“I view Cappella University as a community because I am able to communicate personally with other students. For instance, I talk to people in my class on the phone to share ideas. Even though we are half a country away, it seems as if we are neighbors. We get to know each other online.”
Why did you decide to attend Capella University to get your doctorate degree in public service leadership?
I decided to attend Capella University after I had a dissatisfying experience at a state school in my home state of Oklahoma. I have to say, I was very disheartened with the level of intellectual rigor in the classroom, so I quit the program my first semester, despite the fact that there are very few PhD programs in public service in this area. Then a friend of mine who used to be on the board at Capella University suggested I look into this program, and I was immediately impressed with what I found online.
What are your school's biggest strengths?
I think the biggest strength of Capella University is the resources it offers online. At a brick-and-mortar school, you are able to point students toward resources, like a writing lab or tutoring center, but students are always forced to depend on another human being. At Capella University, students can simply go online to improve their skills or find out more information. It is a flawless system.
Do you view Capella University as a community?
Yes, I view Cappella University as a community because I am able to communicate personally with other students. For instance, I talk to people in my class on the phone to share ideas. Even though we are half a country away, it seems as if we are neighbors. We get to know each other online through discussions and chat so that when we do meet in person it is an easy interaction.
How are you paying for college?
I am paying for my education with student loans, which means that I have incurred a lot of student debt. I feel as though I am in debt up to my eyeballs. But I value my education enough that I believe it is worth the money.
How helpful was your school in assisting your financial aid process?
Capella University's website is quite helpful in assisting me to find financial aid. It offers ideas to help students pay for school through loans and scholarships. It also helps students to assess their eligibility for financial aid from the government.
Do you feel like your overall cost of education is more or less than the cost of a degree at a traditional institution?
I believe that I pay more to go to Capella University than I would at a traditional school, although it depends if you are talking about a private or a public school. For instance, the private college where I teach costs students approximately $30,000 a year. Compared to that, I pay less.
Can you describe the admissions process from start to finish?
The admissions process happened virtually overnight. I don't recall if I was required to submit letters of recommendation, but I know I had to send in my transcripts.
Did you have an admissions interview?
Yes, I did have an admissions interview. I talked to an advisor over the phone who asked me basic questions about my past education and my future goals. She asked me why I chose to study public service and what my reasons were for applying to Capella University.
During the admissions process, did you interact with an admissions advisor?
I interacted with an admissions advisor 3 or 4 times during the admissions process. I completed most of my enrollment paperwork online, but I called up the university a few times to verify that it had been received.
How is class material presented?
Class materials are presented through webpages that contain a variety of different tabs to help you navigate the course. You can browse the course syllabus, explore the unit you'll be covering and see what assignments you need to finish. The most important tab is the discussion board, which is the online forum students use to discuss course material. We are required to conduct research on the discussion questions then write posts and respond to the posts of others. It is a very interesting way to gather the insights of my classmates. I find that we have very rich discussions, since the people in my classes are from all walks of life and live in many different areas, which makes for a wide range of perspectives.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of this style of presentation?
I can't think of any drawbacks to learning this way, but there is a clear benefit. Online school allows me to learn from not only the instructor and his or her leadership, but also from my classmates. Each of the 30 students in my classes brings a valuable point of view into the program, and I think that makes the education I get at Capella very unique.
Are you able to stay engaged in your online coursework?
I have not any problem staying engaged in my online classes. In fact, sometimes I will be working online for hours on end without realizing how long I have been on the computer.
What method of communication do you use to keep in touch with your professors?
Most of the time, I use e-mail to stay in touch with my professors. Most of my professors also give out their phone numbers, and I would estimate that I have contacted 3 of them on the phone. But generally speaking, e-mail is sufficient.
Can you rate the faculty on a scale of Excellent, Good, Average, Poor, Extremely Poor, in terms of:
|Knowledgeable||Excellent||I have not had a single professor who was inadequate or didn't know what he was talking about.|
||Assignments are challenging, but I learn a lot in the process of completing them.|
|Grading||Excellent||Whenever I submit an assignment, they typically will put up a review to show me what I could improve so that I can learn from that experience.|
|Responsiveness||Excellent||They answer questions right away.|
|Reliability||Excellent||I have had no issue with reliability, and they have always done what they said they would do.|
|Interest taken in class as a whole||Good||It is apparent by their discussions with other students that they spend quality time in the online classroom.|
|Interest taken in student as an individual||Good||Teaching is not their only responsibility, so given their time constraints, I think the interest they take in me is definitely adequate.|
What advice would you give to students to help them succeed in an online classroom?
I would tell students to take advantage of the resources that your school offers. For instance, a student at Capella University will have every resource they could imagine at the online library. I suggest that students make sure to utilize those resources and understand where to find them.
Why did you choose to enroll in your public service leadership program?
The easiest answer is simply that I wanted to enroll in a doctorate program to give me credibility as an academic and to help me earn more money. Once I earned my bachelors degree, a masters degree seemed like the next natural step. But even then, I didn't make enough money, so I elected to further my education even more.
Does your program include a dissertation component?
Yes, my program does include a dissertation component. However, I am not to that stage yet, so I haven't explored its requirements in any great depth. I know that I would like to focus my research on juvenile delinquency in the state of Oklahoma. I think there may be a connection between the type of social supports that are implemented in the public school system and the number of cases of delinquency.
Does your program have a residency requirement?
Yes, there is a residency component to my program. We have to attend several colloquia throughout the doctoral process. I haven't been to a colloquium yet, but my understanding is that they address work on the dissertation. You get to meet instructors and students face-to-face to discuss the program and class material.
If you were to do it again, would you sign up for Capella University's doctorate program in public service leadership?
I would absolutely sign up for Capella University's doctorate program again. The only aspect of my education that I would change is that I would start it sooner.
What general advice would you give to a student who is considering a doctorate degree in public service leadership at Capella University?
My advice for anyone who is on the fence about online education is to just do it. You can think about it all your life, but at some point you have to make a decision and stick to it. The sooner you get your education the better off you will be.