Abbotsford, B.C., Can., resident Elaine Newman is probably the first Canadian to graduate with her master’s degree in academic advising from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., which she did in May 2010.
After working in academic advising for a number of years at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, the married mother of two school-age children decided to build on her bachelor’s degree in adult education.
She found K-State through NACADA (the National Academic Advising Association, based at K-State) and a recommendation from a colleague. She first completed K-State’s academic advising graduate certificate, and once the university started offering the master’s degree, she was on board.
“I decided to continue on, because I was enjoying the program so much. It was fabulous to be able to work full-time while completing my degree,” Newman said.
She was very pleased with her experience with K-State, including the responsiveness of the faculty and the flexibility of the program.
“The quality of education and commitment of faculty were wonderful. It was really rewarding to be able to complete something that I don’t think I would have been able to complete in a face-to-face environment,” Newman said. “The commitment of going to class at certain times, and working, and raising two young children would not have been an option for me.”
She also lauded the support she received from the K-State Division of Continuing Education.
“I work at a university, so I know what the level of support can be like, and they went above and beyond in many circumstances. For instance, they pulled a textbook from Varney’s (Book Store) for me and mailed it to me in time for a class I’d registered for late — that was the type of over-and-above service they provided.”
Newman set foot in Manhattan for the very first time on the day she graduated. She and her husband flew to Kansas City and drove west a couple of hours to the K-State campus.
“As an advisor, I often tell students that the ceremony is a nice way to have closure to something you’ve completed. It’s a great way to recognize your accomplishment,” she said. “Dean Holen (of the K-State College of Education) put on a brunch at the country club for everyone, so we attended that, and then went to the ceremony. It made me feel special and was well worth the trip.”
Newman was pleased and surprised to meet some classmates who, up until then, had only been names on a screen.
“I recognized the names of the three other students who were there—at some point, we’d all taken a class together. It was a really, really good experience.”
Newman highly recommends distance education and K-State’s program.
“It’s a great opportunity for many people who wouldn’t have that opportunity otherwise.” Newman said. “It takes some discipline to work for hours each week. You have to be a self-directed learner and have strong time management and organization skills. It’s a different environment, but even though it’s online, there is a person at the other end of the line!”