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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Top of the [on]line program

Photo by Photo by Kaylee Cogbill

Provost and Executive Vice President Carol Fierke sent emails to students, faculty and staff outlining what the fall semester would look like including 30 minutes between classes instead of 20 and a daily 45 minute break in order for classrooms to be cleaned.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect corrections regarding Texas A&M’s online education rankings for the College of Education & Human Development. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing for nearly two years in the United States, online education has become the norm for universities across the globe. As case numbers increased, Texas A&M picked up on the changes and moved coursework online when the outbreak occurred.

The U.S. News & World Report determines its rankings by employing criteria such as faculty training and credentials, student excellence and services and technologies offered. From Mays Business School to the College of Nursing, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings, A&M online education programs have excelled at supporting their students. The College of Education & Human Development, or CEHD, in particular is ranked No. 1 in the nation for online education for veterans. 

With resources ranging from the Veteran Resource Center, to offering orientation wherever one is stationed, veterans make up a sizable portion of A&M’s student body, both online and in person. Director of Online Education for CEHD Ambyr Rios said A&M strives to make every veteran feel supported on an individual level. Rios said one of the main ways the CEHD supports online learning is by structuring coursework around different students’ lifestyles or needs. 

“[We] use a mission-driven approach modeled after the military’s ‘no-fail mission,’” Rios said. “It’s the idea that students will not fail. We will support them in every way to ensure they graduate.” 

The report also deemed the quality of faculty leading online programs to be a defining feature. Since A&M was originally established as a military school, Rios said many of the instructors within the CEHD are veterans themselves.

“[Veteran faculty members] are understanding of what fellow veterans need and are able to provide flexible mentorships,” Rios said. “Each staff member is trained and made aware of every resource at students’ disposal.”

Beyond online programs in education for veterans, A&M was ranked 16th in online non-MBA programs. According to the report, the institutions that make this list have, “strong academic traditional foundations” and “offer robust career and financial support.” 

Director of MS Analytics Myra Gonzalez said the Mays Business School’s online master’s degrees embody these values, as well as many others.

“Our students are all working professionals who give us industry feedback,” Gonzalez said. “We learn exactly what employers want.”

An innovative approach Mays has adopted is designing curriculum to be “cohort-based.” It involves groups of students learning on the same path of coursework and graduating together. Gonzalez said cohort sizes are determined to be not too small or too big, to ensure ideal student relationships.

“It provides students with additional motivation to complete their degrees on time,” Gonzalez said. “It has resulted in high retention rates.”

Mechanical engineering sophomore Noah McElwey was part of the first class dealing with an almost completely online semester. Coming from a high school that had a drive-by graduation, McElwey said he felt as if he had missed an essential educational milestone.

“I was worried it would be hard because I had never been to fully online classes,” McElwey said. “But [A&M] did a really good job of explaining how things were going to work and being flexible when things went sideways.”

Rios said the department of online education with the CEHD applies a two-fold approach to each incoming student; first, making sure students feel welcomed; second, giving students the resources and opportunities to succeed.

“We want everyone to feel like an Aggie,” Rios said.

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