Online College? | Don’t Knock It Just Yet |
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
If it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder when I talk about online college, I probably do. The majority of people I speak with about online college have a misguided view on something that is a credible way to earn a degree. Some students might be excited to go to a brick and mortar university, but believe it or not, some students don’t have ANY desire to go to a brick and mortar, yet they’re still open to the idea of earning a degree.
I earned my B.S. through online college. When I graduated one of my family members attended my graduation. They said; “Oh! I didn’t know you went to a “real” school.”
Yeah, I do!
We had a “real” graduation (three-hours long)! The guest speaker at my graduation was Rev. Wilfredo de Jesus, a prominent pastor from Chicago who, in 2013, was named one of the most influential American leaders by Time Magazine.
The university I attended offer classes on campus, but they also offer classes online. These are the same classes taught on campus, by the same professors. Most professors are teaching these classes at the same time, just one class is on campus and the other classes are online.
So, why did I start taking online classes? Well, if you read my story a few months ago, I Barely Graduated High School, Yet I Homeschool My Children, you’ll know I did not have the opportunity to attend college right after high school. By the time I was able to go, I was thirty-one years old. I had just accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and felt called to Bible College.
The school I attended was twenty-minutes from my house. I went to classes, on campus, twice a week.
Well, a few months after getting into the swing of everything, we found out, (to our surprise), we were expecting another child. I had already spent my entire life up until that point feeling like a nobody. I was so proud of myself for being in school (even for those first few months), I didn’t want to quit, but that was my option – or take the same classes – online.
We already had three children at that time and I knew there was no way I could continue going on campus with four children who needed me all day. I stayed in school on campus up until my due date. I stopped going for six-weeks after I had my daughter and then I enrolled into their classes online. Again, these were the same professors I had on campus, just now I was learning via my computer.
I finished my degree online. I did take two years off due to a move across the country, and for the birth of our fifth child – but I finished! I then entered seminary online and will graduate with a M.A. in Theological Studies in May.
Are You Getting A Good Education?
Here is what you need to know.
The majority of universities today offer both on campus and on ground classes. However, you still need to research. Just because a school is a brick and mortar school it does not mean it is reputable. At the same time, just because classes are online, it does not mean your education is coming from the back of a cereal box. But you have the power in this situation to make sure you’re enrolling into a quality program by simply taking the time to research.
I’ll share with you some of what I have had learn on my journey and let you judge my experience.
This book called:
Advanced Strategic Planning: A 21st– Century Model For Church and Ministry Leaders I had to read and study for my Church Leadership Development class. There’s a reason why some churches are not growing. There’s a reason why people in some congregations are not growing spiritually. Reading this book I realized a lot of churches do not even know what a mission statement is, or how to properly write a mission statement. This is a great resource for churches who want learn how to lead their community effectively. And I might add; I started reading this book when our family first starting visiting the church we are now members off. Everything a church should do to reach their community, our church had many points from this book which is one of the reasons why we eventually became members. And my professor did a great job teaching us how to seek God to become effective ministry leaders.
This book called:
Pastor Church & Law, is a great book. I had to study the many case studies found in this book for my Church Polity class. There are so many situations that happen in church that the average person has no idea about. For this particular class, I had to create mock guidelines for pastors to follow who worked at “my” church. One of my mock guidelines was, under no circumstances can a pastor on staff have any personal contact with a minor via social media, text, or email. We live in a fallen world and this class was great at teaching future leaders how to prepare and prevent bad things from happening.
This book called:
Church Safety and Security, I had to read for my Church Administration class. This book has real-life horror stories one after the other about the carelessness within churches when it comes to safety. There’s a story in this book about a child who was playing on church playground equipment when she fell on her head because the playground equipment was not well-maintained. There are lessons in this book about how one adult should never be alone in a room with a child or go inside the restroom with a child. (Me and Omar follow that same rule dealing with our physical education program. We never go inside when we walk children to the restroom). There are stories on medical emergencies that have happened at church. There are stories on divorced, where one parent kidnapped a child from church because proper procedures were not in place for the child’s safety.
The Speeches in Acts.
I had to read this book for my Speeches in Acts class. Do you know there are twenty-eight speeches in the book of Acts? I had to dissect every one of them. This was the hardest class ever! However, to read God’s Word in its proper context makes a difference when we are growing as disciples of Jesus Christ.
And finally I just read this book last week for my Identity and Calling Spiritual Leadership class.
A Work of Heart
A very well-written book to help leaders reflect on their calling and know what God has called them to do. The author does a great job teaching us how Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus Christ, all had a heart for God, but they each had different callings for God’s mission. For anyone who is simply swimming out there with the fish without any clue where they’re going, this is a great book. For this particular class I have to write weekly papers on how I feel God is leading me. These papers help us stop and reflect on God’s purpose in our lives. I find myself constantly talking with God each week about his direction for me.
What did you conclude? Do you think I am getting a good online education? Or am I wasting my time? Do you think online college is something you’d like to look into? For every class, although I am sharing one book from a certain class, I have several books to read and right papers on. Professors upload their lectures on our school portal which we have to watch, take notes, and write detailed reports on their lectures. We have to have online discussion with our peers. (We do that all day on social media anyway right?)
I cannot tell you how many debates I have had with my peers who like to argue points! But in reality it’s fine because it’s another way to learn.
Who are my peers?
I have been in online classes with young people right out of high school, as well as working adults, pastors, full-time chaplains, former military personnel, missionaries and so forth.
Obviously, there are some degrees you cannot get online. You cannot go to medical school online. Or law school. I believe there is one online law school out there, but a law degree you’ll want to pursue on campus.
For other types of degrees, online college is not a bad option. Your homeschooler might be lucky enough to find a decent job after high school, but they might like the idea of continuing their education too. Online college can be the solution.
And if your homeschooler is not interested in online college, what about you? Have you ever considered furthering your education?
If you’re in the Memphis area, our my homeschool support group, Proverbs Twenty-Two Six Homeschoolers, is offering a free workshop to learn more about online college. This is happening on Friday, October 19, 2p.m. at The Cordova Library. Let us know via email if you’d like to attend: email@example.com
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
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