When you think about online education, you don’t often think of a tight-knit community. As I began researching online graduate programs, I remembered the experience I had with American University as a high school student looking for colleges. Though I attended a different university for undergrad, the inclusive culture of American stuck with me. I knew American would be a great choice for a graduate program, but I didn’t know how its campus culture would translate to an online program. How would we work together? Would I feel like my classmates were strangers? How can you make friends through an online classroom?
I thought I would occasionally interact with my classmates and professors, with most or all of the work being done individually. Instead, I have formed close friendships with my classmates, despite our distance and differing backgrounds, and worked closely with professors who are active and experienced in the communications industry. Each course has featured some level of group work and through those assignments and activities, we have gotten to know each other just as we would on campus. Nothing bonds people more than trying to launch a successful Google Hangout!
When starting this program, I had very little practical experience in the communications field and it was incredibly helpful to bond with classmates who were also starting their communications journey in this program. Additionally, I have connected with classmates who already have real-world knowledge and have learned from their experiences almost as much as the course content.
Having the support of other students in this program has been one of the best perks, but it extends beyond coursework support and into real friendships. We talk about our lives, call each other when our computer crashes and text SOS at 11:30 on a Saturday night when we can’t see our way through an assignment. We’ve even had a virtual happy hour!
Taking on a graduate program while working full-time is a big commitment and the relationships I’ve built with classmates have been indispensable. They’ve been there when I’ve had questions about a reading or an assignment, and they understand the unique demands of balancing an online program with a full-time job. Our friendships have extended beyond the classroom and we frequently text about our daily lives, as if we are catching up on campus over coffee. It may sound corny, but now that I am more than halfway finished with the program, it wouldn’t have been the same without the friendships and connections of classmates who can relate perfectly to the demands and satisfaction of completing an online graduate program.
To learn more about American University's online Master of Arts in Strategic Communication, request more information or call toll free at 855-725-7614.