Kaylyn Gamertsfelder Bass 

I started attending Hiram College as a traditional student in 2010. It was a perfect fit; I loved being on a small campus where it was easy to get involved and have a say in my education. Most of my classes had about 12 students in them, and that led to a lot of group discussions where everyone’s input was valued. At Hiram, you aren’t treated like a student; you’re treated like an academic.

I got married in December of 2011, and my husband left for Marine Corps boot camp three weeks later. At the end of the Spring semester, I officially withdrew from Hiram and moved to Camp Lejeune to be with him at his new duty station. In North Carolina, I took some classes at a local community college to continue my education, but it wasn’t the atmosphere I had grown accustomed to at Hiram. I wanted the challenge that a liberal arts education offers; I wanted the freedom to question what the textbook said, and the perspective to question my own beliefs.

In the summer of 2013, I discovered through a friend on campus that Hiram had begun offering online classes through the Weekend College. I immediately started making phone calls to see what I would have to do to enroll, and before I knew it my transfer credits were evaluated and I was a senior at Hiram College!

The online format requires a lot of personal motivation; typically, the professors will list all of my readings and assignments at the beginning of each week, each assignment having a specified due date throughout the week. I love that I can do my school work on my own time, and because I know what’s happening all week, I can adjust my work load to fit my schedule.

Despite the fact that I don’t get to see any of my classmates or professors, I still get to know them from the online forums and feedback. Most of my classes have an interactive component to them, where I have to give my viewpoint on a particular topic each week. Other students will comment on my thread, and I’ll comment on theirs. The result is in some ways even better than discussions in a physical classroom, because each person has a platform to express their full opinion and have people respond thoughtfully to their ideas. Instead of one conversation about the future of capitalism and democracy in the developing world, we get to have ten, and each one stems from a slightly different viewpoint.

This May, I will receive my degree in Social Science with a Concentration in Communication from Hiram College. I will get to walk at commencement with the friends I made during Freshman Institute Week on campus, as well as some others I’ve connected with in my online classes. Despite the fact that I chose an untraditional route to getting a degree, the online classes at Hiram College have made it possible for me to have it all. I’m living over 600 miles away on the Carolina Coast, spending as much time with my husband as the Marine Corps will permit, and getting a high-quality education from an institution that values an interdisciplinary outlook on life and academics. 

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