The online learning experience has been amazing, starting in 2012 with my Master’s degree and finishing with a Ph.D. in August of 2018. I was equally terrified and ecstatic about beginning my first semester at Capella University. My counselor, John, was instrumental in helping me get situated in doing my first online course. John and I still interact on Facebook. Receiving advising and counseling set the foundation for a course of action that lead to successful outcomes.

There were plenty of factors that proved to be barriers to seeking my degree, including mentally demanding challenges at work. I always kept this quote in the back of my mind, “it is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us” Steven Covey (2004). In other words, I knew that there would always be challenges and how I choose to deal with them would dictate the outcome of obtaining my degree. Before starting school, I prepared my family and made some arrangement in our home to accommodate a quiet studying environment. Choosing to home-school our children also had an impact on my decision to return to school. Having the peace of mind that came with a loving healthy relationship with my husband, and not having to worry about my children’s welfare, allowed me to focus on the task of achieving a Master’s degree. Using the Montgomery GI Bill to pay for my education contributed greatly to my financial situation.

I will always remember the first instructor in the MSN program. Dr. Mary D was active, humorous, and a master in using funny images to introduce each week’s unit and was easily accessible. Dr. D’s behaviors set the stage for the months and years to follow. I also had instructors who were not as attentive and present in the course room; however, I did not feel I needed that same amount of support as I did initially. Matter-of-fact, I was content simply knowing the instructor was available to clarify information and to provide feedback on my progress. A plethora of assessment and evaluation tools were employed in the MSN program, which aligned with a diversity of student and learning styles. In the first year of the MSN program, some of the issues I encountered were time management, disorganization, and being new to the online community with limited computer knowledge and skills. As I progressed in the program the time sink issue evaporated slowly though.

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