Champlain College Faculty Member Explains Her Path to Online College

For some, attending an online college is intimidating or not the “comfortable” route to go. People, especially adults who went to a campus college many years ago, perceive college as the brick-and-mortar buildings and classrooms with instructors who stand in front of you and verbally feed you information. The idea of doing all of this on a computer may seem strange – there are no classrooms, no white boards for the teacher to write notes or draw diagrams on to explain their ideas.

Prospective online students who haven’t experienced an online college, and are still wary about how much they will learn and how well their degree will fly in the career world, could learn a lot from one college faculty member who once earned her associate’s degree through a campus college, only to return and earn her bachelor’s degree twenty years later online.

Here’s her story:

Bridget Baldwin, Director of Enrollment at Champlain College, was once skeptical of taking classes through online colleges, too. However, Baldwin, 39, had no problem talking the adult learners who came to her in the Division of Continuing Professional Studies department into pursuing their education through online classes, as her job at the college depended on it.

Her relationship with the Vermont based private school started far before she began working at Champlain College. She earned an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising and retailing at Champlain in 1992 and later returned to the college to start her career.

Six years ago, Baldwin decided it was time to start practicing what she preached and chose to pursue her bachelor’s degree online.

“It really came down to time management around my family and quality time with them,” says Baldwin. She really didn’t want to spend any more time away from her family than the 40 hours that she already put into working at the college. If she were taking evening classes on campus, she would miss dinnertime with her family.

Online classes allowed her the ability to enjoy dinner with her family and take her classes when it was convenient for her. Now, Baldwin studies when her children are sleeping, either early in the morning or late a night after the children’s bedtime.

Baldwin is currently pursuing her B.S. in business management and looks forward to holding the degree in hand in May, 2012, exactly twenty years after completing her associate’s degree. She has also just received a promotion at Champlain College.

She says that although negative thoughts can keep you from achieving your goals, “As an adult learner, I think there can be a lot of things in life that tell you can’t: not enough time, not enough money, not enough confidence. But you get that confidence as you learn.” She also admitted that when a parent goes back to college, it’s “a big time commitment, not just by me, but by my family.”

Baldwin also believes that, “you start to become part of this community of adult learners that is really engaging and motivating.”

Her final advice for online college students of the future was to keep an open mind about taking classes through online colleges. “You can do it. There are ways to manage everything in life and make that commitment to yourself.”