Student Spotlight: Stacie Bias, WGU –

Stacie Bias, who hails from the small town of DeQuincy, La., began pursuing a nursing degree from McNeese State University in 1992, but chose not to finish after deciding the program wasn’t right for her and that she was unprepared for college.

After several years, a few relocations, and a natural disaster, Bias made the switch to online education. The proud mother of six kids and grandmother of two completed her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management from Western Governors University Sept. 11, 2012. Bias currently works as a cosmetologist.

What made you choose this particular school?

Bias: “My family was uprooted due to Hurricane Rita. We lived in Beaumont, Texas at the time. I had owned a hair salon and also kept a full-time job at a telemarketing company. After the hurricane, we relocated to Lufkin, Texas due to extensive damages to our home and us finding a place to rent in Lufkin. We just figured we’d start all over. But I was left to start looking for clients again and since I was seven months pregnant, I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to take the risk to hire me until after I delivered the baby. My husband was overwhelmed trying to meet the obligations of the home, and the child support that I was receiving for my other children from a previous relationship went to help. We had nothing left and were barely scraping enough together for food. I immediately thought, since I’m home, I need to find a place where I can get my degree. I started researching online and came across a couple of online universities but they just didn’t seem legitimate. After finding WGU from an ad I saw on a game website, it immediately resonated with my soul! I knew this was the university for me. And I was right!”

How did you decide on your field of study?

Bias: “After speaking with my mentor about what my long-term goal was, he thought it would be best to pursue a marketing degree. After researching the degree program, I agreed that Marketing Management would be best at the time, and I would pursue my education further in order to reach my goal.”

What made you choose online education?

Bias: “I was pregnant, on bed rest, and I wanted to be able to be home with my children, attend all of their school activities, and still work part-time after I had the baby.”

How do you balance your course load with your other obligations?

Bias: “I did my coursework while the kids were in school and late at night when they were in bed. I’ve burned the midnight oil many nights!”

Tell me about your online peer group.

Bias: “One word can describe them: SUPPORTIVE! Between the online communities and WGU Facebook page, there was a plethora of support and inspiration. I was even able to become friends with a few of them and meet them at our WGU meet and greet.”

What do you hope to do with your degree upon completion?

Bias: “Now that I’ve completed my bachelor’s degree, I will be pursuing my master’s soon. My goal is to obtain a doctoral degree but in the meantime, I am working on publishing a hair magazine. My long-term goal is to open a private school where kids learn based upon their learning profile.”

What advice would you offer other students who might be considering online education?

Bias: “Online learning is nothing like a traditional college. You will have plenty of support by phone and email, but there’s no face-to-face interaction. Questions that may arise in the blink of an eye may not be immediately answered, so you have to write everything down. Always keep a notepad and pen with you! Utilize every resource that’s available to you so that you can slowly weed out the ones that don’t work and keep the ones that actually do. Only you know what works for you! Communicate often with your mentor (at least once per week). They will be one of the forces that drive you and keep you pushing toward your goal. Make sure you have all of your financial packets completed before you start or your financial aid may be delayed. Drink plenty of water, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. It will keep your energy level up! Take walks – get a laptop if you can and take your classroom with you! The beauty of online learning is that you don’t have to stay cooped up in a room with four white walls. You can learn in the park, at the museum, the library (where there are plenty of other useful resources), and any other place you may find the need to explore. ENJOY learning and become a life-long learner. Every day, we walk into a classroom to pursue further education so we can enjoy a higher salary! Also, don’t borrow too much from financial aid. Live small today so that you can live large tomorrow. Don’t buy unnecessary material possessions. With WGU, our books (online) were included in tuition! This can save tons of cash. Meditate and pray daily. This will help clear your mind from the day-to-day distractions or obligations. Have fun getting your degree and enjoy the benefits!”

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN