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Madison Dell

Madison Dell 2015 Graduate, Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration

"I now feel that I am equipped with the requisite credential and with the appropriate knowledge to be a successful higher education professional."

Degree Earned:

Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration

Job title and company:

Research Specialist for Academic Affairs, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Social media link:

How has earning this degree changed your career outlook?

Completing a master's degree has opened up many more career opportunities from me. Frequently, even entry-level positions in advising or institutional research require (or strongly prefer) candidates with a master's degree. I now feel that I am equipped with the requisite credential and with the appropriate knowledge to be a successful higher education professional.

What was your single biggest takeaway from the program?

The best part of the program was being able to take classes from both higher education scholars and practitioners. Not only was I able to increase my theoretical knowledge of higher education, but I also learned how to apply this knowledge in various institutional settings. I feel that my professors prepared me well for dealing with the many challenges facing higher education professionals today.

How much time a week did you spend on your studies?

20-25 hours

Describe how having an online option made a degree more accessible for you.

In order to finance my education, I needed to work full time while going to school. When I started the program, I already had a great job at a university, so I wanted to keep my job and work on my master's simultaneously. The online option made this possible, and I couldn't have been more pleased with my experience.

What was one of the biggest challenges during the program, and how did you overcome it?

Time management was my greatest challenge during the program. I worked full-time and took as many classes as I could each semester, so I had to set a very strict study schedule. Early mornings were the best times for me to read, so I spent a couple hours each morning completing my readings. Evening were the best times for me to write, so I spent a couple hours each evening writing my discussion posts and papers. Setting goals each week and sticking to my deadlines helped me stay on track both at work and at school.

Why did you choose LSU's online degree over the other options?

I had three primary considerations when I was choosing a master's program. First, the program had to have a concentration in higher education, since I'm not interested in working in K-12 schools. Second, the program had to be online so I could keep my job and work full-time while going to school. Third, I wanted to be sure I was getting a good education for a good price. LSU offered the program I wanted in the modality I needed for a great value.

What advice would you give to a prospective student who is considering this program?

I would advise a prospective student to consider whether he or she has the discipline to complete an online program. There's a significant amount of freedom in an online program, which can be a double-edged sword. For students like me who want to work full-time and need the flexibility of online coursework, this program is perfect. However, motivating yourself to complete assignments in a timely manner can be more difficult when you don't see your professor in person two or three times a week.

What helped you get through the program the most? What helped you make it to the finish line?

The most encouraging aspect of the program was the high level of engagement of the professors. In nearly all of my classes, I felt that the professors were invested in us students and were committed to facilitating an excellent experience in the course. Since I put a great deal of effort into my coursework, it is very rewarding to see that level or reciprocity from the professors.

Describe your family's thoughts and feelings about you earning your degree.

My family encouraged me throughout the program and was proud of me when I finished. I don't think they really understood what I was doing, though, since nobody in my immediate family has attempted or completed a graduate degree.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would choose the same program all over again, without hesitation! I absolutely loved my experience at LSU. The only thing I would do differently is engage more on the discussion boards. Being so busy with school and full-time work, I didn't have a lot of spare time to foster relationships with my classmates. After meeting some of my classmates at graduation, I wish I had gotten to know them better earlier in the program.

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