When was the last time you paid for something using a check? Do you even own a checkbook? Do you carry and pay for things in cash? If you’re like me, the answers to these questions are... I don’t remember, no, and very rarely. 

Today’s economy is driven by electronic payments, and there is a huge industry supporting those systems that is only going to get bigger - FinTech. FinTech, short for Financial Technology, encompasses all of the technical support systems that move your money from one place to another every time you swipe that debit card, make a purchase on your phone, or even use an app to send money to your friend. It’s an industry that is in high demand, and an exciting one to get in on if you are looking for a career change. Possible positions in FinTech include Application Developer, Web Developer, Analyst, and even Cybersecurity and Information Security roles. 

Here are three of the top reasons you should consider a career in FinTech, especially if you’re here in Georgia. 

  1. FinTech is HUGE in Georgia! According to the American Transaction Processing Coalition (ATPC), 70% of all U.S. payments are processed through Georgia. Atlanta is home to several Fortune 500 Payment Processing companies, such as First Data and NCR, as well as an abundance of smaller start-ups. Some of the top FinTech employers in Atlanta include ADP, Inc., LexisNexis, TSYS, and WorldPay, just to name a few. With such a plethora of employers in the state, there is a high demand for skilled and qualified employees in this sector.

  2. FinTech companies in Atlanta are actively looking for employees. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce recently supported the formation of the FinTech Atlanta Task Force, which is a coalition of companies and other organizations working to cement Atlanta as the recognized global capital of financial technology. The group’s priorities are to fund and fuel efforts to RECRUIT, RETAIN and EXPAND businesses and jobs across the FinTech ecosystem in metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. You read that right - there is a whole group of FinTech companies in Atlanta specifically tasked with recruiting and retaining qualified people into their organizations.

  3. The demand for employees in FinTech is expected to skyrocket. The FinTech Atlanta Taskforce has estimated a need for roughly 10,000 new employees over the next three years (2016-2019). As the state works to attract even more FinTech companies to Atlanta and the companies that are currently here continue to expand, the need for skilled employees is only going to grow. This is an industry that isn’t going anywhere and is sure to provide stable opportunities for employment in Atlanta for years to come.
There you have it!  A booming and rapidly growing industry with a global footprint right here in Atlanta that is actively looking for employees. And even greater news? There are some great fast-track online options in Georgia to help you become qualified for these positions. Through USG eMajor, Middle Georgia State University offers two online options to expedite your path to a career in FinTech: a 60-Credit Hour Associate of Science in Financial Technology or a Certificate in Financial Technology consisting of just 5 courses (15 Credit Hours). The Certificate option is especially appealing to those that already hold an AS, BS or graduate degree in a related field (such as IT or Finance) and need to add a specialization to their resume. 

For more information on these programs, visit emajor.usg.edu/FinTech, or contact Dr. Kevin Floyd in the School of Information Technology at MGA at kevin.floyd@mga.edu or 478-471-2801.
Jeanette Cox, 35
Dalton State College
BS in Criminal Justice
Expected Graduation: December, 2016

What is your occupation?
I am currently a full-time college student and housewife!

What class(es) are you currently taking with eCore/eMajor? 
I just finished a Corrections class this semester and am finishing up Criminal Law.

Why is completing your degree important to you?
I want to go on to law school. I already had an Associate’s Degree and I needed to finish up with the Bachelor’s so I could go on.

Why did you choose to take online classes through eCore/eMajor?
I began my entire first semester back to college with eCore. They offered all of the pre-requisite classes that I needed and it meant I would not have to drive 45 minutes to my college. They always have the classes that I need and I can take them on here when the times offered on campus do not match up with my availability! 

How would you describe the instructors you've had in your eCore classes?
My instructors have always communicated very well with me. I always know what is expected, assignment deadlines, and they are also always available to help with any questions that I have. 

What has been the best thing about taking online classes?
Online classes allow me to work on the material when it is convenient for me to do it. I do not have to drive and waste time and it has actually allowed me to be able to take more classes at one time because of the time it has saved me from driving back and forth.

When you're not doing school work, what are you doing? 
I have lots to do when I am not doing school work! I enjoy hunting and fishing. I also teach a children’s Sunday school class with my husband. We teach Children’s Church, as well. 

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class through eCore or eMajor?
I say they should do it! I have learned so much from my eCore and eMajor classes. They have helped me with other classes that I have taken on campus. If you have the time to spend and invest in your education, I highly recommend these programs. I do not think I would be graduating at the end of this semester had these classes not been available to me online! 
Alexandra, 16

University of West Georgia
Chapel Hill High School

Alexandra is a student at Chapel Hill High School and is currently attending college online as a dual enrolled student with the University of West Georgia. 

Why is completing your degree important to you? 
I plan to transfer my credits to UGA in order to pursue a degree in environmental sciences (most likely). This is important to me because I will not have the skills or qualifications to pursue a career in environmental work if I do not complete an accredited degree program. 

Why did you choose to take online classes? 
I chose to do online classes with eCore because I was not satisfied with the options available at my school, and due to my class schedule, extracurricular activities, and distance from my home institution, an on campus class would have been inconvenient for me

How would you describe the instructors you’ve had in your eCore class?
The online teachers are, in one word, distant; but they are available to help when needed. It is definitely not like the classroom experience where the teacher is always right there instructing you directly. 

What has been the best thing about taking online classes?
The best thing about taking online classes is definitely flexibility. I can choose how to spend my time. If I need to work on one unit more than another, I can take more time on that one. I can also prioritize my time with my schedule, so if I need more time for other classes, I can take that time as well. 

When you’re not working on your eCore class, what else are you doing?
I still have other classes at my high school, so when I'm not working on my online course work, I am either at school, doing extracurriculars such as marching band or musical, working on homework for my high school classes, and the rest is free time spent with friends and family. 

How and when do you make time to focus on your eCore class?
I took two out of eight class periods out of my school schedule to work on my online courses. Therefore, I wake up in the morning and work on my eCore coursework, then go into school at 10. 

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class through eCore or eMajor?

If you procrastinate, don't do it. If you have poor planning skills, don't do it. If you are awfully forgetful, don't do it. In these classes, no one is there to push you or give you a warning. You are completely on your own when it comes to getting things done, and that means you have to be responsible for yourself. The teachers and tutors are there to help you when needed, but they aren't supposed to be baby sitters. You have to have maturity and discipline in order to be successful in these classes. To those who have their heart set on taking eCore classes, to you I say good luck and remember to take your own notes. It really helps. 

There are many misconceptions out there about online learning. One of the biggest is that students in online classes are on their own to learn the material - with little to no support or assistance when they need it. In a quality distance learning program, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Students in eCore and eMajor courses have access to several academic support services and resources. If you haven’t utilized any of the resources listed below, check them out. They may just be able to give you that extra boost you need to ace the class! 
  1. Embedded Tutors (STEM Courses) Embedded Tutors are subject matter experts and are, as the name says, embedded inside all Science and Math eCore courses. These tutors are enrolled in the course just like students, so they are familiar with the course materials and assignments. Embedded tutors can help with content questions, clarification of assignments, or can even help you work out sample math problems or labs. 

    To communicate with the embedded tutor, look for the “Tutor Talk” topic on the discussion board inside your course in GoVIEW.

  2. Embedded Librarians
    Not in a STEM class? No problem! eCore has librarians embedded in all non-STEM and non-SPAN classes. These are actual librarians that are enrolled in the course and there to assist students with research and any library-related questions. They are a great resource if you are having trouble using GALILEO. The embedded librarians can be contacted via email, or through the discussion board.

    Librarians will also be embedded into all ORGL and CJ eMajor courses starting Short Session II of Fall 2016.

  3. Smarthinking
    All eCore and eMajor students have free, unlimited access to Smarthinking, an online tutoring service. Look for the Smarthinking logo in the top navigation bar inside your course in GoVIEW to access this service. With Smarthinking, you can interact with a live tutor, submit writing assignments for feedback, or submit a question to be answered by a tutor within 24 hours. There are also online Study Aids and ESL services offered under the Spanish Language Center, which allows students to receive feedback in English or Spanish.

    Smarthinking has several instructional videos on their YouTube channel to show you how to utilize these services.

    How to Use Drop In Tutoring
    How to Schedule a Tutoring Session
    How to Submit an Essay
    How to Use Writing Feedback

  4. Campus Tutoring Centers
    eCore and eMajor students are all enrolled through a home academic institution and have access to their college or university’s tutoring center. Services will vary by institution, but it is a good idea to check out what resources are available at your institution so that you already have the information when you need it. Links to campus tutoring centers are included on each institution’s directory page on the eCore and eMajor websites below.

    eCore Institution Directory
    eMajor Institution Directory

  5. Your Instructor
    Last, but most definitely not least, is your instructor. Students are sometimes too nervous to reach out to their instructor if they are struggling with an assignment or concept, especially in an online class. However, maintaining communication with your online instructor is one of the most crucial aspects of successful course completion. In eCore and eMajor courses specifically, instructors understand that online students are not your typical full-time, on-campus college student. Our students have jobs, families, and are often returning to college after being out of school for an extended amount of time. If at any point in an eCore or eMajor course you feel like you are falling behind or need a little extra clarification, reaching out to your instructor is always a smart move. Your instructor’s contact information is listed at the top of your syllabus, and you can also send them a message within the GoVIEW system. 
When evaluating online programs, take the time to investigate the student support resources available. In addition to other factors such as reputation of the institution and tuition rate, availability of and access to student support and resources should be another main component to consider when deciding which program is right for you. 
Nicolle Coleman, 45
Dalton State College
Expected Graduation: Spring 2018

Anyone who has been involved in the registration process (be it student, faculty, or staff) for an eCore or eMajor class has more than likely come into contact with Nicolle. She's the motor that keeps things going at eCampus during registration season, and she has a unique understanding of the needs of our adult learners because she is one herself. After leaving college 24 years ago to work in the corporate world and then to raise a family, she made the decision to return and finish her degree. She's been back in school for 2 semesters now, and has pulled off all A's! Let's learn a little about Nicolle and how she fits college into her busy schedule.

Where do you work?
USG eCampus, student services.

What is your major?
Organizational Leadership. 

Why is completing your degree important to you?
Lots of reasons, setting an example for my children is a big one.  No one on my side of the family has a 4 year degree. Also, for career advancement.

Why did you choose to take online classes through eCore/eMajor?
Since I have worked with eCore for 4+ years, it was a natural transition.  I love the convenience. 

How would you describe the instructors you've had in your eCore classes?
So far my instructors have been very good, very knowledgeable. 

What has been the best thing about taking online classes?
Again, convenience.  I am a busy mom of 2 active teens.  Being able to do my work any time in the day or night has been essential for me.  If I had to go to a physical class I would never be able to go back.

When you're not doing school work, what are you doing?
 work full time, have a part time cake business and run around crazy bringing kids everywhere. I sing at church and am active in my local community theater.

How and when do you make time to focus on your school work?
I review my class schedule and add the tasks to my schedule as a line item like every other task in my busy schedule.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class through eCore or eMajor? 
If you can manage your time well, this is a great opportunity.  I kept saying, "Maybe I will someday."  This allowed me to it do now since going to classes was not an option.

Corrine Sweet is an Associate Professor of Business at Darton State College and an online instructor in the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree through eMajor. 

Where did you complete your degree(s)?
Ed.S. in Instructional Technology from Valdosta State,
MBA in Information Technology from University of Central Missouri

What is your field of expertise and what drew you to it? Business and technology.  I was first introduced to technology in elementary school when my class would get to go to the computer lab and use the Apple II’s and it has fascinated me ever since.

How long have you taught online classes?
About 10 years

Why did you choose to become a college instructor? I wanted to teach others about technology and prefer working with adults.

What do you like most about teaching online? The variety of people I get to interact with.

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it?I’m currently taking a class in quantitative statistics toward my Doctorate, and it is definitely giving me a challenge!  My best advice is to make sure you take enough time for studying and doing the assignments and don’t be afraid to search out additional resources to help you learn.

What do you like to do in your free time?My favorite hobby is traveling, and I try to get “out of town” and wander during any free time between semesters. When I only have a little free time I enjoy reading and watching TV, particularly anything involving comic book superheroes!  I also enjoy being crafty when I have some extra time, including papercrafts, sewing, and crochet.

What’s your favorite movie of all time? I would love to pick something intellectual, but I have to go with Guardians of the Galaxy!  I love the jokes, the action, and mostly Groot.

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be? I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it!

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings? Buy a brownstone in Brooklyn and sell handcrafted items at a farmer’s market.

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know? I’ve been to 48 states. I was legally blind until I turned 18 and had corrective surgery.

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time? Do not be afraid to ask for help!  The professor is there to help, but in an online class the professor can’t see if the students looked confused, so we need you let us know when you need extra guidance.

You teach in the BS in Organizational Leadership program. Why do you think this program is a smart choice for students? This program and the various concentrations do an excellent job of preparing students for so many careers and other opportunities. Students learn about so many different aspects of working in a variety of organizations, including healthcare and in a variety of offices, and develop skills that will help them lead in any situation.

Sheryl Lance, 54 
University of North Georgia

During a presentation at this year's annual eCore Faculty meeting, I asked the audience to send me examples of students in their courses who were excelling in class. Before the presentation ended, I had an email from Dr. Nihal Gunay saying she had a non-traditional student that was taking her first online class, and "she has been awesome!" Let's meet Sheryl, our brand new and "awesome" online student.

What is your home institution? University of North Ga.  Gainesville Campus

What is your age? 54

Are you currently employed? If so, where and what do you do? Yes. Mulberry Farms, Inc. Office Manager/Accounting

Why is completing your degree important to you? It is something I never had the opportunity to do when I was younger, but have always wanted to do.

Why did you choose to take online classes through eCore/eMajor? I was feeling a bit overextended with working 50+ hours a week and taking classes in the evenings. I thought an online class would provide a change.

How would you describe the instructors you've had in your eCore classes? Excellent!

What has been the best thing about taking online classes? Much more flexibility.

When you're not doing school work, what are you doing? I live alone so work very long hours in order to meet my financial obligations. I also have 2 adult children and two grandchildren I love to spend time with. In addition to that I volunteer with an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children (CASA). When time allows I love to run. It provides great stress relief! 

How and when do you make time to focus on your school work? In the evenings and on weekends. I must be honest, it takes a great amount of self discipline.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking their first online class? I would highly encourage it!