Robert J. Smith, Jr. is a support technician at Elliott Davis Technology Solutions in Georgia.

Highly motivated to advance his education and career, Robert selected Capella University’s FlexPath option for his master’s degree. He shares how and why he made the decision to attend Capella, and why FlexPath was the right approach for him.

 

I knew almost nothing about online education when I initially started researching universities for graduate work. I was still finishing my undergraduate degree, and while I had seen “accelerated” classes where the material was slide-show-based, with recommended reading and a quiz to “test” your knowledge, I had never enrolled in such a course. One day, however, I connected with an enrollment counselor at Capella University. He introduced me to FlexPath. After reviewing the available programs, I decided on the Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology Management, General Specialization degree, as I could get credits in the program for my prior learning based on my professional certifications and finish a lot faster.

Capella University graduate Robert Smith.
Capella University graduate Robert Smith.

As the final weeks of my undergraduate experience passed, I became hungry, for a lack of a better term, to start this “new” way of approaching education. I prepared by using every resource at my disposal to chart my journey into the degree program. I reviewed the cost calculators and curriculums almost daily, read and re-read course descriptions, and familiarized myself with everything I thought I might need to know. Any questions or concerns I had were directed to an enrollment counselor, and responses came almost instantly. Up to this point, I had spent hours just understanding this new concept and learning what direct assessment was all about. Because my educational background was fairly traditional—centered on lecturing, testing, and research—I initially had difficulty with the concept of direct assessment.

For personal and professional reasons, I decided to jump directly into graduate work after getting my undergraduate degree. My first Capella class was a completely foreign experience. For example, the way courses were presented was something totally new. I could see everything that needed to be done right from the get-go. Panic took hold of me. How would I do this? I didn’t know where to start, so I began with Assessment 1. That first class, Communication Skills for Today’s Information Technology Leaders, set the tone for how I would move forward. I would go through the assessment directions and ask myself, “Do I know what this is? If not, what should I research to learn about it?”

In working through the material, I also discovered that FlexPath instructors are unlike any others. They are precise in the feedback and information they give. They maintain strict standards—which makes the program both rewarding and difficult. My undergraduate education was very discussion-board- and quiz-based, yet the feedback from instructors was often limited or uninformative. At Capella, the instructors held my feet to the fire and provided an experience that cultivated critical thinking and self-evaluation.

Obtaining a master’s degree at Capella has allowed me to grow as a leader and expert in my field. It has given me an edge over my peers, and allowed me to prove to myself that, with diligence and hard work, anything is possible. I have finished what could have taken years in considerably less time. I have obtained further victory in the pursuit of self-discovery.

 

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