#PROFspective: Feeling Like a Member of the Student Body Through the Online Learning Experience

Exterior image of Rowan Welcome Center as seen from Rowan Boulevard

Meet Liberal Studies major Krystal Mannering from Atlantic County, NJ. Krystal, a first-generation college student, works full-time while running a business, providing for her household and taking care of a toddler. Read her perspective on how Rowan has made her feel “accepted and welcomed” as an online student. 

Selfie of Krystal Mannering

Being an online student for most of my educational career, the need for a connection with a physical campus might seem like a translucent goal. Common speculation is online students aren’t receiving “the college experience” that an in-person student receives.

For many online colleges and educational facilities, this statement is true. I’ve attended two other online colleges throughout my career, and Rowan University is the first online program where I’ve felt like an actual member of the student body.

From the moment I called Rowan, I felt accepted and welcomed. My heart had just been broken by my current school at the time, and as I was sobbing uncontrollably, I began calling multiple schools and explained my situation. The first Rowan advisor I spoke to was faced with the challenge of my vulnerability but ensured me that even as an online student, my role had a place.

I work a full-time job, have a home to provide for, a business, and a toddler to take care of, so online schooling is my only option. Two other schools stated they couldn’t help me, and another didn’t answer the phone. The advisors at Rowan greeted me with a cheerful attitude and helped me every step of the way. Even though I live an hour away, the Rowan staff took the necessary time I needed to feel comfortable with my decision.

Rowan student orientation outside Wilson Hall
A 2019 Rowan student orientation session

As I entered my first semester, I was armed with eagerness and fear. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t sure that I was going to feel the acceptance that I craved. I joined Rowan’s social media platforms and I was quickly comforted by fellow Rowan students. One student suggested that I attend the campus orientation and I signed up for the next available event (highly recommended!).

Walking through the Rowan campus reassured my decision to attend Rowan as an online student. It felt right to walk through the halls, dorms and college grounds. Each orientation leader was extremely informative to the incoming freshman students, and each demonstration I attended that day began to further confirm my choice.

The orientation leaders expressed that online students are offered the same accommodations as in-person students. My friend (and now fellow classmate) and I walked through the streets of the campus, and we were presented with cheerful little shops, wonderful eateries, statues and artifacts plastered throughout the campus.

Drone shot of Richard Wacker Stadium
Richard Wacker Stadium

As the event concluded, my friend and I decided to make our way out to Richard Wacker Stadium, the stadium that I will graduate in. Being eligible to attend a physical graduation as an online student is very important to me and is one of the many perks of studying online with Rowan University. As we stepped foot onto the track that surrounds the beautiful stadium, the reality of my choice to attend Rowan began to set in.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I was so thankful to have found Rowan University. The online classes are more organized than other schools that I’ve attended. The professors are extremely involved, and helpful if you maintain a consistent work ethic. The alumni at Rowan reassured me that my needs weren’t burdensome. Class sizes are manageable, and classmates are a welcoming wealth of knowledge. Each day, I continue to be thankful for my choice to attend Rowan University as an online student. My future is clear now that I’m a PROF!

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Story by:
Krystal Mannering, liberal studies major