Distance Learning: The Student Perspective

Reprinted from: Princeton Review.com (http://www.princetonreview.com/cte/articles/distance/distance_student.asp)

Linda Brown Holt completed a Master of Arts in humanities through California State University at Dominguez Hills in 1993. Below, she describes her experiences with completing a degree, without campus attendance, through the use of correspondence study:

"On several occasions in my thirties, I attempted to earn a graduate degree by commuting to a campus and taking classes. However, with a career, family responsibilities, and volunteer activities, I could not manage the long commutes and late hours. I knew distance education offered the solution I needed, but like many adults, I wanted to make sure the program I chose was of the highest quality and met my own academic, personal, and professional goals.

"In the early 1990s, I was very happy to discover the Master of Arts in Humanities External Degree Program at California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSU-HUX). The CSU-HUX program was exactly what I was looking for: a well-rounded, academically impeccable program that allowed me to expand on my knowledge of the humanities while focusing in on an area of special interest (in my case, philosophy). The program was flexible, but I was never coddled or spoon-fed education. In fact, I worked harder and had more direction and guidance from faculty than I did in some of my more traditional undergraduate classes many years before. At the end of each class, which followed the traditional college semester model, I had a sense of accomplishment and mastery. Several of the final papers I wrote for courses were subsequently published in a journal.

"At the time, CSU-HUX offered what it termed 'parallel instruction.' While my professor was teaching graduate students in a classroom in California, I sat in my living room in New Jersey following a detailed syllabus, critical readings, and assigned texts. I was able to communicate frequently with my professor by phone or mail (today, it would be email) and had numerous written assignments, which were always returned with instructive and sometimes motivational comments to help me stay on course. And because I chose a public university, the cost of my education was very affordable.

"In about two and a half years of part-time study, I graduated with an MA from California State. The CSU-HUX program stimulated my mind, put me in touch with exciting faculty who challenged me and helped me think in new ways, and gave me an unmatched sense of achievement. Today, while continuing to work full-time, I am also a doctoral student in a classroom-based program at Drew University, one of the finest private liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. Using the knowledge I gained at CSU-Dominguez Hills and Drew, I am developing expertise that I can apply in a second career.

"Clearly, there is a place for both distance and classroom-based education in our lives. Thanks to CSU-HUX, I have had the best of both of these wonderful worlds."

This article was excerpted from Dr. Jerry Ice and Dr. Paul Edelson, Complete Book of Distance Learning Schools: Everything You Need to Earn Your Degree without Leaving Home ISBN: 0375762043, Paperback, 368pp, 2001, Random House Information Group.