By Michael Stempien, February 2016
Although I have just begun my path towards earning a Financial Crime and Compliance MS from Utica I am no stranger to online classes. I graduated in 2006 from the University of Delaware and took about as many online classes that would fit into my curriculum as I could. I was on pace to graduate in 3 ½ years thanks to taking summer and winter online classes, but accepted a job offer to be a Police Officer in the fall semester of my senior year. Thanks to online classes I was able to continue moving towards my degree while simultaneously in the police academy and ended up graduating on time in the Spring.
1. Challenging Curriculum
Online classes might be looked at by some as easy and perhaps even dismissed as not being as challenging as classes that require you to actually be on campus. That’s far from the truth. I found online classes to be right on par with any on-site class and perhaps even more challenging as they require you to plan your own schedule and set time to sit down and do the work. If you are not focused you’ll find that no one is making you go a certain time or day to a room to do the work for the class. There is no one taking attendance. It’s all on you. It almost takes a more organized and focused student to take online classes.
2. Manage Your Own Schedule
With that being said I find online classes have great benefits over on campus classes. For one, online classes give you flexibility. You can make your own schedule to sit down and do the work which is a true benefit to people like me who have jobs and are taking these classes on the side. They’re especially beneficial to people who work odd hours, also like me, where if I had to go to a classroom I’d either have to burn vacation time or simply wouldn’t be able to attend.
3. Internet Access means Flexibility
Online classes give you additional flexibility to do the work wherever you want. Are you going on vacation for a week? Are you traveling for business? All you need is a laptop and an internet connection and you can take your class wherever you are. Often times an online class will allow you to work ahead, so if you know you have a conflict the following week or if it’s just going to be a busy work week for you, you can do the work a week prior and get a jump on it.
4. Small Class Sizes
The biggest difference I’ve noticed between ungraduated online classes and the graduate class I’m now taking at Utica is class size. When taking online undergraduate classes I really wouldn’t be aware of how many students were in my class. In certain ones there wasn’t much interaction between students taking the class, so you would have no idea who or how many people are taking the class with you.
At Utica College, the class size is very small. I believe we started at around 14 people, which is significantly smaller than other undergrad classes I’ve taken. One of the first things the professor did was have everyone introduce themselves on the discussions board. In this class there’s a lot of interaction between classmates via the discussion board and the professor encourages ongoing debate and discussion.
5. Great Access to Faculty
In my class at Utica there’s also direct interaction with the professor which is something I didn’t experience taking undergrad online classes. The Professor requested that everyone set up a one on one call with her to go over your class progress and any comments or concerns. She also repeatedly said that if anyone has any issues to simply email her and she’d respond back right away.
I hope this was helpful to anyone interested in taking online graduate classes at Utica College.
About the Author
Mike Stempien is a first year Utica College MS in Financial Crime and Compliance grad student. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2006 with a BA in Criminal Justice, and currently works as a Police Investigator in the Financial Crimes Unit of a PD in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Mike is the departmental instructor in "property crimes." At work he investigates all types of white collar crime ranging from large embezzlements to credit card fraud cases.