American InterContinental University
Renee E. Merritt Ware
ACH generalist at a financial institution
Class of 2009, associate degree in business management
Class of 2010, bachelor’s degree in business management
Class of 2011, master’s degree in human resource management
American InterContinental University
Renee E. Merritt Ware has worked in the banking industry for more than 30 years, and she is currently an ACH generalist at a financial institution. After earning her master’s degree from American InterContinental University Online, she has received a number of inquiries from employers interested as a result of her degree, and has been on several interviews. She is presently weighing her options of using her degree to advance her career in the banking industry or branching out into a new field instead.
Ware has earned a total of three degrees from AIU Online: an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree. Prior to this, she attended traditional college classes right after high school, and again more than 15 years ago, but her busy lifestyle kept her from completing either attempt. Finally, at the age of 49 and after talking to some friends who had taken online classes, she decided to attend AIU Online.
“The admissions representative was very helpful, and he was the reason that I decided to go to AIU Online,” Ware said. “He walked me through the steps that I needed to go through and encouraged me to pursue my career. I filled out the application, wrote my essay, applied for my financial aid, and put together the papers that were needed. He kept me abreast of what they had received, what was still needed, and where we were in the process.”
Ware earned her Associate of Arts degree in Business Management in 2009, graduating with honors. Just one year later, she graduated summa cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in business management. Finally, in 2011, she earned her master’s degree in human resources management. She was able to do all of this while working full-time, coaching baseball, and raising two children who were in high school and active in sports.
The main factor that contributed to Ware’s ability to manage her family, work, and school, was the flexibility of the online class schedule. As she put it, “The biggest advantage [of online classes] was availability, because I could fit each class around my schedule, not the other way around.”
But the flexibility of the classes did not mean they were easy. Ware’s classes were fast-paced and demanding. Each class lasted only five weeks, and all of the assignments were in essay format, including short discussion board posts, multi-page papers, and a group project. All of the assignments had to meet the requirements of APA guidelines. In addition to this, she read and commented on at least two classmates’ posts for each assignment.
There was also a group project — a paper — for each class. “With this paper, you worked with other classmates. Once you were placed in a group by the instructor, you chose the team leader, set up the time frame to have individual parts posted, and determined who would work on what. This was a way to work together to achieve a goal,” Ware said. “Sometimes you had to grade your fellow teammates based on what they submitted, and the instructor took these opinions into consideration when grading each individual.”
Ware described a couple of the classes she was required to take in order to earn her master’s degree in human resources management. “One of the classes that I took was Employment Law. In this class, our assignments focused on how employment law impacted potential employers, employees, management, and vendors. One paper for this class was about hiring and firing practices of a company and situations where the practices were outside of employment law,” said Ware. “Another class was Leadership and Ethics for Managers. This class concentrated on three main points: how a manager should manage, the different types of leaders, and moral [issues]. One paper for this class was about how leaders used different types of leadership to encourage specific responses from their staff.”
In the online classroom, Ware was not able to see her instructors or fellow classmates face to face. However, this does not mean she was disconnected from the class. The instructors provided their email addresses and phone numbers, as well as the office hours during which they would always be available. “You also had your classmates, the library staff, technology department, and advisors,” she said.
Ware even got to know several of her classmates while attending AIU Online. “I was able to communicate and interact through email, instant messaging, bi-weekly classroom chat, and phone,” she said. “Yes, I made some friends that I would have liked to hang out with, but I still am able to keep up with a few by email.”
Ware’s experience at AIU Online resulted in friendships, a quality education, three degrees, and a wide range of possibilities for her future. “It wasn’t until I took online classes that I was able to accomplish what I did not finish before,” she said. “If I decide to pursue my Ph.D, then yes, I would go back to AIU Online because they fit well with my lifestyle, and I had a great experience with their program.”
“I made a promise to my dad and myself in 1995 — that I would get my degree. He passed in 1996,” Ware said. “I am the youngest of four children, and I am the only one with a master’s degree, and the second one to complete college. I am glad that I decided to go back to fulfill my dream, and I am especially glad that AIU Online was my college of choice.”
During the time she spent as a student at AIU Online, Ware received constant assistance and guidance. The advisors and instructors were always there for her, answering her questions and helping her in any way that she needed. This made AIU Online the best college online for Ware.
“I am sure other online colleges have their positive ways of dealing with their students, but I would not think of considering them,” said Ware. “I enjoyed my AIU Online experience, and I know that past, present, and future students will have the same experience that I had.”