Going Back to School

The News Magazine of HCU

By Dr. Steven D. Peterson, vice president of HBU Online/Digital Learning

Over the last several decades, there has been a significant shift in education. Students now have considerably more obligations outside of the classroom than ever before. As a result, Houston Baptist University developed the Pinky Pampell Online Division in an effort to make quality education available to students with demanding family and work schedules, by offering eight undergraduate and 11 graduate degrees entirely online.

The response to our academic programs has been remarkable. We are seeing great interest from the Houston area as well as the entire state of Texas, and even nationally. We are providing quality education to nontraditional students, the students who need education to fit into their already busy lives with a clear path to completion.

However, making the decision to go back to school understandably comes with certain apprehensions. While these concerns are definitely valid, HBU has gone to great lengths to assist students in overcoming these fears, and to provide a strong support system that promotes student success.

We’ve compiled a list of common concerns that we address with prospective and new students, as well as some information that may be helpful for those considering making the decision to pursue a higher education.

“I am not a technically savvy person.”

We often hear from students who have a desire to return to school, but are concerned about the technological requirements. We like to say, if you can browse the internet and check your email, you have all the technical training you need to navigate our courses. HBU provides all of our course content in a learning management system called Blackboard. Blackboard organizes all the course material in a way that helps students work through a course step-by-step. A student simply clicks on a link, logs into the class, and works through the material in a sequential manner. HBU also has a full-service help desk on standby to provide students with technical assistance whenever they may need it.

“I haven’t been to school in 15 years.”

For some, it may be years since they have been a student, while others may be well-seasoned learners. Whatever the case may be, going back to school is an exciting time. Most students are highly motivated to complete their degree, but some are cautious since it has been a long time since they sat in a classroom. Our goal is to make the transition of going back to school as easy as possible. That’s why we developed an online learning orientation course (ONLN 1100) in which all first-semester students are enrolled, specifically to help familiarize them with our online courses. So, the first course students take is one that assists them in navigating our Blackboard software and introduces them to the digital learning environment.

“I could never afford to go back to school.”

When Dr. Sloan, President of Houston Baptist University, made the decision to launch the Pinky Pampell Online Division, he was insistent that we did two things:

  • Develop programs that would help working adults accomplish their educational goals
  • Keep tuition affordable so that students can complete their degrees in a timely manner

We have a first-rate financial aid department that exists to assist students in obtaining the financial resources they need to accomplish their educational goals.

“I can’t fit school into my life right now.”

One of the things we realize in the Pampell Online Division is that our students have responsibilities outside of their courses. For many, those are family obligations. While we know that your degree is important, we believe that nothing should get in the way of family. We understand that there are work obligations, and that your job provides for your family. We also know that many of our students have responsibilities within their church and community. These are just a few of the reasons why we assign an enrollment advisor to each of our students. We want to come alongside our students and help them navigate both their courses and assignments. That is the beauty of online education: you can choose to go to class when it is convenient for you. Online education should fit into your schedule, not the other way around.

Lastly, one of our most common inquiries is, “Can I participate in graduation?” The answer is ABSOLUTELY! Graduation is a great time of celebration with your family, friends and HBU community who have all encouraged you along the way. We invite and encourage all of our online students to participate in commencement exercises.

So, we want to encourage you, don’t put off what you have been thinking about for years. Enroll in HBU Online and finish the degree you’ve always wanted.

To learn more about the HBU Online Programs, visit: HC.edu/Online-Learning/