For Cecilia Parmar, an online master's degree is a “practical” solution to cramming a quality education into an already full life. The working mother is a winner of the Fall 2010 GetEducated and Core4Women $1,000 online college scholarship.
Parmar, 42, works as an Administrative Assistant in Monroe Township, New Jersey, while pursuing her second online master's degree, this one in Library and Information Science. She is fascinated by archival studies, but with constant changes in her work schedule and her daughter’s school schedule, she feared traditional on-campus classes would interrupt the balance in her lifestyle.
She explains, “When I decided that I wanted to be a librarian, I knew that I could not move to attend graduate school. My family, work and responsibilities lay firmly where I live. Therefore, I thought my choices of study were very limited with only two schools within a two hour drive of my home in central New Jersey.”
Instead she found an online school based on the other side of the country. In the spring of 2007, Parmar enrolled in San Jose State University’s distance learning programs for library science. After three years, Parmar sums up her online course studies in one word: practical.
“First the school is not only regionally accredited, but it is also accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA approval is very important to me because most libraries require an ALA accredited degree as a hiring qualification,” says Parmar. “Next, the flexibility of the SJSU online program has allowed me to select from both asynchronous and synchronous courses.”
It was a surprise to Parmar that she could live in New Jersey and attend online class in California almost every day. In contrast with a brick-and-mortar school, SJSU’s online platform has many campuses. The online school’s wide selection of courses helped her focus on archival librarianship and cartography.
Parmar also values the ability to choose the number of credit hours she will take in a given semester. By pacing herself one or two classes at a time, she can manage her responsibilities at home and work, as well as meet her household budget. If she did not have the option to adjust her schedule for night courses, Parmar says she would not have the time to attend class or listen to recorded lectures. Bottom line she would have to drop out.
In the spring of 2011, Parmar will enter her last term at San Jose State University and complete her master's degree in Library Science. She explains, “I am excited to begin the final capstone project and move forward with my graduate thesis. We will research 26 different core competencies and demonstrate how our work translates into those fields.”
Although the flexibility of online classes has enabled Parmar to pursue a master's, graduating with honors has required sacrifices. She skipped Fourth of July fireworks to finish a paper on libraries for the blind and has cut back on her church volunteer work to make time for her studies.
Parmar is particularly thankful for the financial support from the online college scholarship since this will be her second graduate degree. She completed her first online master's degree in Humanity, with a specialization in History, at California State University Dominguez Hills. She envisions working toward a doctorate degree or an additional graduate certificate in the future.
GetEducated.com offers annual scholarships for moms and members of Core4Women. (Editor's Note: The Core4Women program is temporarily closed for the remainder of 2013. For another great scholarship opportunity open to distance learning students, please see the Get Educated Online College Scholarship.)
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