UOPX resources help take the stress out of pursuing a degree during the pandemic
As a pioneer of online education, University of Phoenix understands that going back to school should fit into your hectic life and not add to the anxiety.
To help students navigate coronavirus, the University has rolled out new resources designed to help alleviate stress from the start of a student’s educational experience to the end. Offerings include a streamlined application process, virtual, real-time instruction, and on-demand career support to help navigate opportunities or recover from a job loss. But not all offerings are new. Ongoing support, like the tuition guarantee, Life Resource Center and transfer-friendly programs, were specifically designed to help make college as stress-free as possible.
Jennifer Burrell, director of Student Services Operations, said it’s all a part of the University’s efforts to offer relevant support, regardless of what’s going on in the world.
“Many students have told us they want to figure out a way to move forward with their goals and not put their life on hold. School is a priority for them,” Burrell said. “The University has taken steps to overcome coronavirus-related obstacles and help adult learners reach their goal of earning an education.”
Career and life resources
Resources have also been designed to help students who have faced recent job loss or furloughs. Students can receive professional guidance from career coaches, tips on interviewing and creating a resume, networking opportunities and even helpful tips for working from home through career services.
For students who may be balancing work from home and children at home due to virtual instruction or limited child care options, academic counselors can also work with students to create a plan that may help better manage school, work and family obligations. Beyond that, the University’s Life Resource Center offers links to support students in areas unrelated to academics through articles, webinars and opportunities for free counseling resources.
Burrell said that these are not new resources, but some that can be vital at this time.
“We have always catered to students who are working adults, so that hasn’t changed,” she said. “But we want new students, especially, to know it’s our role to support their decision to return to school.”
Transfer, enrollment and financial support
The University also helps students by maximizing their previous college-level learning with transfer-friendly programs and policies.
For instance, students who don’t have final transcripts available due to COVID-19 school closures are able to submit unofficial transcripts to UOPX, which helps avoid unnecessary delays. Once they have committed to start, their tuition is locked in for their program and won’t increase for the duration of their program at the University.
Burrell said one way students can get a jump start on their college career is to have relevant experience evaluated for potential credit through the prior learning assessment (PLA), an alternative way to get college credit for professional and personal experiences, like workforce training and certificates. Webinar opportunities and resources are available about the PLA process.
Virtual, real-time instruction
Some students prefer face-to-face interactions at a UOPX campus. However, given the current state of COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of students, the University is offering a solution that provides real-time engagement with faculty and classmates but in a virtual setting.
One new resource is the University’s “Collaborate” tool within the online classroom. With University campuses closed through January, real-time instruction has been adjusted to a model that allows learning to be synchronous. Collaborate allows students access to face-to-face instruction in a virtual setting.
The Collaborate option continues to provide the same valuable support tools, like live tutoring, on-demand library support staff, and access to the Microsoft Office software suite. Brooks Cornell, director of UOPX’s California Central Valley Campus, said these tools are designed to make students who are used to live instruction feel consistency during an inconsistent time.
“Collaborate ensures that students who prefer more tactile, hands-on, instruction and immediate response still have access to that environment until campuses reopen,” he said.
Campuses are expected to reopen in January, and the University will provide students an opportunity to safely return to in-person instruction if they choose. Cornell said the reopening of campuses will be accompanied by new health and safety requirements informed by CDC guidelines, such as restaged classrooms to allow for ample social distancing, face screens at the front desk, and new cleaning and sanitation protocols.
Starting college can be challenging―especially in a pandemic―but life is full of obstacles at different points in time, Cornell said. He encourages students to recognize that there are support options to overcome potential barriers to pursuing academic and career goals.
“For students to be able to connect to their future through education there’s never a time that uncertainty doesn’t exist,” Cornell said. “The uncertainty today is called COVID-19, but with any uncertainty comes other opportunities.”