Kristen Batista ’17 loved her undergraduate experience at Johnson & Wales University in Providence: She made great friends and memories as a member of the Wildcat Dance team and worked hard in her pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, which she says allowed her to tie together her “specific talents and interests within the arts, humanities, and communications fields.” But before she could finish her degree on campus, her husband, Nashay, a United States Marine, received the order to relocate to Camp Pendleton in Southern California.
Here, she shares her story of how the JWU College of Online Education allowed her to complete her degree 2,985 miles away from the university where she began her studies—and how she discovered what the flexibility of online learning truly means.
Can you describe your emotions when you learned that you had to relocate during your senior year? What did the online option mean for you?
When I first learned that my husband and I were going to move to California, I became very stressed out. I did not know that transferring completely online was an option. I thought that I would have to stay behind in Rhode Island to finish my degree, while my husband relocated to California. Once I found out that my schedule could work with all online classes, I became extremely happy and excited to start my experience as an online student.
What was it like transitioning from an on-campus student to an online student?
I successfully completed 14 online classes this last year in California to finish up my degree. I found the transition from an on-campus student to an online student to be fairly easy. I enjoyed the freedom to work on my classwork at any time during the day, night, week, or weekends, while not being restricted to attend the classroom at a particular time. At this time, we have one vehicle, and I was very busy with schoolwork, while also training our Pug puppy, Biscuit. Classes kept me occupied while Nashay was in the field and deployed, as well. Some classes were more difficult than others, but overall I enjoyed the online experience more than the on-campus experience. Being organized and dedicated to my studies was also in my favor, and I am happy to have graduated cum laude.
Did you have any expectations or ideas of what it would mean to be an online student? Were they accurate once you got into the online classroom full-time?
I had taken one online class while I was still an on-campus student, so it gave me a feeling for what the online classroom felt like. I actually preferred the online classroom over an actual classroom, because I found that I was able to focus better. I could set aside the time I needed to work on my assignments as often as I needed, and my professors were only an email away if I needed help.
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What classes did you take online?
I took a variety of classes online. During the spring of 2016, I took my first online classes while traveling cross country from Rhode Island to California. I had to get all of my work done for the week in about two days so I could post it before we left. I took ecology, nutrition, and a psychology class. I continued to take classes into the summer, which was a Spanish class, another food literature class, as well as a literature class about the working life. In the fall of 2016, I took an ethics class, a food writing class, and a sports and literature class. During the winter, I took a food and culture class along with a travel writing course. Lastly, during the spring of 2017, I took a project management course from another institution which transferred back to JWU, and I also took a literature class about film and visual design. I really enjoyed the travel writing class, as well as the food writing class, because I got to include personal experiences about my journey to California.
How does the coursework differ between online and on-ground?
The main difference between the two is that the online classes come with a lot more responsibility. Instead of attending a classroom for a couple of hours on a specific day, the online classes can be done almost anytime and anywhere within the given time period. As long as you set aside enough time and do not forget about the work, there should be no problem.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing their degree online?
My advice would be to not wait until the end of the week to get work done. I would always start on Monday and try to get as much done as I could for one class while taking breaks within the day. On Tuesdays, I would look at the next class and try to work on that. I dedicated one day to each of my classes and then would have about three or four days of freedom to work on anything that didn’t get done or to relax. Creating a schedule that works best for you and sticking to it is an important piece of advice for someone who is interested in pursuing their degree online.
Did you celebrate your graduation in California? How did you mark this amazing achievement?
During my last two terms of my senior year, my husband was deployed, but he happened to come home just in time for my graduation. We had planned a late honeymoon for when he came home, and we decided to celebrate my graduation, as well. We spent a week in Maui, Hawaii, celebrating his homecoming, our honeymoon, as well as my graduation!
For more information on pursuing the BS – Liberal Studies or any of the other undergraduate or graduate degrees at Johnson & Wales University College of Online Education, complete the “Request Info” form on this page or call 855-JWU-1881 or email [email protected].