Student Story

Emily Hoisington

Fayetteville, AR
B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences

Emily Hoisington

"Being an online student is really nice. I don't stress about time as much as I did back when I was in person classes. I do not believe I could work full time in a healthy way if it wasn't for the online program."

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At a very early age, Emily Hoisington knew, deep down, she wanted to impact peoples’ lives in a positive and lasting way. Her first thought was to pursue career in medicine, but an advanced placement course in high school opened her mind and heart to her true calling.

“I originally was going to go to college for nursing, but then I took an AP psychology course my junior year of high school, and it all clicked,” Hoisington, 21, said. “That's when I realized, I'm going to go to the mental health care aspect of this. Once I found out that the University of Arkansas had an online program somewhat designated to that field, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is it.’”

Though Hoisington lives only a few miles from the Fayetteville campus, she chose to study virtually. The Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences online degree lets her work at her own pace. Studying online gives her the flexibility to attend school while working full time as a barista at a local coffee shop, yet still have time to spend with her family and friends and enjoy life.

View short video about Emily Hoisington choosing to study online

Emily Hoisington describes what it is like to study online at the University of Arkansas.

“I support myself entirely—phone, rent, bills, my cute little kitten, everything falls on to me,” she said. “Being an online student is really nice. I don't stress about time as much as I did back when I was in person classes. I do not believe I could work full time in a healthy way if it wasn't for the online program.”

Not only does being online allow Hoisington to be flexible with work and personal time, but it also allows her to be a better student, teaching her many important skills that she will need in her chosen field, skills such as time management, self-discipline and responsibility, she said.

“To be an online student, not to scare anyone away, you have to be on top of it, balancing that with work, with family, with friends,” said Hoisington. “Having self-discipline is important. It is easy to slip up when you're not going to class every other day. You don't have a professor every single day face-to-face saying, ‘Hey, this is due, blah blah blah’ or ‘This is what's upcoming.’”

Having experienced learning as both an in-person and a virtual student, Hoisington finds no difference between the two paths to education. To her mind, she remains a college scholar, with all the obligations, commitments and privileges that come with that status, she said.

"You're still a college student,” Hoisington said. “You don't have to go in person to get the college experience that everyone talks about. It's a great way to learn, and it's the same thing as going in person. It's just online with more flexibility. I think a lot of people assume, ‘Ohh, it's so much easier to do classes online’ or ‘You're not really a college student if you're online because you're not on campus.’ I would ignore those comments. I really would because you're still sitting down every day. You're still learning every day, and you're still on your way to get your degree.”

Hoisington began her college journey taking in-person courses at NWACC, after which she took a semester off to examine her options and select the best undergraduate degree program for her needs. During that gap semester, she evaluated multiple colleges across the state until she came across Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and the Human Development and Family Sciences page on the University of Arkansas website.

“I looked through all the classes that they have,” she recalled. “I looked through what you could do with this major, how you could continue on if you wanted more than a bachelor’s degree, and it just settled right then and there.”

Studying online helps Hoisington rapidly progress while allowing her to work full time. She is currently a junior and anticipates receiving her degree in May of 2024.

“Every time I tell someone that I'm in the Human Development and Family Sciences program, they're like, ‘Wow, what a mouthful! What is that?’” she said. “The best way to sum it up is it’s on the social work side of psychology. A lot of people with this degree go into either nonprofits or government-assisted programs to help out their community. There are drug and rehab facilities, which is something I've looked into, and hospice care.”

In an ideal world, Hoisington would love to open her own clinic and do psychodynamic therapy, which is basically talk-to-talk therapy, a type of counseling. Her ultimate goal is to provide affordable and professional mental health care for her community. She has no specific age, economic, ethnic or social group with which she wishes to work, she said.

“Primarily, I would like the psychodynamic therapy kind of cognitive therapy, something along the lines of providing family and individual therapy, dealing with individuals with depression, anxiety or PTSD,” she said. “Being able to work professionally and efficiently with patients and clients but also be able to work better with their wallet. A huge, huge problem right now in America is mental health care. I'm leaning more towards a little bit of a nonprofit, if that's possible.”

Hoisington was one of 29 online students to receive the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship for online U of A students for the 2022-2023 academic year.

“I was really surprised, honestly,” Hoisington said. “I worked very hard on the essay and questionnaire. The fact that the people who viewed them deemed me worthy enough to get this scholarship felt really great. And, of course, it's going to help with my college education journey. Not only did it give me a boost of confidence after the gap year that I had to take but also the money aspect of it. It’s no surprise, college is expensive, so having that extra income coming in for this upcoming semester is allowing me to continue to do the online program at an affordable rate."