Stephanie Wills shares her experiences with online learning.
Courses taken per term: 4
Hours spent on program per week: 20–24 hours
Current hometown: Yorktown, VA
Distance from University Park: 376 Miles
As a Penn State World Campus student, what does a typical school day look like for you?
I am currently a senior majoring in human development and family studies, military wife, mother of two, official military volunteer (Key Spouse), World Campus Active Minds Vice President, World Campus Student Advisory Board member, and full-time intern for a local nonprofit. My husband is away seven months for military training, and I’m pulling double duty with managing schedules, meals, rides, housework, homework, pets, schoolwork, and work-work. It is a blur of a season and feel as though I should have some type of super power!
The truth is I don’t. I juggle and wrestle my two blondies out of bed at the crack of dawn. The oldest grabs a Pop-Tart® and cream-heavy coffee in just barely enough time to run and catch the bus as the sun rises. My second prefers smoothie-sipping as I get ready for work. He gets up “early” and does his homework in the morning; I have no idea why. The bus comes, the boy goes, and I grab my things to get started on my 30-minute commute to work. Just yesterday, I came home from work and realized I had left our Great Dane outside all day…oops. My desk is covered in paperwork that needs sorting in the worst way. Many evenings, as my kids clean up dinner, I sit at the computer and attend virtual meetings. The weekend comes and I usually have volunteer obligations to fulfill, sports practices, and assignments due. Then it’s a scramble with all hands on deck to clean up and get laundry done to start the whole crazy whirlwind all over again come Monday! It has been a wild ride that I have thoroughly enjoyed.
Where do you complete your course work?
I work at my home desk with double computer screens. I mention the screens because it totally rocked my academic world adding the second screen! When reading, I like to sit outside in the sun or curl up on my bed. If the kids have friends over and the volume is up a few notches, I put ear plugs in my ears to concentrate. Somehow it magically happens and with all assignments completed to submit by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sundays!
Why did you choose Penn State World Campus (WC)?
I initially chose PSU for the Penn State part. Honestly, I am from Pennsylvania and have been a Penn State fan for many years. I started at Penn State as a traditional student many years ago, for my first degree. Then as a returning adult, I went to Penn State Altoona until my husband followed an opportunity for work to Virginia. It was sickening to have to leave a major I loved and start over with another degree after we moved. A professor at Penn State Altoona suggested I continue and complete my degree online through Penn State World Campus. I have no regrets; the experience has been great and I love the flexibility!
I also suffer from debilitating migraines each month and at times struggled with exams and papers after spending days being bedridden. After too many semesters and during a particularly hard time, I talked with my adviser and was encouraged to talk with the disability officer for Penn State World Campus. They both were a tremendous help, I wish I would have spoken up my FIRST semester!
Last, but not least, it never occurred to me that I would meet friends while completing my degree online, yet that has been one most rewarding parts of the experience!
What would you tell someone thinking about enrolling in a Penn State WC program?
It is feasible for SO many different life circumstances and definitely worth the effort! I would recommend Penn State World Campus and encourage a new student to engage the faculty and students. There is an enriched learning experience available here if you work to find and cultivate one. It is what you make it for sure. I chose to engage, and in return have become a better student, leader, and professional!