by Kaeleigh Stengle
Following my graduation from Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, TX, I happened to stumble across the Colorado State University Online website while investigating opportunities to further my education. My minor in Forensic Anthropology had ignited a fascination with physical and forensic anthropology and I felt as if I needed a more solid background in anthropology before I could pursue a graduate degree. The newly added online Anthropology degree has proved to be the perfect avenue to gain this additional background.
During my time at SHSU, I took a heavy class load, worked 20-40 hours a week as a police dispatcher and was involved in several extracurricular activities. I initially believed that full-time work and part-time online classes would pale in comparison to the effort I exerted while attending SHSU; however, I was wrong. I began training and working as a Forensic Investigator for the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office at the same time that the 2014 CSU Online fall semester began. The time management and self-discipline needed to balance a full-time job, that is physically and emotionally exhausting, school work and a social life was dramatically different than what I had experienced while at SHSU. Operating within and maintaining the responsibilities in a post-college, “adult” life and operating as a student provides a unique challenge in bridging the gap between the two opposing roles. However, as the semesters progressed and I became accustomed to the routine I have grown to appreciate the many values associated with online courses that may not be present in a physical classroom. All of the classes require a weekly interactive discussion which allows for the sharing and interactions between the students, despite a wide geographic distance. The diverse age, backgrounds and circumstances allowed for a tremendously in-depth and varied discussion that would not likely occur within a physical classroom. Though the introductions are usually brief, I have come to admire each of my fellow classmates with the backgrounds they possess and the circumstances that have led them to pursue online courses. I quickly saw that the student interaction matched, if not surpassed, the interaction that occurs in a physical classroom, but I was still mildly concerned about how thorough the professors would be. I have been pleasantly surprised throughout my time of CSU online with the thoroughness of the professors and the depth of the feedback that has been provided to me as a student. The promptness in which the professors reply to the student’s questions makes you feel as you are part of a classroom and not separated by hundreds of miles and an internet connection.
With the right combination of student initiative along with interactions between students and professors, the CSU Online program is the ideal setting for people in circumstances outside of the normal collegiate experience. The program allows students to pursue an education while maintaining their priorities as well as important family and career goals.