If you’re considering enrolling, or just getting started in your program, you may have some questions about what being a student is really like. We sat down with Penn Foster student, Hannah Rodgers, who answered some frequently asked questions that may help you start reaching your education goals this year with confidence. A veterinary technician student and Student Ambassador, Hannah is currently working in the field and frequently shares updates about her Penn Foster journey on her YouTube Channel.
Why did you decide to enroll with Penn Foster?
Hannah: I decided to enroll with Penn Foster because I had a couple previous experiences with traditional brick-and-mortar colleges. I had previously wanted to be a veterinarian and had been pursuing that. I did not do well in that type of environment and I couldn’t necessarily afford to continue trying through that environment as well. So, when I decided I wanted to go to school to be a veterinary technician, I had looked online at a couple of other online distance learning programs. I actually enrolled in one and it was less than ideal... I discontinued that one and found Penn Foster online through some Google searches, honestly. When I found [Penn Foster] I truly thought it was too good to be true. I found that [Penn Foster] was accredited and was a lot more affordable than other options I’d seen. So that was basically the point I decided to try and start going to school [here] and that was the point in which I enrolled.
Tell me about the Student Portal.
Hannah: I compare everything to what I experienced going to school at a brick-and-mortar college because I always felt like the way they did things online was so convoluted and would take you three links before you actually got to a dashboard or a portal of any sort. But for Penn Foster it was pretty much all straightforward. I really enjoy the home screen because it shows you how far you are percentage wise, what your start date for the degree was, and how long you have for that semester or that block as well. I was exploring that at first and that’s when I went to the My Courses area, which is where I found the different modules and study guides. Then I started to explore a little more on the Resources tab as well... Also, the Community, which has switched from a different platform then the one I had originally been on when I first started as a student... But that’s basically where I focused on when I first enrolled and was first getting to know the program.
How do you stay motivated while learning at your own pace?
Hannah: ...It changes from time to time. But I feel like the most congruent things that I do for myself are to put little reminders for myself throughout the space because I get really overwhelmed when I think about all the things, I have to do in this amount of time in order to finish my degree, and I think about all the classes and all the tests and everything I have to do. So, thinking about the big picture is truly what motivates me. I’m lucky enough that I get to work in the same space that I’m going to be working in, and that I’m going to school to work in. So that also helps motivate me.
But I will definitely keep little sticky notes with encouragement on my mirror, on my desk, on my laptop I even have stickers that are motivating... I just try to have little bits of encouragement throughout my life so it’s continuing to push me.
I’ll also follow people on social media or follow people on Facebook or become friends with people on Facebook who are also in school to try and see other people motivated and then that inspires me... I try to remember that I can’t worry about the bridges I’ll have to cross in the future, but to just focus on the one I have at hand and that is something I’m definitely trying to do more, and I feel like I’m not doing enough of, but it’s all a work in progress. But I feel like just surrounding yourself with little bits of motivation can definitely help you remember the bigger picture and why you’re going through all this... It definitely helps reinvigorate that and remotivate me...
I would also recommend reaching out to other students because you’re definitely not alone. I feel like that’s one of the things that’s hardest about going to school online is that you’re secluded and don’t have that network. So, going on the Community... I think that’s really helpful and helps push you along. I also follow Penn Foster on social media, too, because they’ll definitely post motivational things I need to hear.
You’re working in the field; how did Penn Foster help you prepare for work?
Hannah: I definitely feel like Penn Foster has provided me with a lot of information and I feel like in some of the lectures that Dr. James Hurrell does, he talks a lot about different presentations of animals, too, and how the clinical findings you find are different from the things you read in the textbook. So, you might see some images that are great pictures of certain cells or certain smears, but you’re not always going to get that representation in the clinic... So, I feel like listening to those lectures and listening to those people talk helps prepare me for the idea that not everything is going to be super easy to visualize and super easy to understand right off the bat. I definitely feel like the ethics and professionalism webinars that he does have definitely helped me. But overall, the information has definitely been incredibly influential and has given me a great foundation of learning, so when I was learning how to be a tech assist and learning the job of a veterinary technician, I was in a place where I already knew about doing dentals through reading in the textbooks and through taking that portion of the course. So, all I had to do was learn how to physically do it and it made it a lot less stressful for me when I already knew the fundamentals and I can learn the physical aspect, because if you try to learn both at the same time it’s very overwhelming. I feel like that’s the hardest part of the job, learning how to do it physically. So, it’s really helpful that I started ahead of the game and I was about a semester in already when I started learning how to do things physically... Just the knowledge in general is super helpful.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Penn Foster student?
Hannah: I think my favorite thing about being a Penn Foster student is that this school gives people who might have alternative backgrounds or might not be able to have the same opportunities to be able to go to a university or to be able to even go to a community college and afford that, I think that is one of the greatest things about this program. Because, like I said before, I didn’t do well in a brick-and-mortar college. I wasn’t able to continue to do that financially because I wasn’t in a spot where I had the money to pay for the semesters as they came even with financial aid. So, I definitely find so much value in this program, and not just the program but the school itself, because it’s giving people with alternative backgrounds and people who might not have accessibility to the same resources that people who are more well off have access to. And so, I know it’s not necessarily related to the knowledge itself, but I think it’s amazing that [Penn Foster] gives people the opportunity to go out and reach higher education even if they didn’t come from traditional backgrounds. I definitely think that’s my favorite thing about Penn Foster because I don’t know if I would be here as far and as successful in my career so far without this school, just because it gave me such a great opportunity to level up my career, to help make more connections with people, and to just become more successful while I do the things that I love.
Watch Hannah’s full interview to hear answers to more frequently asked questions and to find out if Penn Foster is right for you.
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