Going back to school always comes with a degree of uncertainty—especially when you’re considering an innovative flexible UW online degree, such as University of Wisconsin Flexible Option. As with most big decisions, the more information you have up front, the better.
To get the most reliable and up-to-date info about earning a UW Flexible Option degree or certificate, we went to the experts: UW Flexible Option Success Coaches. Serving as much more than a traditional academic adviser, a coach also fills the roles of mentor, resource specialist, problem-solver, and all-around student advocate.
Success Coaches spend their days listening to adult learners’ questions, needs, triumphs, and concerns. Here are 11 things they wish everyone knew before enrolling in a UW Flexible Option program.
Set Realistic Expectations
1. “Students need to know that flexible UW online degree programs are academically rigorous. In UW Flexible Option, you progress and earn credit based on what you know—but that doesn’t mean you can take a multiple-choice exam and earn a degree. Instead, you demonstrate your knowledge through a series of papers, exams, and other projects.”
Realize that Success Coaching Is Personalized
2. “I don’t want the students I coach to feel like a number because each one is different and has different needs. But how often we connect is up to the student. Some students I talk with on a regular basis, and others less frequently. Of course, any time students have specific questions or need guidance, we want them to reach out.”
3. ”In UW online degree programs like UW Flexible Option, I think it’s important to stay connected to at least one person—a person who you know and can go to if you ever need help.”
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
Master Time Management…
4. “I coach many students who work full time and have many responsibilities, like caring for both children and aging parents. In UW Flexible Option, those who can manage their time well are most successful.”
…But Don’t Feel Bad About Adjusting Your School Schedule
5. “UW Flexible Option is a great choice for nurses, since face-to-face instruction and even traditional online programs with deadlines might be impossible for those with variable shifts. These students never know what will happen during their workday. If they are delivering a baby at the end of a shift, they can’t simply say, ‘I have to go to class—see you later!’ With UW Flexible Option, they don’t have to worry about working a 12-hour shift and coming home to finish an exam by midnight.”
6. “The beauty of UW Flexible Option is you can take time off if you need it. Many students take breaks for week-long vacations or summer, so they can enjoy extra time with their kids.”
7. “Many of our students have enrolled in the program so they could move up at work or change careers. But once they started the competency sets, their employment situation changed. Because of the program’s flexibility, they didn’t have to drop out or miss deadlines. They only had to adjust their schedules and tweak the way they do coursework in order to finish their degree.”
Avoid Common Pitfalls
8. “Students who procrastinate or are unable to balance their student, home, and work lives struggle in UW Flexible Option. But if you have strong time management and study skills, you will thrive.”
9. “When we’re growing up and trying to learn things, somewhere along the way, we pick up a sense of pride and independence—which is great! But don’t let that pride get in the way of asking for help when you need it. Online learning presents specific challenges. Sometimes you can figure out things on your own, but sometimes you can’t. That’s why we’re here for you.”
10. “One thing that catches new students off guard is that they need to be curious and want to research things. Competencies do not come with step-by-step instruction guides. UW Flexible Option students have to be independent and curious learners.”
Remember the Goal if Things Get Tough
11. “At some point, the balancing act of school and life could get really difficult, and you may ask yourself, ‘Is this worth it?’ I thought the same thing while earning my degree. You need to figure out what will keep you going during those moments of doubt, because it’s worth it. Once you earn that credential, you will carry it for the rest of your life. And no one can take that away from you.”
Thanks to Success Coaches Kristin Hoffmann, Mike Exum, Aaron Faucher, and Danielle Stertz for providing the success tips in this post!
If you have a question for the Success Coaches, feel free to ask it in the comments section and they will answer it for you!
To find out more about UW Flexible Option, please download the information kit to the right or contact an enrollment adviser at 1-877-895-3276 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a list of degree and certificate programs offered in the online Flexible Option format, please see the programs page.