Students find support from professors and peers in online programs

From social work to clinical research and beyond, students from across Ohio State’s online programs cite caring faculty mentors and strong peer networks with setting them up for success in their classes and their careers. We asked our online students to share how this support made a difference in their educational journeys and what it means to them to have a community to rely on – even from a distance.

Achieving success in spite of difficult circumstances

Tomitha Zimmerman, a graduate of the online Master of Social Work program, is from North Carolina. During her program, she encountered many personal hardships, including sustaining damage to her home during Hurricane Florence and losing her father.

“I was in a panic, stressed about family, safety and school. My biggest support and greatest strength came from my professors,” Zimmerman said.  “During both situations Dr. Gerald Bean reached out to me to check on my well-being. He gave me ample time to catch up on work. I have never had such a personal experience from a professor, especially a distance professor.”

Zimmerman said that throughout this adversity, it was the kindness and flexibility from her professors and the program staff that encouraged her to keep going, even when her own resolve was faltering.

“I could not have faced so many obstacles without the support, strength and guidance from the faculty and staff. Even when times were tough, they believed in me, so I believed in me.”

Finding a network of like-minded peers and lifelong friends

For Larry Martin, a graduate of the online Master of Applied Clinical and Preclinical Research program, the best of part of earning his degree online was finding a strong community of peers and developing friendships that continued even after graduation.

“A core group of us who took classes together still meet once a month for tea. I would have never come across most of these people if we didn’t do this program together,” Martin said.

According to Martin, the support system the group formed during their online program continued as they embarked on different career paths in the research field. Now, instead of discussing class projects, the group shares workplace challenges and growth opportunities.

“I see it as a work relationship, because we all discuss potential career opportunities that might exist for each other,” Martin said. “But, even more importantly, we encourage each other to keep going.”

Building industry connections and gaining hands-on experience

Cara North, a graduate of the online Master of Learning Technologies program, found it easy to build up industry connections and grow her network, something that jumpstarted her career after graduation. North cites the support she received from faculty with opening doors for her to network in her field.

“One of my instructors shared an opportunity to present at a conference,” North said. “I teamed up with a few classmates, and we presented together. It provided a chance for us to work together, network and build connections.”

North was able to extend her network through the online program and forge connections that have helped her both personally and professionally.   

“Ohio State is a large institution with a lot of possibilities and opportunities,” said North. “You will meet people who you can connect with and who will connect you with others.”


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