Every now and then I’m asked to document my experience as a University of the People student. As I was writing it down this morning, I thought it might be helpful to post on this blog as well.
My experience at the University of the People has been better than I ever could have imagined.
After graduating high school in 2003, I made two attempts to earn a degree. In both cases I was only able to complete a few semesters before having to drop out for personal reasons. I felt like a failure and to make things worse I had racked up nearly $20,000 in student loan debt. At that point in my life, I felt as though I would never be able to get a higher education and earn a degree that would open up new doors, personally and professionally.
In 2011 I read an article online about University of the People. UoPeople claimed to be the world’s first tuition-free online university. I was skeptical – a tuition-free college education sounded too good to be true. But the idea stuck with me and from time to time I would search the internet for any news or reviews about UoPeople. After seeing a few more articles about how UoPeople had partnered with reputable partners like Hewlett-Packard and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation I decided it was worth the $50 application fee to take a risk and apply for the first term in 2012. I was accepted shortly thereafter.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my classes at UoPeople. The 100% online format, use of Open Educational Resources, and focus on peer-to-peer learning under the tutelage of highly qualified instructors have allowed me to study on a flexible schedule while still ensuring that the courses are rigorous. I also appreciate the fact that my classmates come from all over the world – where I first thought that such a blend of perspectives might be difficult to deal with, I have found that exposure to so many different cultures and ways of thinking has only improved my own learning.
In July of 2014 I graduated with an Associate of Science in Business Administration. I proudly display my diploma in my office at work. My employer values my higher education and the fact that UoPeople is an accredited institution. Just this past year, I was able to use my degree to obtain a professional registration (Pennsylvania Registered School Business Specialist) which verifies my expertise in the profession. I could not have done this without my degree. I am continuing my education through University of the People and hope to complete my Bachelor’s degree within the next two years and, if it becomes possible, an MBA as well.