Little Rock, AR
Student: MS in Engineering
"The flexibility is unparalleled, and the teachers truly love what they're doing."
Danielle Tabb, a civil engineer, has a blueprint to advance her career and make industry connections. And she's doing it online.
Tabb is earning a Master of Science in Engineering degree online from the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas while she is stationed with the United States Air Force in Little Rock. Originally from Washington state, Tabb studied civil engineering in the United States Air Force Academy and graduated in May 2015.
"Several of my colleagues and peers recommend that I use [military] tuition assistance to help me pay for a master's degree," Tabb said. "I want this degree because I want to further my education and gain mentorship from engineers and professors outside the Air Force for my professional development."
As an Air Force engineer, Tabb knew she could not take graduate courses in a face-to-face environment, she said. With a minimum of five more years committed to her country, she decided to study online.
"I chose this MSE program because of the good reviews I found: affordability and flexibility offered in the course programming," she said. "I hope this program will be a stepping-stone towards earning my professional engineering license and furthering my career.
"Online classes offer me a great deal of flexibility in my learning," she said. "Plus I can watch class in my pajamas and no one would know."
Tabb said her classes are challenging and the course load is right.
"It's the level of detail that's tough," she said. "I can tell that I'm getting a quality education because of this level of detail. It just tells me that the teachers care that I actually learn the material and don't just dump it after an exam."
Tabb said getting help online and networking is more difficult online than in previous face-to-face study, but she's found a way to do both. Balancing work and academics is also a challenge, but she's learned to use her lunch hour to keep up.
"I'll admit, working all day and then coming home and studying is probably the toughest part of distance learning," Tabb said. "There are days when you come home and you just want to relax. [Sometimes] it's tedious, but at the end of the week, I can relax and enjoy my weekend."
Tabb is taking her fourth course in the program, which she started in March. MSE classes are offered in eight-week sessions, not in the traditional semesters offered by some online programs. She hopes to graduate in 2018.
Tabb offered advice to other graduate students.
"I would tell others entering the program that this university has provided me my best online education experience," Tabb said. "The flexibility is unparalleled, and the teachers truly love what they're doing."
Tabb said students who exert effort can get more from classes than course content and advanced skills.
"In today's world, networking is key," Tabb said. "Don't just 'participate' in classes. Get to know the teachers, gain mentors, and further prepare yourself to be successful. You'll only get out of it what you put into it."