If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember this post from a few years ago: The one where I decide to go back to college.
I wrote a little about how I never graduated from college the first time I went – and it was ok, because I had decided to serve a mission, and then I had decided to marry my husband and we moved to a new state, and then we decided to start having kids – and I wouldn’t have traded any of that, or wished it in a different order. It just meant that my goal of a college degree would have to sit on the back burner for a while.
The Pathway program came to my area and I went to a meeting to learn about it, but only as part of my calling. It wasn’t until I was back home explaining it to my husband and he suggested that maybe it would be a good fit for me. We decided to have faith and go for it.
So in the fall of 2014, our kids were starting 5th grade, 3rd grade, and Kindergarten. And I started my first year of online classes. They were very basic that year, 2 classes for each of 3 semesters (14 weeks long each) Plus we had to meet in person one night a week for that whole school year. Each semester had a religion class and either Math, English, or Life Skills. Learn more about Pathway Connect here. The biggest benefit to me was that I could go on to earn a degree from BYU-Idaho, completely online, for a discounted price. Whatever the current Pathway price per credit is, that’s the online credit price. So in my most recent semester, I paid $69 per credit. Amazing, right?
Almost all of my general requirements for BYU-Idaho were taken care of by classes I had taken on campus at BYU in Provo during my first round of college. Religion class requirements had changed so there were 2 or 3 classes I still had to take. But everything else was classes for my major of Web Design.
Some things were pretty frustrating about taking classes online. Often there was a delay in getting any questions answered. If I emailed an instructor, it might take 24 hours for them to get back to me. Sometimes as students we were left to try to figure things out on our own in discussion boards.
But there were a lot of great things too – flexibility in the number of classes I took and being able to work on things in the evenings, or when the kids were in school. I mentioned the great price already. And, there’s a Facebook support group for Online Students that is really active and helpful.
Over the last year, I completed my required internship. I had originally planned on taking one semester to do an internship, and not take any other classes while doing it. It turns out that you kind of have to jump on internship opportunities when they arise though, and I was lucky enough to find a year-long, paid internship at the airport. Over this last year, while doing my internship, I completed the last 6 classes I needed. This let me graduate a whole semester earlier than I had first planned.
I was able to do everything from print and digital design to basic coding for departments all over the Port and the Airport. I learned so much and got to work on some really fun projects. And I got to find a patch of the original famous carpet.
For my senior project, I redesigned this blog – I’ll write another post soon about that process.
Then two weeks ago it was time for graduation! I finished up at my internship, and we drove out to Rexburg, ID. I know it would have been just as official if we’d stayed home, but I loved being able to have my name read and walk across the stage with my husband and kids cheering me on to receive my diploma (or at least the diploma cover!) This whole adventure really was a family effort, with everyone stepping up and making some sacrifices along the way.
So now, you ask, what’s next? It may seem silly to some, but for me, the most important thing was the education and not the career. I’m planning to keep staying home with my kids. I will keep blogging, and will look for design projects here and there to do for other people. I’ll be able to volunteer at school again, and in my community. I also have some projects around the house that have been ignored for the last year – or 3 – that I’m diving into.
As I wrote in my Instagram post last week:
Those dreams you have? Don’t give up on ’em. You might have to hold them in your back pocket for a while, while you work on other dreams, but you can get there ❤
Have questions about Pathway, or doing school online at BYU-I? Let me know! If you’re interested in seeing some of the work I’ve done, feel free to check out my portfolio site: stephaniepaxman.com