Perspective Online

Finding Your Path and Enjoying the Journey

by Meggie Miller

I can’t speak highly enough about my experiences at the University of West Georgia and in the Carrollton community. This place has become my home in many different ways, but if you told me several years ago that I would have two college degrees and work at a university, I would not have believed you.

Finding Your Path and Enjoying the JourneyGrowing up, going to college was the last thing on my mind. I was never a strong student academically, and I struggled to graduate from high school. I was lucky enough to have a decent job when I graduated high school and decided to focus on my career as an insurance agent. But once I had been in the industry for a couple years, I realized in order to be marketable and get to the next level, I would need more than my high school education. After several years of community college and a lot of tutoring, I was able to get my associate’s degree and began looking to transfer to a university. That is when the real adventure began. Why not pack up everything I own, quit my job and leave my beach apartment to move seven hours from home to Carrollton, Georgia? You guessed, it. That’s exactly what I did!

I loved the change in scenery and the feel of a small-town university at UWG. My professors were great mentors, and I found a great community of peers. I became involved in as many research and volunteer projects as possible. As an undergrad, I spent my summers in Alabama digging up artifacts and was even able to present at several conferences. During my graduate education, I was able to study a program that had direct impact on my employer. Many times these projects gave me an outlet to boost my confidence and gave me experience outside of the classroom that I could add to my resume and be a more valuable employee.

Now, as an online student success advisor, I often think back to my recent experiences as a student. This reflection puts me in a student’s shoes, helping me to better understand how I may help them succeed. There are many success tips I can pass along to the student population I serve, but I found that passion was the key in my journey.

Finding my passion was important, and I realized early on that I wanted to be involved as much as possible. Unfortunately, many times students taking online classes don’t get in involved because they often feel isolated from their campus and peer community. Making connections in an online program can be a challenge. A great way to make those connections is by finding ways to get involved, since learning doesn’t have to stop outside of the virtual classroom. Even in online programs, students can be involved in experiential learning opportunities. One of the ways I became so connected to the West Georgia community is my involvement in research and volunteer projects.

I encourage anyone, especially online students, to reach out to their advisors and professors to find ways to get involved. Talk to your classmates too. Even if you can’t meet up to study, you can use tools like Google Docs and other resources to collaborate and make connections. West Georgia is still a destination university, but it has grown to accommodate the needs of tomorrow’s students. With a myriad of online programs to choose from, students can find the path that best fits them, but online students should take advantage of any opportunity to get involved.

Someone once told me, a degree represents perseverance. You just can’t ever give up. I didn’t, and one way that I stuck with it was that I always sought ways to stay involved.

Meggie Miller is an online student success advisor for UWG|Online.

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