Deciding whether to attend grad school has never been easy. For many, this is a decision that entails many sacrifices: time, money, career and life away from loved ones.
With today’s rising student debt, paired with a competitive job market and less generous tuition reimbursements from companies, mid-career professionals are thinking hard before submitting their application.
These apprehensions may be true for traditional brick and mortar establishments. Online grad school, however, is using tech to revolutionise the grad student experience.
The University of New Mexico (UNM) is using this disruptive force to push towards one goal: to make grad school accessible to all. In tandem with an increasingly digital world, the school has designed an online learning experience that supports talented professionals in deepening and extending their pursuit of knowledge.
Considering the rate in which academic institutions are adopting new technologies, statistics reveal that UNM leads the pack when it comes to bringing education into the 21st century and beyond.
UNM offers a number of online degree programs at the master’s level, designed for busy adults. Here, students can choose from the following: MS Computer Engineering – Internet of Things, Master of Construction Management (MCM), MS Electrical Engineering – Space Systems Engineering, MS Mechanical Engineering – Space Systems Engineering, MA Organization, Information & Learning Sciences (OILS).
Approximately 39% of UNM students take at least one online course per semester. On top of this, nearly three-fourths receive financial aid at some point during their course of study. UNM provides graduate student funding in a variety of forms and assistance in locating extramural support through external resources.
In November 2017, the online Computer Engineering master’s program was ranked 22nd in the country by Best Computer Science Schools, listed alongside Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn, Purdue and Syracuse.
On this matter, Michael Devetsikiotis, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: “We are excited about this (online) launch. It will be available in an eight-week intensive format as a managed online program, and taught by experts from academia, government and industry. With a total tuition cost of under US$15,000, we look forward to attracting online students from the US and abroad.”
A postgraduate education fit for the digital age
For the longest time, gaining a graduate degree meant abandoning a job you’ve poured your heart into, and often also sitting out on what could be the most important moments of family life. Naturally, one of the biggest perks of online grad school lies in its flexible schedule.
The power to choose when and where learning takes place makes the other sacrifices for grad school much more bearable and its payoff – financial or otherwise – sweeter.
UNM’s master’s degrees are made fully available online with all courses offered in an eight-week format. For example, the Master of Construction Management (MCM) consists of five required courses, plus an additional five elective courses – all of which can be taken in any order and completed in as little as 12 months.
Forget the misconception that online learning is just a one-way, passive transfer of information by a figure on your computer screen. The programs at UNM are proof that graduate students can collaborate with nationally-recognised faculty and engage in cutting-edge research as it’s developed to Quality Matters – a leading online education quality assurance program – standards.
Such a structure provides a suite of advantages that benefit both domestic and international students. Those living nearby can choose to continue working, part- or full-time, saving precious pennies on their commute to campus. There’s a reason why online grad school is so popular among international students, too: there are no visa issues.
Another fallacy often touted about online learning is the lack of opportunities to network and build relationships – especially with those from different walks of life. On the contrary, traditional classrooms are the ones often segregated by students’ age and life circumstances, according to industry insiders. Here, extroverts usually get all the attention, hindering introverts or people from other cultures and physical capabilities.
Online classes, on the other hand, connect people from more diverse nationalities, ages and backgrounds. When online, students are given a chance to reflect – an important learning process as it challenges assumptions and incorporates new ideas – and express themselves, giving them more time to be articulate and form powerful responses.
But what about professional development and career services, you say?
UNM’s dedicated career services extend to the digital world. There are workshops to boost résumés and cover letter writing, to build confidence in interviews and fine tune the job hunt.
“UNM Career Services is valuable to your academic and employment careers. We equip you with relevant skills and the right services to make a dream or two come true,” says Jenna Crabb, Director of UNM Career Services.
This institution is intent on educating to the highest level, maintaining the utmost dedication to improving graduate student lives.