By Taryn Kuczynski, August 2015
Picking an online college is not an easy process. If you are too quick to choose, you could miss out on a better opportunity or find out that the school is not a good fit. I made an excellent decision when I chose Utica College and I'd like to share with you exactly what went into my search for the right school.
The first thing that I looked for was an online school that had a degree program that I was interested in — Cybersecurity. I also wanted the online school to have a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree program and Utica made the list.
Second, I needed a school that had an accredited program, because that would be important to future employers. When reading Utica College's Accreditation link I was very impressed. The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredits Utica College. In addition, "the BS degree program is a National Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) designated program. The CDFAE is part of the Department of Defense's Defense Cyber Crime Center whose mission is to "Deliver superior digital forensics and multimedia lab services, cyber investigative technical training, research, development, testing and evaluation, cyber analysis capabilities supporting cyber counterintelligence and counterterrorism, criminal investigations, intrusion forensics, law enforcement, intelligence community, critical infrastructure partners, and information operations for the DoD" (Utica College, n.d.). Then I read further and found that Utica College is designated by NSA/DHS as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense for academic years 2014-2019.
Convenience was the third issue for my family and myself. I needed a school that would be flexible with my schedule. The program works very well with my schedule as it would anyone's schedule. The online program allows you to take full time classes any time of the day with assignments due throughout the week and ample time to get them completed. For example, a full-time online student is able to take just two classes every 8 weeks to pursue their degree. After speaking with the staff over the phone, I was able to find out that I would have a week to complete most of my assignments and that I could work on my studies before work, on breaks, or after work.
Next I looked at student reviews of Utica and similar campuses. I could not find a campus whose reviews were consistent with the exception of Utica College. After studying these reviews for Utica and speaking with fellow professionals in cyber security related fields, I was sure I was making the right choice when selecting Utica College to pursue my degree in the Bachelor of Science Cybersecurity program.
Utica has an excellent reputation not only with its students, but also with the Cyber community. The professors' reviews were incredible too. They all had several years' experience in the cyber community and some studied at Utica College, which gave me even more confidence in the program.
Lastly, the staff at Utica made the transition back to college rather easy for me from enrolling, to financial aid, and registration. They were very supportive and continue to be. Currently, I am in the final stretch for my BS Cybersecurity degree and I plan on continuing here with the Master's degree program, because of the positive experience I have had during my BS Cyber program.
About the Author
Taryn Kuczynski is a senior (full time online student) at the School of Business and Justice Studies. She is a 33-year-old mother of two that had some speed bumps in her studies plan, but never gave up and is so close to the finish line. She is happily married to her best friend who is a Master's in Cybersecurity student at Utica. She loves to hang out with her family, work on cyber studies projects with her husband and his employers, plays tennis, loves to cook and enjoys photo editing. She has two labradoodles and a Bengal/ tabby mix that are her little babies too! After completing her Bachelor's Degree, she plans on working full time while continuing her education through the Master's program at Utica College.