NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You


Student Story: Online Classes Leave Time During the Day to Gain Professional Skills

Feature Story
Posted on Dec, 08 2011

photo of Jessica

A photo of Jessica during one of her travels in Santorini, Greece.

Jessica Meissner, graduating senior, is excited for what comes next. She will complete her degree in natural resource management in December and over the past semester has taken advantage of online courses to be able to spend less time in the classroom to be able to work alongside her professors conducting research and gaining valuable experience as she begins her career search.

A self-labeled “older-than-average” student, Meissner utilized online courses through NDSU Distance and Continuing Education to help her achieve her degree. After high school Meissner completed cosmetology school and worked for about a year when she decided she wanted to take her life in a new direction. She then attended sign language school and took a few business classes while living in Minneapolis. However, she started to feel like a trapped country girl living in a big city so she decided to embrace her love of the outdoors and traveling when she found NDSU’s study abroad program to England. She came to NDSU to continue her studies in business and spent her second semester abroad in England. She then decided to explore other majors and found natural resource management. Though there are currently no natural resource management classes available online, Meissner was able to take other classes in the sociology and anthropology department that complemented her major. She enjoyed the connections she found between the sociology and anthropology classes to apply to her natural resource background to one day teach people how to help our environment and planet as an environmental educator and outreach volunteer.

As a busy researcher, not having to come to campus everyday was a major bonus for Meissner. She spent the summer working with professors collecting soil and vegetation samples and is now working to analyze the data gained from the samples. By day she is able to work and learn and then complete her coursework needed to graduate in her spare time. Meissner noted that online courses are not for everyone, but she was successful because she considers herself “a self-disciplined person that was able to take advantage of the freedom of not having to come to class.” She also noted that online classes are not as easy as you think and you need to be in the same mindset as you would be attending class on campus.

Along with enjoying the course content, Meissner also praised the instructors in her courses that they “were very attentive to her needs or questions” since online learning and not meeting daily with an instructor can lead to confusion and some miscommunication. Some of the classes she took were based solely on tests and others had assignments and tests. She said she sometimes had questions or technical problems about assignments or online tests, but her instructors were easy to reach by email and could answer questions or reset online exams if she ran into any difficulties. 

The future looks bright for Meissner as she begins her hunt for a career that will help her achieve her big plans of helping to save the world. The research she did with her professors taught her great networking skills that she may have missed out on had her time during the day been spent going from class-to-class on campus. If you are interested in taking online classes that you can complete on your own time so you too can work and gain professional experience during the day, check out our available degrees and courses that are offered at www.ndsu.edu/dce/degrees. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have at 701-231-7015.

A photo of Jessica during one of her travels in Santorini, Greece.