One of the best and easiest decisions I ever made was choosing Holy Family University to pursue my graduate degree. I felt as though this was one of the very few schools that offered a flexible format. Being that I was a full-time teacher with a part-time job, I needed to find a school that would be accommodating to my hectic schedule.
Holy Family University allowed me to complete my entire program online at an extremely reasonable cost. I did not have to go to the campus once, which made it rather convenient. I took one, sometimes two, courses every eight weeks.
Although it sounded like a lot, balancing both school and work, the instructors were understanding in knowing that we were full-time teachers, some even parents as well, and did not give us an overabundance of work. I wanted to pursue this degree in a short amount of time, and this program allowed me to do just that. I will admit, at first I was a bit skeptical as to how comfortable I would feel with the online program; however, it turned out to be a worthwhile experience.
Connecting with Other Professionals
Although the program was solely online, I still managed to make friends with some of the people in my cohort. Since we were in the same program, we were in many of the same classes together. Some assignments required us to complete group projects, work on activities together, or comment on each other’s discussion posts.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with my peers because it allowed me to hear about their experiences and see things through their perspective. We might not have been working face to face, but I still felt as though I knew them well and was comfortable with sharing my thoughts and ideas with them.
In addition to my peers, I thought the instructors were rather efficient and reliable when it came to explaining assignments and answering questions through emails. Some teachers even created weekly videos explaining the lesson objectives and reviewing directions for certain activities. I always thought that was a nice feature because it allowed me to put a face to the name, and it was an opportunity to learn more about my instructor.
In addition to the online format, I really liked that Holy Family offered a variety of programs to match my interests and goals. I started to gain an interest in special education, and I knew I wanted to soon return to school for my master’s in education. With that being said, I kept those things in mind when looking at different graduate programs.
Holy Family offered various options to choose from when it came to certifications with master’s degrees. I remember seeing master’s with reading specialist, master’s with English as a second language, and master’s with special education.
I chose the master’s with special ed. because it was exactly what I was looking for. Holy Family held several information sessions, discussing these different options as well as the format choices—hybrid or solely virtual. The hybrid had a mix of classes on campus and online. Even though I knew virtual was the one for me, I thought it was nice to see that I still had other options too. As far as the actual courses, I thought they were all very beneficial.
Each class allowed me to reflect on my current teaching strategies and provided me with much insight in regards to educating students with special needs. I was also given numerous resources that could be incorporated into my own classroom, such as various graphic organizers, educational websites, and e-book sites.
Sometimes I would share with my peers and/or instructor how I was using the tools, and they would respond with their feedback and perhaps their experience with using them. I can honestly say I learned a lot of useful information and found each class to be interesting. It wasn’t a struggle to work on the assignments because the material was engaging and I knew it would help me in the long run.
Not only did I take online courses, but I also had to complete a practicum. Fortunately, I was given permission by both my school principal and Holy Family advisor to complete my practicum with the students I had been teaching. I did not have to go to another school or teach a different group of students, which made the practicum process rather convenient and less stressful.
My supervisor met with me prior to observing so we could become acquainted with one another and also review the expectations of the course. There were four observations, and I was able to schedule the day and time for each so long as it was convenient for her.
Although it was a bit nerve wrecking to be observed and evaluated, I definitely think it helped boost my confidence. I started to feel much more comfortable with having someone watch me teach, and I certainly appreciated the feedback for my lessons. The entire practicum experience was a great opportunity for me to grow as an educator.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to attend Holy Family University for my graduate career. I was able to attend the commencement ceremony at the Kimmel Center located in Philadelphia and receive my master’s degree. It only took me two years, as it was solely online. I was also able to meet new people and learn from each other’s experiences. Some of us still stay in touch to this day, which can be great for networking.
Most importantly, the information I learned throughout these courses helped me to become a better teacher and even prepared me for the Praxis Test (Special Education certification) which I passed the first time. Ultimately, I felt as though I learned a lot about myself as an educator and became more aware of the importance for meeting the needs of all learners. I highly recommend Holy Family University as the school at which to pursue an exceptional education!
Ready to start your advanced degree journey at Holy Family University? Explore our programs and enroll today!