Champlain College Online Student Stories: Vanessa

Vanessa enrolled at Champlain after a twenty-year hiatus from higher education. Finishing her undergraduate degree was a long-held personal goal, and she recognized that there would be more professional opportunities open to her once she had a degree.

She considered other schools, but a few factors led her to choose Champlain. The first was that she was already working in the healthcare field, so the degree program was a big draw for her. Another factor was the ability to take classes online, which was important to her as a professional who wished to continue working full-time while pursuing her education.

Above all, though, the biggest draw for coming to Champlain was the flexibility the degree program offered her. She appreciated the accelerated pace of learning and the way courses are broken into one-week blocks of time, so that the entire term, including course expectations and education goals, is mapped out clearly from day one. She also found the course discussion boards, and the fact that she could post at any time of day or night, was a true benefit to her learning, making it much easier to fit schoolwork into her busy schedule.

Balancing her other commitments with her schoolwork was a challenge, but over time Vanessa learned the importance of designating specific pockets of time for each important activity to make sure there was space for everything. She was able to carve out time for taking classes and completing assignments, spending time with family and friends and, of course, fulfilling her work responsibilities. While there were certainly periods of time that felt more crowded than others, the drive to learn and the way the classes were designed helped her push forward to completion. 

  
"To anyone considering getting a degree at Champlain, I would say do it! Go back to school and get the degree. It's well worth it."   

  

Going into her degree program, one of the things Vanessa was most curious about was interaction with course professors, and how that would work in a completely online environment. The first class she took felt different than what she was used to, and what she'd experienced in prior, on-campus educational experiences. However, she quickly got used to the online mode of communication, and she found all of her professors to be very accessible and available. Soon, her communication with both professors and fellow students began to feel completely natural, and she got to know them as well as she would have had she been interacting with them in-person--she says the classes were filled with humor and personal stories, and it was almost as though she was sitting in a brick-and-mortar building with them.

While there were many people who she connected with over the course of her time at Champlain, she felt particularly supported by two individuals in particular, her advisor, Janet Morrison, and the Director of the Health Care Administration Program, Michael Zemany. Both of them were able to take time with her personally, understand her goals, and show her how the program could help her achieve them.

At the start of her time at Champlain, Vanessa was 100% certain she would only be pursuing her bachelor's degree. However, after experiencing how the classes worked and being encouraged by her Champlain advisor, she was motivated to look beyond an undergraduate degree. She realized how far a master's degree could take her in her career, so she applied, and was accepted, to the Master's in Health Care Administration program.

Going back to school gave Vanessa confidence in her abilities and skills. While she already had hands-on, real-world experience in healthcare administration through her day-to-day work life, she appreciated the theoretical grounding that her coursework provided, and found it beneficial to be able to both compare and tie the two together to expand her knowledge. The confidence she gained through her classes allowed her to stretch outside her comfort zone and look ahead to the next step in her career, instead of simply staying where she already was. This resulted in her pursuing new dreams and, eventually, receiving a promotion at work.

Being a student at Champlain has changed Vanessa in many different ways. She feels more confident in herself and more comfortable analyzing information and offering informed opinions on it, and she believes that having a degree is part of what lets her go into a room and do that.

Vanessa's advice to anyone considering a degree program at Champlain would be: "Do it! Go back to school and get the degree. It's worth it!"