I started my first introductory class this week online at Grand Canyon University. It was a three day workshop helping you get used to taking classes online, from reading the daily lectures to reviewing the assignments and discussion group topics. It also taught you how to find the same resources online that you would find on campus such as the library, tutorials on every aspect of their online format to finding a tutor when you need one.
They are dedicated to your success and provide far more resources than I had 44 years ago when I first started taking college classes out of high school. There is always a discussion group question or two each week so everyone has an opportunity to get to know each other and connect through an otherwise geographic isolation from each other.
Our first assignment was to write a biography and I followed the template that had been provided by the university. That’s another resource they provide, with many templates set up in Word or Excel or Power Point, all ready for you to just drop in your text. 40 plus years of work experience was hard to condense into a one page bio, but after several hours, I was finished. I went to the classroom wall to read what others had written and found that most of my classmates had written brief one paragraph bio’s. An 18-year-old right out of high school doesn’t have as much life to write about.
There were a few students that were older and wanting to finish their degree, such as the 39-year-old nurse who worked full-time with two kids or the woman who works with children who have cerebral palsy. She hopes to be able to earn more money once she completes her degree so she can form a charitable trust that would provide funding for families that can’t afford treatment for their disabled kids.
Even though we cannot see each other or hear each other, we connected through this intricately woven network of learning, all of us disparate yet persistent learners wanting more out of life through education and also wanting more for those who are physically around us each day.
My admissions counselor Joe, has spent numerous hours coaching and guiding me through every step. His gentle way of teaching me how to set up my Mac for a Microsoft world of online business classes kept me comfortable as I bumbled through the installation. He taught me how to maneuver around the virtual classroom and campus and learn how to thread in the discussion groups in order to connect with my classmates.
It’s pretty overwhelming to be the oldest student of your class when some of these classmates are only 10 years older than my grandson. Yet Joe has succeeded in making me feel like the many years of living have been erased. I am once again “18” and ready to start my first real class next Monday. He has helped provide me with a persistent learning scholarship and a summer scholarship that will provide enough funds to cover the first 2-3 classes. He also gave me a long list of potential scholarships and encouraged me to apply to 10 or more companies a week to help pay for all of my education.
I have a question for all of my readers. With all these tools readily available, why wouldn’t you you go back to school for perhaps no cost? Perhaps to finish a degree or obtain a new one or maybe just to learn about something you’ve always wanted to know more about.
To quote Shakespeare, “The world is my oyster” and I plan on working hard to wrench open that oyster and find the pearls of knowledge all along the way. My thanks to Joe and Grand Canyon University for helping me achieve my lifelong goal. I may have finished only a three-day class, but it was the glorious first step of many more to come over the next few years.