Virtual student support services help set Capella University’s online education apart

December 3, 2020

It’s a new world for many of us. Terms like “self-isolate” and “social distancing” are sadly now everyday language. As people quickly adapt their face-to-face daily routines to working, learning, and socializing via the internet, many look to organizations and institutions that have figured out the whole online experience for guidance on how to make it all work.

Capella University is one of those organizations.

Founded in 1993, Capella pioneered distance learning and spent nearly 30 years working to make the online learning experience more accessible. With more than 93,000 graduates, Capella knows how to educate working adults in a virtual environment.

“While our primary focus now is doing everything we can to help ensure our learners, faculty, and staff are safe and healthy, Capella remains committed to providing an uninterrupted online learning experience during this period of great upheaval and uncertainty,” says Curtis Brant, PhD, dean of Capella’s Office of Research & Scholarship. “This crisis will eventually pass, and the economy will recover. As that happens, we want to prepare our students and alumni to be as successful as possible.”

This preparation involves more than online courses. Over the years, Capella developed a wide array of online support services: librarians, advisors, career counselors, academic support—the list goes on. At Capella, these services and supports have always been offered online and are continuously accessible to students studying while sheltering in place.

These established virtual student support services include:

Online career services

Capella’s Career Center is staffed by a team of career counselors who provide individual online career counseling to Capella’s students and alumni. In 2019, Capella’s career counselors had individual appointments with approximately 3,000 students; many more students used the self-service online resources.

The services provided include:

  • Personalized career counseling
  • Career exploration and planning resources
  • Job search tools and strategies
  • Networking and mentoring opportunities
  • Resume building tools
  • Interview tips

Capella recently launched a new Career Center website, which provides access to a wide variety of resources and tools available 24/7 to both students and alumni.

Academic advisors

Earning a degree from an accredited university is not an easy endeavor. It takes discipline, intelligence, and ambition, but it also requires the assistance of deeply knowledgeable advisors who can help guide you across the finish line. At Capella, there are more than 125 advisors who are dedicated to providing support to Capella’s 39,000+ students.

Capella’s advisors provide guidance to students on everything from scheduling courses to requirements to graduate to dissertation questions and much more. Once again, all of this is done virtually and at an impressive scale. For example, in 2019, Capella’s advisors fielded over 180,000 inbound calls, 272,000 emails, and 66,000 texts from students. They spent more than 221,000 hours supporting our students.

Online residencies

With the majority of Capella’s students enrolled in graduate degree programs, residencies play a key role in their learning. Those residencies take the form of research for many of Capella’s doctoral programs, which are designed to help students progress with their dissertations or capstone projects. Residencies also include clinical training for students in clinical fields, such as counseling and psychology, providing those students with real-world professional experience.

While under normal circumstances, both types of residencies have online AND in-person components, Capella has quickly pivoted to offer all the components of the research residencies virtually.

“We are well positioned to offer our residencies remotely without sacrificing the integrity or quality of the experience,” Brant says.

For the clinical residencies, Brant says that Capella follows the guidelines of accreditors and offers an online option wherever possible.

“Everything we do is compliant with what our accreditors require,” Brant says.

Virtual academic support

Beyond the services referenced above, Capella has a whole ecosystem of support services that are offered virtually, including the Capella Writing Center, Capella Library, Institutional Review Board, and more.

For example, the Capella Library offers access to 77 databases comprising more than 77,000 full-text journals, more than 65,000 videos, more than 258,000 books, and 1.7 million full-text dissertations. These databases are available 24/7 online.

“Capella really has figured out online education, and the backbone of it all is our hundreds of faculty members who are experienced in teaching in the online environment,” Brant says. “Some of that interaction is real time and some is asynchronous, which allows maximum flexibility for our students. Everything we do is rooted in our commitment to competency-based education, which aligns what we teach with what our students need to know to be successful in their careers. Being able to offer a robust educational experience online at this point in time is truly an honor.”

Find your degree program at Capella University.

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