“What should I expect as an online student?”
“Can I get hands-on, practical learning in an online course?”
“How will I feel connected and supported online?”
As a program manager for WPI’s online graduate programs, I hear these three questions more than any others. If you’ve been thinking about grad school and think online is the right fit, you may be asking yourself the same things. So let’s break it down, question by question.
What should I expect as an online student?
One word: flexibility. In an online graduate program, you have 24/7 access to your material. Need to participate in a class discussion for credit, but it’s the middle of the night? No problem. Want to watch that lecture again, to make sure you really understand it? It’s right there at your fingertips, any time of day.
Can I get hands-on, practical learning in an online course?
One of the biggest misconceptions about online learning is that it’s all about the abstract, with none of the concrete, because you aren’t in a physical classroom. In the age of the Internet, this is the furthest thing from the truth!
There are now so many ways to interact with your professor and classmates: discussion boards, case studies, group projects, simulations, and other collaborative approaches that engage all parts of your brain in the material. Plus, thanks to these tools, you’ll learn to run meetings and manage projects remotely: skills that are essential in today’s increasingly global economy.
How will I feel connected and supported in an online program?
You’re not an island, and you shouldn’t feel like one in your online program. The nice thing about online graduate school is that you’ll have classes with students like you: other working professionals who are motivated to expand their minds and advance their careers. You’ll have the chance to learn from their on-the-job experiences, and they’ll learn from you, too.
At WPI, we also understand what it’s like to get back into the education game after being away. We know your needs are different from an 18-year-old leaving home for the first time. That’s why we have a Student Success Team. You’ll get the information and guidance you need, every step of the way: from application to graduation. You are our favorite kind of student, and we’re here to help!
Have a question about online grad school?
Leave it in the comments below. It may just show up in my next "Ask Amanda" blog!
About the guest blogger
Amanda Keighley has worked at WPI for 6 years, with the last 4 years focusing on WPI's online graduate programs. Previously, she worked in an array of industries from high tech, consumer goods, and publishing, where she worked with clients and conducted market research and analysis, strategic planning, and product launches. Amanda holds a Master of Public Administration from American International College and a BS in Management from Bridgewater State University. When she's not working, you can find Amanda cooking or outside running, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her family.