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Andrea's Story
“Every time I asked for help, RIT was there.”


For Becky, nontraditional education rules. She has spent her adult life taking college courses – to enhance her job skills, or simply to satisfy her curiosity. Throughout her multifaceted career, she’s also developed a wealth of competencies.

But until she sat down with RIT, she didn’t see a clear path to stitching together that patchwork into a bachelor’s degree.

Her goals, interests, and age didn’t fit with the student profiles at other area colleges, Becky says. Nor did those institutions seem as welcoming of her independent-study background.

“No other area college recognized my unconventional education as fully as RIT did,” she says. “Every time I asked for help, RIT was there, trying to make it work.”

RIT was liberal in transferring in a substantial number of credits, Becky says, and in allowing her to take CLEP exams to satisfy several general education and humanities requirements.

Thanks to that collaboration, Becky now proudly holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences from RIT, with three concentrations: Business Management and Economics, Management of Systems and Data, and Organizational Change and Leadership.

An early skeptic

Becky didn’t set out to be a champion of online learning. Though she holds an associate degree from SUNY Empire State College, she was initially skeptical that nontraditional education would command as much respect as a degree earned at a bricks-and-mortar institution.

“The discussion boards surprised me:
They brought me global interaction with other students
and with the instructors.”

She started out at RIT by taking traditional classes part-time. Then RIT offered her a Nathaniel Rochester Society scholarship, which would significantly lower the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree.

But there was a catch: The scholarship would require Becky to become a full-time student.

She decided to ramp up. With her stepchildren now grown and out of the house, “it was the perfect time to do it.” She left a job with long hours and took a more flexible one.

And that’s when she stumbled upon the advantages of RIT Online.

“As my responsibilities at work grew, and as my course load at RIT increased,” Becky says, “the online option was the thing that allowed me to stay on track and complete my degree.”

She would come into her office at 6:45 a.m. to do homework before starting her work day. She enjoyed accessing the course work at any time from any location. She benefited from having remote conversations with her professors.

Becky also liked learning from the foreign students in her online classes—especially about their thirst for technical education. The drive of her Russian and Chinese classmates pushed her to work harder to keep up, she says. She also discovered that language differences, often so obvious in a traditional classroom, presented no barrier online.

On the job, Becky continues to reap the benefits of her RIT Online degree. She led a systems change initiative in 2011, involving major hardware and software implementations and helping the staff adapt to new equipment.

“I had a background in accounting and was always good at IT,” she says, “but my education at RIT took me to the next level of managing systems and data.”