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My Review of SNHU - Application through Term 1

Updated on December 10, 2013
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Introduction:

Going back to College to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in History has long been a dream of mine, but I began to doubt if I would ever find the correct opportunity. It seemed like working a full time job combined with working independently at a part time job, maintaining a household and contributing to my marriage ate up any free time I had left, and I started to think that going back to school was simply not in the cards for me. Ever since entering into the accounting workforce, I toyed with the idea of furthering my career by obtaining a degree in accounting – but as much as I love my job; it wasn’t a field I had a true passion for. I was just good at it. I started seeing more and more advertisements for schools that allowed off-site learning, and more commercials for online education. So many schools seemed more like businesses where a student was little more than a number and an opportunity to make a profit. Little did I know that everything was going to change.

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Choosing SNHU:

One evening, I saw an advertisement on television for Southern New Hampshire University. Like many other advertised schools, the only way to get actual information about the school and its programs was to provide your contact information. For whatever reason, I decided to bite the bullet and take my chances with the result. I could no longer sit by and whine about not getting an education in a field I truly loved if I was unwilling to take the necessary step towards making my long-held dreams a reality. I was certain that my past experiences would repeat themselves and I was setting myself up for a barrage of annoying, telemarketing-like calls. Nevertheless, I grit my teeth, crossed my fingers and hit the submit button. I hoped for the best while mentally preparing myself for the worst.

Almost as if it were on cue, my cell phone rang within five minutes. I saw that the number was listed in New Hampshire. Instead of simply ignoring the call like I had for other schools in the past, I decided to make the effort and answer it. I’m not generally a phone person, and I’d much rather have information at my fingertips to read at my leisure than try to make awkward small talk with a stranger, so picking up that call was a lot more difficult than you may expect. The voice on the other end, however, did their best to put me at ease. They informed me that they received my request for information and they had some follow-up information for me and they wanted to ask me a few questions. They were conversational and pleasant and they delivered their information quickly, politely and professionally. They gave me some background information about the school and asked questions about my interest in pursuing a history degree. I gave them permission to email me, thanked them and they ended the call.

Once I looked over the information that they sent over and spent a week or two independently researching the school, reading student and faculty reviews and discussing the possibilities with my wife, we decided mutually that it was a good time and a good opportunity for me to move forward and see what happens. It was not a decision made on a whim by any means, but it was one that has positively impacted my life and opened up possibilities for my future.

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The Application Process and Financial Aid:

Unlike most traditional on-campus universities, there was no lengthy application process to complete or essays to write. There was, however, a lengthy search for documentation and endless forms to sign – but that’s to be expected at any school. The admissions team at SNHU made the application process as simple as possible and it all could be completed via fax or online. They requested the transcripts from my previous colleges for me and they walked me through the required documentation. They made a point to keep me updated at every single stage from my first call through my acceptance letter and the registration for my first course. Although there were a lot of forms to fill out and documents to provide and signatures required, it was pretty much par for the admissions course, and it wasn’t time consuming at all. AS the admissions process moved forward, my admissions counselor also helped guide me through the financial aid process and it was easy to either find the answers to my questions online or to call and receive answers quickly and effectively.

One of the biggest hurdles in deciding to go back to school was the financial obligation that it would entail. It’s probably a concern that a lot of adult learners share. I was worried that I would have to pay my tuition out of pocket and even though I make a decent living, there isn’t a lot of disposable income just lying around. Fortunately, SNHU and my admissions counselor made the process easy for me, and I wound up getting qualified for a student loan with a competitive interest rate. The university worked with me to make sure my FAFSA was correct and even made corrections on my behalf. Shortly after receiving my acceptance letter, I received my financial aid award letter as well. I was all set to start my first term. My admissions counselor provided a comprehensive program evaluation which clearly showed the classes I needed to take in order to obtain my degree, she walked me through the credit transfer and evaluation from my previous college work and she even registered me for my fist class after giving me a few options to choose from. Once all of those steps were complete, she introduced me to my new academic advisor who would walk me through my first few terms. At this point, I was truly ready to being my journey.

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Predictable Pros and Cons

Pros:

-incredibly attentive advising and admissions staff

-quick responses

-the entire process was relatively simple and straightforward

-variable and easy office hours

-convenient for those who work full time

Cons:

-LOTS of phone calls from the advisors; expect to be contacted almost once a week to check in

- some ambiguous instructions for class work, and the professor sometimes knows as much as you do

Term 1:

Southern New Hampshire University’s distance/online learning campus is considered to be accelerated education. Each term lasts approximately two months, whereas a traditional college semester lasts for a little over four months. The upside of this accelerated learning program is that if you’re required to take a difficult class or one that you don’t particularly enjoy, it’s over in eight short weeks. The downside is of course that students have to acclimate to a new course, a new professor and a new set of classmates very quickly in order to keep on-target and navigate the course requirements effectively.

For my first term at SNHU, I decided to take Introduction to Humanities at the sophomore level (designated as a level 200 course). Our textbooks are all online, and our weekly material is formatted as a learning module for each week. Each module contains an introductory quiz to test the level of knowledge a student already has (which is ungraded), the text itself, videos and transcripts, flashcards, quizzes and games within the module itself to test material retention and each module can be downloaded as a PDF and a summary is available for download as well. Once a student completes the module, they have two attempts at the weekly quiz.

In addition to the learning modules that include the textbook and learning material, all students are required to participate in the class discussion based on weekly prompts provided by the course professor. Each student has to create their own discussion thread based on the prompt for the week and also post a replay to the posts of at least two other classmates. These discussions allow students to apply what they’ve learned immediately, ask questions and increase their level of comprehension and retention of the learned material.

My humanities course also had two papers to complete – one at the end of week five, and the other (considered to be the final project) due at the end of week seven. While the papers were challenging, they were also interesting and they really put the material that I learned throughout the course to work.

The professor was incredibly active in the forums and was always quick to answer questions or provide clarification. He had a great sense of humor and graded fairly. The only downside was that he was unable to provide detailed feedback for each student and I often was unsure of what I lost points over or why I didn’t receive full marks for my participation in the discussions or on the projects – or what I could do to improve for the next time.

Overall, my first course was interesting and it made me feel excited for future courses to come. I’m glad that I went with a class that I was somewhat familiar with and not one totally new or foreign to me. I have a feeling that I would have had difficulty finding the courage to continue had my first class been an overwhelmingly negative experience. Thankfully, that was not the case. With the end of my first term within my sight, I’m looking forward to seeing what new challenges my next course will bring and what new things I will learn as a result.

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Conclusion

There are dozens of options out there when shopping for a new school, and I’m sure that all of them have their pros and cons. I’m glad that I chose SNHU. I am able to connect with my peers around the country, challenge myself, learn and achieve an important educational milestone on my career path. Although it’s been challenging and stressful, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, and I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish in the upcoming terms to come.

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