April 24, 2017
For many PathwayConnect students, the decision to continue their education online through BYU-Idaho is easy.
Online programs at BYU-Idaho are similar to PathwayConnect in a lot of ways — students take religion courses, the schedules work well with students’ busy lives, and tuition discounts are even offered for PathwayConnect alumni. But the transition to BYU-Idaho’s online program can be even easier with advice from students already in the program.
A few PathwayConnect alumni currently enrolled in a BYU-Idaho online program shared their advice for how to get the most of the matriculation experience:
Work with Academic Advisors
A valuable skill for students in an online program at BYU-Idaho is learning to create an academic plan and enroll in classes. Since online degree programs require students to map out their classes in a graduation plan, it is important for them to know what the requirements are for their major. If they don’t know what courses to take, the enrollment process could be a pain.
Kristen Blackburn, a student from Arizona, USA, explained the importance of these skills from her own enrollment experience. “When I enrolled to BYU-Idaho, I found that none of the degrees I wanted could be solely taken online,” she said.
Situations like that can be difficult for a student to work out alone, but there are resources available online and people they can talk to for guidance, support, and help.
“The counselors at the advising office were prompt in responding to my questions and were pleasant to talk to,” said Kristen. “My academic counselor helped me work out a plan to minimize the amount of classes I will need to take at another university. I am grateful for that assistance.”
Manage Coursework and Study Habits
Another important aspect of transitioning to an online program is the amount of coursework to be completed each week. In PathwayConnect, the workload is lighter — students only take five credits. Students enrolled at BYU-Idaho, on the other hand, can take as many as they want. If a student is not careful, they could easily drown in homework.
Linda Esler, a student from Kansas City, Missouri, shared her advice on developing good study habits. “The best advice I have for online students is manage your time wisely,” she said. “Students should plan to devote a lot of time to their studies.” For more information on this, see the “Study Hours Formula” on BYU-Idaho’s counseling center page for time management.
Linda added that students should consider starting the first semester with a lighter load, adding more classes with time.
“It’s a good idea to only enroll in two courses right out of Pathway to get a feel for how online courses really are,” Linda said. “Adjustments can be made once you know about the time commitment and what you can handle. When I started, I only had two classes, and I’m so glad that’s how I did it.”
Find Support Without Gatherings
One of the great aspects of PathwayConnect is that students meet weekly with each other. These gatherings quickly become a student’s favorite part of the program. Many students don’t feel the same amount of personal support in their online degree programs at BYU-Idaho.
But just because the official gatherings have stopped doesn’t mean that students should stop supporting each other. Crystal Faucett, a current student from Phoenix, Arizona, explained how she found support after PathwayConnect. She said, “My advice to new PathwayConnect graduates would be to keep in touch with friends from the group.”
There are other resources available for students as well. Crystal explained, “Using online tools like Ask BYUI has been helpful in answering the questions I have. They do a good job directing me to the right people when they can’t help. This helped my transition to online classes go smoothly.”
Crystal also mentioned that some students might find it helpful to seek out an academic mentor — someone like another student who has been in the program for a few semesters and knows how it works. Having a friend to guide you through classes and encourage you to keep working hard can make a big difference.
Matriculation is a big step in a student’s educational life. Knowing how the system works and making a plan can help students be ready when the time comes to enroll in their online classes.
It may help to get in contact with other students who are going through the same experience. Those about to make the change can request to be added to the BYU-Idaho Online Support page on Facebook, which gives students a place to help and support one another. You can also make an appointment with BYU-Pathway Advising, who can help you with any matriculation questions you might have.
Whether students are in their first semester of PathwayConnect or about to complete the program, the best way to make a smooth transition to an online program at BYU-Idaho is by preparing now. By doing so, students will take their next step in the right direction as they continue toward achieving their academic goals.
Do you have any questions about matriculating to a BYU-Idaho online degree program? Take time to explore the program and the resources available. You can help others, too! Please share your concerns or advice with us in the comment section below.
This article is the first in a series dedicated to exploring the options PathwayConnect students have after finishing the program. Be sure to stay tuned for parts two and three in the coming weeks.