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Reflections on an Online Degree

Reflections on an Online Degree


Dickens-AMUBy Blaine Dickens
Online Learning Tips, Guest Contributor

I recently walked at my graduate school commencement and shook hands with its president as I received my Master of Public Administration degree. It was a typical conclusion to a not-so-typical education journey. You see, I am a working adult, as were most of my fellow graduates. And, American Military University is fully online, so the commencement activities were my first opportunity to personally meet any of my classmates and teachers. Commencement was a great way to mark the achievement of not only earning my degree but it was also a celebration of the dedication that adult learners show every day in distance education.

I used to think that I had to defend my decision to attend an online school. I guess I felt that way because of all of the negative press about online education a few years ago. I support my university because of the quality education that it offers to adult learners like me who sought a college degree to help secure a new job or a promotion.

AMU’s online program was portable. I could travel with it; I could study during my lunch at work. Basically, I could go to school whenever I needed to. That doesn’t mean it was easy– far from it. Completing my program took a lot of dedication and self-discipline–the same qualities needed to achieve any worthwhile endeavor.

A friend told me that going to a well-known traditional school would be better if you need the degree to get a job. But I wanted more control over my education. I was unwilling to apply to a school that could deny me admission or that had costly  things like a  football team rolled up in the tuition. I just wanted an affordable degree from a highly- rated and regionally- accredited university.

My advanced degree from AMU is a primary reason that I am a presidential management fellow.  For more than three decades, the PMF program has been the federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree (e.g., masters or professional degree) candidates.

I am an educated consumer and therefore wanted to spend my money wisely. I did my due diligence to choose a school and program that met both my educational and lifestyle needs, and AMU met those criteria. I earned  bachelor’s and master’s degrees and I am applying what I learned on a daily basis on my current job as a contract specialist for the IRS. The PMF slogan is, “not everyone can be president, but you can be presidential.” Obtaining an online degree –with AMU could be that missing puzzle piece to could help you achieve your dreams.

About the Author:

U.S. Air Force and Army veteran Blaine Dickens served his country in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 before a 10 year stint with the Dallas Police Department as a patrol officer. He then decided to open his own mortgage company and took on many other projects. He is currently on detail with the criminal investigations division at the IRS. In 2012, he was named a Presidential Management Fellow. Dickens earned a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and a master’s in public administration from American Public University.