Valerie Clem works in financial aid at Virginia Commonwealth University and knew that gaining a better, deeper understanding of the American higher education system would help her in her career. She enrolled in Drexel’s Higher Education graduate program based on its strong reputation, and the positive word-of-mouth she’d heard about it. Online classes were also important to Clem because relocating for graduate school was not an option.
“I am not a traditional student, so I needed a program that allowed me to be me,” Clem says. “I had family obligations and a job in my field. I didn’t want to give that up to go to school.”
With the School of Education’s online Higher Education program, she didn’t have to.
“I really enjoyed the program,” Clem says. “The faculty were very knowledgeable and made learning fun.”
Clem says the most useful skills she gleaned from her courses were critical thinking, analyzing data, and the ability to use a variety of computer programs with which she was previously unfamiliar.
Her courses also gave her a better understanding of higher education as a whole, which was helpful because Clem’s office was recently restructured and is now under the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management. She says she was able to undergo the transition with a better understanding of how the change would affect the Financial Aid Office.
But her favorite part of the program was interacting with students from around the world.
“I didn’t know what to expect from an online program, but my entire experience was very positive,” Clem says. “I enjoyed the faculty and the experience they brought. The diversity of students also made the program interesting and fun.”
Now that she has a master’s degree, Clem is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education at the University of Nebraska. She wants to use her knowledge of the higher education system to help students be successful in college.
“I am particularly interested in working with first-generation college students and students from low-income backgrounds,” Clem says.