Melissa Ray, 41
Dalton State College
Major: Organizational Leadership
Expected Graduation: May 2019

How did you come to be a student at Dalton State College at this particular time in your life?
I'm a working mom of four. I started college years ago, but never finished due to financial circumstances. Over the last few years I've contemplated going back to school. Raising a family, working and attending school is hard. I put it off and put it off. Then I realized that this is a personal goal of mine and I want to be a role model for my kids. Two are already grown, but the other two are still in Elementary and Middle school. Things are changing in the workplace and a degree is a must. Even though it's a challenge to juggle school with work and family time,eMajor and eCore have made this decision easier for me and the cost is not as much as I anticipated.  

Why is completing your college degree important to you? 
Future job opportunities, it is a personal goal, and I want to be a role model for my kids.

Why did you choose to take online classes?
I can choose when to do my college work. I still have deadlines, but it makes it easy to work at night, in the mornings, on the weekends, or even lunch breaks. I choose when I have time to do my assignments.  

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing? 
Spending time with my family and scrapbooking.

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work? 
Typically on lunch breaks, late at night after I've worked and gotten all my "mom" duties done. I also spend some time on the weekends doing work. I try to work it around my family time with my kids. Sometimes it has to take priority due to due dates, but I can usually balance both.

Have you used any of the additional support resources available in eCore and eMajor classes? 
I've used Smarthinking for research/essay papers.  It's great to have them proofed and receive feedback before submitting them for a grade.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class?
Go for it!  Online can be harder than being in a classroom due to the amount of reading and videos you have to watch, but it makes balancing college easier.
Quteaus Smith, 28
Gordon State College
Major: Early Childhood Education
Expected Graduation: Summer 2019

After 10 years of job instability, this mom decided to make a change and go back to school. Now, she's working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education and setting an example for her children. Read more about Quteaus, how she balances her time, and what motivated her to go back in the first place. 

How did you come to be a student at Gordon State College at this particular time in your life?
I [first] attended Gordon about 10 years ago, and got off track due to basically being young and irresponsible. After working job after job over the years I decided that I wanted career stability, so I re-enrolled at Gordon.

Why is completing your college degree important to you? 
[I want] a better life for myself and my family. I am a true believer that whatever is started should be finished. I want to send a message to my children that no matter how tough things get, you never give up.

Why did you choose to take online classes?
Being a mother of 3 children and working a full-time job is very demanding, especially when my husband works in Minneapolis. Taking online classes gives me the flexibility to take the courses I need at home while still managing the responsibilities of being a mom.

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing? 
Being a mom and taking care of my 5 chickens, 3 rabbits, and 2 dogs. I love animals!

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work? 
I have a color coordinated calendar that hangs above my desk area. It reminds me when assignments are due and what assignments are due. I spend at least 3 to 4 hours a day on schoolwork or studying.

Have you used any of the additional support resources available in eCore classes? 
Yes; I used Smarthinking for the first time about 2 weeks ago, and it is amazing. I was able to get the help that I needed and scored a 90 on my exam.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class?
Make sure that you are a self motivator and have discipline. Online classes are not easier than traditional classes and you have to do the work, but if it is used correctly it has great benefits.
Linda Phillips, 71
University of North Georgia
Major: Sociology
Expected Graduation: 2019

At 71 years young, Linda Phillips is pursuing a college degree in order to repurpose her life and give back to a cause that is near and dear to her. As a full-time student, grandmother of 7 (plus a great-grand), and a side-gig that keeps her laughing - this retiree is doing anything but relaxing in her golden years! 

Why is completing your college degree important to you? 
I have always wanted to get my college education but life happened and the years passed.  Now I have the opportunity to fulfill this ambition and I am going for it with gusto.  I would like to use my experiences and education to do advocacy work for the elderly.

Why did you choose to take online classes?
Up until this semester, I have taken the traditional classroom path but decided it would be beneficial to me to combine online and traditional classroom classes. This frees up time for me to study.

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing? 
Life as a student does consume most of my time these days but in my spare time, I like to spend time with my family.  I have a son and two daughters; seven grandchildren (4 granddaughters and 3 grandsons - ages 11 to 40) and one great-grandson (age 5).  My hobbies include antiquing, music, reading, and crafting. I am also a comedian. My alter-ego is Lucy Carol and she provides senior comedy for many senior events such as reunions, senior citizen functions, etc.  I have also been the personal caregiver for many years for my family members and friends.

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work? 
I start my day by checking my online class sites for assignments, announcements, scheduled tests then I enter this information in a planner for easy reference.  I block off certain hours each day to accomplish my class work.  I have set up a specific work area for my desk, computer, printer, phone and storage cubes for easy access, comfort and adequate lighting.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class?
I would suggest considering the commitment necessary to accomplish your goals.  I must admit that being out of school for 51 years and all of the technological advances throughout these years has made this very challenging.

Haley and her husband, Mason.
Haley Norman, 21
University of North Georgia
AS in General Studies
Expected Graduation: Fall 2017

Tell us about your path to college and how you ended up enrolled at the University of North Georgia.
I am a missionary in Tanzania, East Africa. Upon graduating from UNG, I will have taken all of my UNG courses online due to my location. I am thankful that UNG offers all-online degrees for people in unique situations like mine. 

Why is completing your college degree important to you?
I understand that to be successful in the real world, a degree opens up great opportunities for financial success and stability. 

Why did you choose to take online classes?
I chose to take online classes because I live in Tanzania, Africa and am not in the position to be a traditional, on-campus student. eCore offers great tools to learn how to navigate courses, assistance with courses (tutoring), librarians, and more. Some of these aids are offered 24 hours a day which is great for me because of the minimal 8 hour time difference. 

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing?
Mission work keeps me quite busy, but I love biking on the beautiful African trails with my husband and cooking/baking. 

Mount Meru in Tanzania
How and when do you make time to spend on your school work? 
I have found that maintaining a rigorous daily schedule helps me stay disciplined and contributes to my focus and success in my courses. I am a full-time, all-online student, so I have very little free time and cannot afford to be distracted and lose focus or motivation. I break my days down hour by hour so that I can give all of my attention to the one subject in that time frame and not worry about other due dates and assignments until their allotted time. 

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class? 
The best advice I could give someone who is considering taking their first online class is to stay focused, motivated and disciplined. Be intentional in your planning and time management so that you stay on top of your work. Lastly, plan time for yourself and spend some time doing something you love. Even if that is taking quiet time to just breathe, do it. "You-time" is imperative to prevent burnout when the semester gets rough. 

eCore (through UNG) has enabled me to obtain my degree from over 8,000 miles away! 

Inza Thomas, 41
Georgia Southwestern State University
Human Resource Management
Expected Graduation: May 2018

The path to a degree is not always a straight line. For Inza Thomas, it took 20 years and 3 kids for her to realize her goal of earning a college degree. Now, she makes time for school any time she can (even waiting in the carpool line)! 

Tell us about your path to college. How did you end up enrolled at Georgia Southwestern State University? 
I initially started college a year after I graduated from high school. However, I had no direction or goals in continuing my education, so I quit. Almost 20 years later, I had an urge to learn more and to better myself for me and my family. After attending and earning my Associates degree from Georgia Perimeter College, it was my goal to keep going and pursue my bachelor's degree. So here I am, 2 classes away from graduation in May 2018.

Why is completing your college degree important to you?
Completing my college degree is important because [I want to prove] to myself that whatever I set out to do, it can be accomplished. More importantly, I want to be the "shero" that my kids can look up to by knowing whatever Mom accomplished, they too have that same opportunity.

Why did you choose to take online classes? 
I chose to take online classes because it allows me to do work anytime of the day or night while being a full-time mom and wife.

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing?
I spend the majority of my time being taxi Mom to our 3 kids ages 17, 14 and 8. I work part-time weekends in a leadership role for a healthcare organization. Other than enjoying spending time with my family, I also enjoy decorating and singing.

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work? 
I make time for my classes daily. It may be a little extreme for some but for me, it's a way to keep up with due dates and stay on top of discussions. Since I am home during the weekday, I can read and do assignments while the kids are at school. However, I utilize my time (i.e. carpool line) to work on schoolwork.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class or returning to school after being out for many years?
It can be done with discipline, a good support system, and prayer.

I've enjoyed eMajor thus far. I thought that I would not make a good online student but I've done pretty well and I'm proud of myself.

With the rising costs of tuition and over-the-top textbook expenses, college affordability in America is always a hot topic. When the Complete College Georgia initiative was launched in 2011, its goal was to increase attainment of high-quality certificates and degrees among Georgians. To do that - college had to be more accessible, and it had to be more affordable. eCore was up for the challenge, and together with 22 college and university partners across the state, we are proudly doing just that!

In Summer 2013, eCore introduced its first Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook. For the 22 students enrolled in U.S. History I that summer, they were thrilled to save $45 on their textbook. Since then, OERs have been implemented in all 30 eCore courses. Textbook expenses, ranging from $45 all the way to $289 per book, were no longer required of students, impacting over 50,000 enrollments and saving Georgia college students millions of dollars.

The establishment and expanded availability of eCore courses already helped to provide a low-cost option for college students across the state. Adding to those savings, eCore was able to lower the per-credit-hour rate to just $169 in Fall 2014. The $20 tuition decrease has since impacted over 200,000 credit hours, totaling more than $4 million in savings.

As of Summer 2017, total student savings from the two college affordability initiatives reached $10 million, and we’re not stopping there. With a second tuition reduction taking effect Fall 2017, the next $10 million in savings is right around the corner!

Check out the infographic (and download the pdf here) for a breakdown of the per-course savings that helped us reach this milestone.

Breakdown of savings per class
View PDF Version
You’ve already taken the first step. You’ve made the decision to go back to school— to finally finish the degree you started so many years ago. Now what? The process of researching, selecting, and applying for admission can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these five steps to choose the right program for you and get back into school in no time. 

  1. Decide what degree you want to pursue. Consider your reason for returning to school. Are you returning to college for:

    Advancement in your current career
    What credential do you need to make you “stand out” for that next promotion? Interested in a management position? Consider a degree in organizational leadership. Are there any industry-specific certifications you can pursue?

    Opportunities for a career change
    Research the field that you would like to transition to and the types of degrees required for those positions. Some industries require a particular degree for entry-level positions. Use sites like Indeed or Careerbuilder to find job openings for positions you want, and identify the specific degrees that those employers are looking for.

    Your own personal satisfaction
    If you are motivated by personal satisfaction rather than career growth, explore areas that truly interest you. Is it psychology? Art? Have you always had an underlying interest in Criminal Justice? In this situation, you’ll get the most out of your educational experience if you choose an area that you enjoy learning about. 

  2. Research schools that offer your chosen degree.
    What is most important to you in a degree program? Consider your current situation and aspects of a degree that are crucial to the feasibility of your success.

    Flexibility and format of the classes
    If you work full or part time, consider taking an online class that doesn’t require you to travel to campus. Online classes give you the flexibility to fit school into your already busy life. Taking classes online can also help you balance college and existing family responsibilities.
    Accreditation of the school
    As a minimum, you should look for a school to hold regional accreditation. Regional accreditation means that the school has met or exceeded minimum standards of quality and that the courses you take are transferrable to other institutions. You can find a list of Regional Accrediting Agencies in the US on the Department of Education’s website. Additionally, specific colleges and/or degrees can also hold specialized accreditation. For example, the School of Business Administration at Georgia Southwestern State University holds specialized accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in addition to the college’s regional SACSCOC accreditation.
    Opportunities for Prior Learning Credit
    If you’re returning to school after years in the workforce, you may have built up some experience that you can actually receive college credit for. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is awarded by the institution and, therefore, can differ from school to school. Most schools offer options such as Credit by Examination and Portfolio Submissions as a means to obtain credit for work and/or life experiences. Explore the CPL opportunities at the schools that you’re considering to see if one may be a better fit for you than the others. You can find information on CPL resources for our eMajor Affiliate Institutions on our website.
    Amount of Transfer Credit Accepted
    Transfer credit acceptance can sometimes vary by degree and by institution. Consider requesting an unofficial transfer evaluation to determine how your existing credit will fit into the degree. 
  3. Apply for admission.

    Review admission requirements.
    These requirements will differ based on your admissions type. Common admission types are Beginning Freshman, Transfer, and Non-Traditional. Your admissions type will be determined by your age and the amount of transferable college credit that you hold.

    Submit the online application for admission.
    Be sure to review application deadlines. Also, be mindful that most schools consider a completed application to include a standard application fee.

    Request official transcripts from all previous colleges attended.
    These are needed for the school to complete a transfer evaluation. Official transcripts can normally be ordered online and should be sent to the Admissions Office of the school to which you are applying in a sealed envelope.

    Submit any other required documentation.
    Additional documentation may be required depending on your admission type and specific requirements of the program.
  4. Complete advisement and/or orientation.

    Review your transfer evaluation.
    Your evaluation will tell you how your existing credit fits into your degree plan  and what courses you have left to take

    Meet with academic advisor in person or virtual
    Some schools require that you meet with an academic advisor before registering for class. Even if this is not a requirement at your school, consulting with an advisor prior to registration is a good way to ensure you are on-track with your degree plan and that you don’t waste any time by taking unnecessary courses.

    Complete orientation requirements
    Most schools require some sort of introduction or orientation program for new students. For online programs, these are usually conducted virtually— such is the case with the eCore and eMajor introduction quizzes.  Monitor your emails regularly for communication regarding orientation requirements, and be mindful of deadlines to complete these intro activities.
  5. Register for classes.
    Congratulations! You’ve successfully applied and been accepted to the school and program that is best suited for your needs. All that’s left is to register for your first classes and start working toward that degree!
Download Infographic PDF