I found most instructors and professors to be very engaging and supportive, and they seem to try their best to answer all questions through emails/phone calls. While the professors are very strict with their assignment due date policies, it probably helped with keeping all the students on track, especially since there are no traditional face-to-face interactions in online settings.

As I mentioned, I was assigned to an advisor after being accepted, but I eventually had two advisors throughout the years. The first was during my first year. After that, I was assigned to my favorite (I can say that, right?) supportive person, my advisor Alysia K. Personally, and as a mom, I am very independent, and I don’t like feeling like someone is holding my hand through things. My advisor got that and worked with me to create a course sheet, helped me register for classes, and always replied to my emails. Whenever I’m asked about how I figured out and navigated online schooling, my answer is always the same: “It depends on your advisor, and mine was the best!”.

In the program at SNHU, I expanded my knowledge about business, management, and marketing, and sharpened my skills in graphic design, of course. I also completed an internship for credits at a company called EpiFinder. I was registered in a class that was mainly for support where I shared my experiences week to week with others who were doing internships at the same time. My professor was also very helpful and supportive. We spoke several times and shared some thoughts. He always gave me great advice. Overall, the 12-week internship experience was a great learning period.

The one con about the online program is that I missed the opportunity to create friendships within my school and to put names to the faces of peers as a way to build a strong professional network for the future. Plus, classroom learning and having one-on-one time in person with the instructor would have also offered additional benefits, creating a dynamic that online classes just cannot capture.

In terms of how long it took me to finish school, I started in May 2014 and finished my last semester in August 2019. I was happy, proud, and excited to move to the next step and start my career. But I am incredibly thankful that I could finish my degree while moving from state to state, having a second child, and facing some personal challenges and situations in life. While I gained some design experience through volunteer work in non-profit organizations as a graphic designer while still in school, I was ecstatic and ready to start as a professional designer and grow in my field by the time my graduation came to fruition.

Is online schooling harder than studying on campus? Probably yes. Online schooling might not be for everyone, but I can attest to the fact that it’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to achieve a higher education while balancing other responsibilities and looking for better future opportunities.

What school did you go to? And how was your experience? I would love to hear about it. Share your thoughts in the comments!

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