Megan Courington Welborn considered graduate school, but she wasn't sure how she could manage it with a full-time job. Then she received an email about distance learning degree program options offered through The University of Alabama.
“I was initially drawn to the master's degree program in Educational Psychology because of the flexibility. I needed a program that allowed me to work full-time while enrolled in graduate school,” Welborn said.
Welborn, who lives in Tuscaloosa, is a cook, a tennis player, a traveler and loves a good history book; however, it was her passion for education that inspired her to choose the Master of Arts in Educational Psychology program.
“Educational psychology is the study of how people learn. The master's degree program in Educational Psychology offered through The University of Alabama focuses on theory and research related to how people learn, as well as their learning and developmental processes,” Welborn said. “Upon completion of this program, I will have received specialized training in the field of psychological research. I will also have the skills to put my knowledge to practice in a variety of educational settings, ranging from elementary schools to universities. With this degree, I will strive to impact the lives of my students the way my previous teachers inspired and motivated me.”
In her current position as Manager of Marketing and Communications at The University of Alabama Office of Enrollment Management Technology Support, Welborn is able to take what she learns in the classroom and apply it to her job on a daily basis.
“A major part of my job involves training The University of Alabama Office of Undergraduate Admissions Regional Recruiters to use recruiting technology to bring students to UA. This degree will provide me with insight into how individuals learn and are motivated to learn,” said Wellborn. “I am able to help the recruiters—my students—use the recruiting technology better, faster and simpler so they can be more productive in their roles.”
For Welborn, this degree adds formal theory and pedagogy to her existing practical knowledge. Through the program's coursework she has developed an increased understanding of the methodology required to effectively teach and train others.
Advanced skills and a broadened education aren't the only benefits Megan has gained as a student enrolled in UA's master's degree program in Educational Psychology. Through personal and professional relationships with her classmates and professors, Megan has gained what she calls “a network of experts” she can call upon in the future. She even expressed a deeper connection to UA.
“Even though I was a distance learner, I never felt separated from the campus. I felt valued as a student, and I know that the UA faculty and staff had my best interest as a student in mind.”
She believes that technology allowed her to interact and network with her peers in a manner similar to that of a traditional classroom.
“With today's advances in technology, the live, online lectures required in many of the courses created an environment that was very similar to a traditional classroom lecture. UA uses Blackboard Collaborate, an online collaboration platform that enables students to participate during online lectures—enhancing the learning experience for all students. Students are able to virtually raise their hands in class to ask questions while professors have the ability to call on students creating the feel of an in-person lecture. Several courses required students to post on discussion boards after the completion of weekly readings. This allowed me to not only share my insights and voice my opinions, but also to learn from the insights and opinions of my peers.”
“For those who are interested in a non-traditional degree program offered through The University of Alabama, definitely consider it! At first I was a little hesitant to go back to school while working full time, but with my anticipated graduation date right around the corner, I realize the time, dedication and hard work were all worth it in the end. I developed several relationships, both personal and professional, that I will cherish and take with me. In the end, balancing a career, coursework and my personal life in order to meet my educational goals was definitely worth it!”