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I think I might be going crazy... Going back to school.

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  • I think I might be going crazy... Going back to school.

    I've decided to pursue my master's degree. I found an online-only program from a regionally accredited state university. I wanted to avoid the stigma of an online-only university. I will be working toward an MPA. The degree program itself is also accredited by NASPAA.

    I know with all of the posters here that someone else has to have done it too. I would love to hear from you about your experience. I'm curious about the workload and juggling it with kids and a full-time LE career. I am fortunate in that I have a Mon-Fri shift work schedule with no nights, weekends, or holidays.

    My bachelor's degree is a from a top-ranked state university (Forbes and US News Top 25 Ranking) and I've done major level course work as recently as five years ago... so I do have some recent perspective of the workload of a bachelor's degree.

    My main concern with this program is that the semesters are compressed into seven weeks. I'm not sure how much that will increase the workload.

    Some of the questions I have:

    1. How does the course workload compare to a bachelor's degree?

    2. Was online course work load about the same as in a classroom?

    3. How many classes are too much for someone with a full-time job and family? I can actually complete this program in under a year if I take a full load but I think that might be a bit much.

    I'm also open to any other advice that is offered. You can respond here or contact me via private message.
    Sign here. Press hard. You are making five copies.

  • #2
    I received my undergrad from a pretty good private university and my MA from a regionally accredited, Joe Average brick and mortar state univ. that has an on-line component. The amount and level of work doesn't even compare. I took two classes a term and was constantly (as in every night, for hours at a time) reading, researching, or writing. I spent a solid 20-24 hours a week on assignments. My program was pretty demanding on my time, had fixed deadlines, tests, mini papers in between research papers, etc. It had a significant negative impact on my marriage and my time with my children. Not knowing anything about the academic rigor of the school you have chosen, I don't know how it will impact your free time with your family. If I were you, I would start out with a single class and take it from there.

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    • #3
      I've got my MBA degree from AACSB credited program while I was working a full time job and it was a full time program. I had to attend 2 weekday evenings from 18:00 to 22:00 and whole day on Saturdays for 18 months. It was also compressed semester and was fast paced. Luckily, I was young and had no family so it wasn't too bad, but I didn't have a full weekend for myself during that time.
      Now that I look back, it was an investment that paid me back in several folds both professionally and financially. Now, this wasn't on-line course, so I can't give you much information on it.

      As to Bachelor's VS Master's program goes..... Professors tend to give you more flexibility and treat you like a true professional. More discussion oriented, lots of research and reading. Lots of group meetings and projects and then some more individual projects and research papers. I think we had very few examinations as we were graded more on our research, public speaking and projects.

      I am looking to go back to school to get another Master's degree in near future and now that I have kids and family to support, this will be some what of a challenge for me.

      Good luck!

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      • #4
        I just started my MBA from a brick-and-mortar school that has an online MBA program. (Also AACSB accredited).

        I'm taking 3 classes - one is 16 weeks and the other 2 are 8 weeks each (so 2 at a time). I recieved my BS from a traditional university - driving to campus, taking notes, doing papers, etc. - back in 2005 so it is a culture shock to me.

        So far I'm noticing that about 90% of the learning is done on your own and if you don't budget your time well, you're screwed. You definitely cannot be a procrastinator and pursue a degree online. But, with a full time job and a family, I figured it would be my best bet. I'm not currently working in LE in any form (and probably never will again - besides a Reserve Officer), so I can't really tell you anything from that perspective. BUT, I do work afternoon shift (1500-2300) and I have every other weekend off, so I have the luxury of a quiet house in the mornings to study while the kids are at school. I was off this past weekend and the wife was good about taking the kids out of the house so I could do some catch-up from last week (we lost power for a day and a half due to a storm) so family is definitely something to consider. Personally, I wouldn't take any more than 2 classes at a time. Good luck!

        Edited to add: There were many times during my undergrad where I purchased a textbook and NEVER even looked at it. Just went to class, paid attention, participated, and took notes. Online? Well, so far I've read 5 chapters for one class and 1 chapter for the other - with another 4 to read this week. There aren't any "lectures" per se - so a vast majority of the information is from reading the textbook (the chapters NEVER END!!!!), taking quizzes/tests, participating in online discussion threads, and research papers. One class I even have to participate in a "live session." Weird.
        Last edited by Aerohead; 09-02-2014, 10:33 PM.
        Originally posted by RSGSRT
        We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
        Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello, I've registered this website a long time a ago and I just signed back on again today.

          Stay with me, this is going to be a lengthy rambling of my graduate school experience thus far. I apologize in advance for the syntax, spelling and grammatical errors in advance (little proofreading here!)

          I'm in SoCal and I went to brick-and-mortar at a California State University for my BS in Administration of Justice (very typical!). I received a Bachelor's Degree in 1998, attending full-time during the weekdays while working patrol weekend-night shifts. At the same time I was in the Marine Reserve living in Los Angeles area at travelling to my unit at the Marine Air Base Miramar in San Diego!

          At the Bachelor's level, there was lot of textbook reading, memorization and understanding of basic CJ concepts. There was no critical thinking or analysis. In 2002, I returned to the same school and attended full-time Master's Program in CJ. Again, a lot of taking notes, some readings, and mostly memorization for tests - no/little classroom discussion or critical analysis - Just listening to the professor yapping for 1-2 hours! I did not learn much except regurgitated the recycled materials. I only attended 2 quarters because I changed employment to a another LEA.

          Fast forward to March 2013, I began attending the American Military University (an OUTSTANDING online regional accredited university) taking Master of Arts in Homeland Security, with a Concentration in Intelligence. This has been a world of difference in terms of learning as compared to my previous actual classroom graduate experience. My online courses are well structured in an 8-week session - go by very quick but long also. The syllabus layout exactly the lesson plan for the course. And each week, the professors post readings, videos, lectures, lesson notes, and questions for discussions. Here's some breakdown of my online graduate study thus far:

          Workload:

          Reading: There's a lot more than you ever imagine but manageable if you prioritize your time (I'm a full-time detective with a family, dog, hobbies, side business, etc.). A lot of reading: especially peer-reviewed, academically researched articles, books: hundreds and hundreds of serious critical reading.

          Writing: Unlike the Bachelor's level, the writing in my Master's program involved heavily in critical thinking and proper citations of literary sources (strict adherence to Tiburian, AMA, Chicago Styled citations). It is structured and your arguments, opinions, are well supported by literary sources (basically can't just talk out of your *** and bull****ing!).

          Discussion Posts: In my school, the week starts on Sunday. I have until Thursday night to post an articulated and well supported discussion 500-1200+ words discussions. By Sunday night, end of the week, I need to respond 2-4 other students with an engaging 250-1000 words discussion posts. In actuality, I do more discussions, readings, and critical thinking in an online graduate program than a traditional school.

          Research Paper: Typically, I wrote 2 or 3 researched papers in a class, anywhere from 10-15 pages, not including the title page and the bibliography page. I work 4-10, so I'll read and do discussion post during the week. During the weekend, I would literally, sit in one place for 12 hours on Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday to write my research paper. I've learn so much in writing and improving my research and writing skills at the graduate level - completely different from the Bachelor's level where you just recite. At the graduate level, I have to do critical analysis, comparative study (qualitative or quantitative), literary review, conduct case study/scenario, policy paper (persuasive on particular issues). This type of paper is publishable due to supported and cited sources used for credibility and foundation.

          Reading: Sources can be from text books. However, a lot of courses, the professors provide linked to researched articles and studies in form of PDF files - lots of them for the week. Furthermore, doing weekly discussion, I can either based by sources from weekly reading or my outside researched sources (online library/colleges/professional, academic, and government publicatoins - NO WIKIPEDIA - unverified and not credible!)

          Environment:

          Fellow Students: I'm very humbled and impressed by the fellow classmates' professional experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge. In my school, AMU, especially my major, Homeland Security (HS), most of my classmates are military officers with vast intelligence, HS, and federal agency experiences. They are very articulated and knowledgeable. I've only came across 4-5 other LEOs in my last 10 courses so far - maybe more LEOs in CJ courses. These folks ranged from 23 years old to retired military of 60 years old - extreme knowledge and experience, living throughout U.S. and abroad. Sometimes, I learned more from engaging in the discussion posts with other students than the professor's comments.

          Professors: All of my have had very impressive credential from the upper management level and recognized expert (some internationally) in their fields: military, federal agency, intelligence community, and one law enforcement commander with a PHD.

          Time: The deadline for discussion posts, tests, and papers are clearly indicated. However, we are working professional and the professors do understand. There were a couple of times I was really ill or had some tactical operations at work that I did not had time to complete my assignment on time. The professors were understanding since I gave them reasonable notice. However, prioritize your workload, manage them accordingly, and break them down to small intervals throughout the week. Learn to read faster.

          So, to answer you questions: 1. The Master's workload is much more challenging and more volume-wise than a bachelor's degree
          2. My online course workload is way much more than I ever had in a regular classroom -3 to 5 times more.
          3. For me, I was crazy taking two courses at the time, over lapping. I would start an 8-week course. By the fourth week, I would take a second course so don't have the same time for papers and finals. I got all A's in my classes so far. But honestly, I was burning candles from both ends - didn't have time to spend with family and always tired at work. Also, I was cranky and an ******* for the lack of sleep.

          I'm much happier and more effective taking one course at the time. I just finished my 10th course with an A again. 3.96 GPA so far - (one A-). You can definitely accomplish it! I don't think I'm that smart just work really hard. I have one class left and then the final capstone/project/thesis course of 16 weeks. I must write a publishable 50-100 page critically researched paper for the final project.

          Based on my experience, the online graduate study requires you to read, think, and discuss with full intellectual engagement.

          This has been the most rewarding and challenging thing I've done academically and intellectually. Nothing else compares to my online graduate study, bar-none. People who talked craps because I never experienced it or attended a diploma mill. I definitely earned my keep with sweats and long hours at AMU. Currently, I'm taking a month break before the next course. I'll be done by April next year which about 2 years to complete. The school allows 7 years to finish the Master's program.

          As a final note, I say YOU go for it and do not look back (Yeah, I'm motivated! I was also a DI at local regional Police Academy!) The study at the graduate level will change how you think, read, critically analyze, and write. I've improved tremendously and can now research and write a 20-page literary paper in 2 days. You can do it also and you're not crazy. Maintain your focus and find a quiet place with absolutely no distraction to study. My kids would bring lunch and dinner to me when I'm writing my papers. The support of your family and understanding of your colleagues would also play major roles in your success. Most of all, prioritize and manage your time to study wiselyso you won't play catch up an stay ahead. Think positive and start study early in the week.

          Time will pass whether you do something or do nothing. I've done so much since March 2013 besides work and family. Good luck and feel free to send me a message or question. By the way I've been a LEO since 1994 and a District Attorney Investigator for LA County for the past decade. I wouldn't mind getting a second Master or PHD. Thinking about teaching college or consulting after this gig. I always have a plan B! Good luck with your educational pursuit and journey.

          Stay safe and Semper Fi.

          More stuff I've forgotten:

          ADDITIONALLY: the exams and finals are open book but very comprehensive. A four question exam would take me 8-12 hours to complete into an 8-12 page essays, minus title page and reference page. Again, critical analysis, examining policy, hypothetical or scenarios, in_depth understanding of an issue and/or take a supported stance with evidence -backed up by other literary sources.

          Organization: For each course, I created a folder for that course with its syllabus placed inside. . And within the course folder, I created a folder for each week (8= 8 weeks), containing each week's assignment, downloaded lecture and lesson, my post draft, reading sources and any other related docs., also a separate folder for each research paper or exam.

          I have at least 10 folders for past 10 courses, containing hundreds of articles, publications, researches, my works and papers. I have used these as reference for subsequent sources.

          However, plagiarism is absolutely unacceptable and not tolerated which could lead to dismissal. AMU uses a anrtificial intelligence software called TURNITIN ,(TURN IT IN) that checked/scanned all my writing submissions from a vast database of all all students' submissions from AMU and other universities. The higher the percentage matching (except for the quotes and referenced sources in bibliography) the higher indication of plagiarism - under 15% is good to go.

          I was never an organized person but I have to for my study and keep all my courses materials and works neatly for future reference. This itself is a great lesson. I also organized my favorite bookmarks of online reading links the same systematic way prior downloading or printing them as saved PDF files. Be unorganized will cost you little time you already don't have in the first place.

          Last thing, I do communicate via emails and messages with other students and professors to clarify assignment instructions. sooner is better since participants live in various parts of the world and varying time zones. AMU is in West Virginia, EST time, which is 3 hours ahead of my time, PST time in SoCal - thus, I lose 3 hours from the assignment submission deadline time, which had been critical at times. So be mindful whether your online school is the same timezone as yours.

          I probably missed something. However, I've presented my online learning experience as much as I could, which had been positive and effective. I think if you work hard and stay organized, you'll excel and enjoy the mental stimulation. Best of luck.

          I wish someone had told me all these tips from the get go. So, here you go.

          BTW, loved Georgia's red earth, hot/humid Indian Summer, and nice folks. I was stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta almost a year (92-93) for MOS Crypto School . Visited Atlanta and Savannah. Had a great Southern time.
          Last edited by DAILE; 09-04-2014, 02:05 AM. Reason: More ramblings....yapping!

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          • #6
            @ DAILE:

            I'm classified as an undergraduate freshman in college, but I must say, your post was extremely helpful and informative.

            Thank you for sharing!

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            • #7
              Thanks, Talal. I've added some more thoughts to help prospective students. Best of luck with your pursuit of higher learning. You're quite welcome.

              Edit: When I said folder, I obviously meant desktop folder on my laptop computer, not physical vanilla folder. I also have duplicate/back-up copies saved elsewhere in case of computer/hard drive crashes. The great thing about online school is that I can study, read, and write anytime/where with my smartphone or tablet (like now while riding the train to work).
              Last edited by DAILE; 09-04-2014, 08:51 AM. Reason: Desktop folder.

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              • #8
                School sucks. Don't do it!!
                Originally posted by RSGSRT
                We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
                Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is an interesting discussion because a few times I looked into what was available for an on-line degree in fine art or related, the costs, and what if any benefit I might obtain, I didn't really find any direct benefit beyond having a degree might look impressive in a resume or web site bio.

                  Part of my artist statement includes this:

                  I certainly do not profess or claim to have an impressive looking fourteen, or even two degrees and titles in fine art as some artists can cite on their websites. I believe titles belong on the bookshelf and have little use for the practical sculptor or artist. Titles and degrees certainly do look impressive on a web site or resume, but they don't create artwork: the sculptor's mind, heart, spirit and hands do!
                  I suppose if I was seeking employment as an art teacher or the like it would be valuable, but for my purposes I don't seen any practical use/benefit to me, though it would be cool to obtain a degree, the cost and time factor are way up there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately, a part-time teaching opportunity with new police recruits that I would like to pursue requires a master's degree. As an added bonus, I will get a raise at the full-time job as well.

                    Thanks to everyone for the insight provided. DAILE, I can't believe you took the time to type so much info but I did read it all and appreciate it.

                    Hopefully, in about two years, I'll be able to provide my own advice to prospective graduate students.
                    Sign here. Press hard. You are making five copies.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You are one lucky fellow!!! :-) I wish I had the chance to go back to school but I became so driven being a full time wife and mother. No regrets though but I wish I could have gone back to school. That is really one of the few things I would want to complete in this lifetime.

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                      • #12
                        As a follow-up, I just completed my Master's Degree in Homeland Security with a concentration in Intelligence Study on 06/21/15. I will confer/graduate on 08/15/15. This was worthwhile after a long, hard, and rewarding 2-1/2 years!

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