Online learning worked best for this grad with an unscheduled life

December 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Christopher Bennett leads an unscheduled life: As a real-estate broker, he’s not tethered to office hours, working when his clients need him. That’s why it made perfect sense for him to get a master’s degree that allowed him the flexibility of balancing his education with the rest of his life.

Bennett will graduate on Saturday, Dec. 15, as one of the more than 1,200 Penn State World Campus students receiving degrees during the University’s fall commencement ceremonies.

But first, on Friday, Dec. 14, he will share his experiences as an online learner at the Penn State World Campus Graduation Reception, an event for graduating students and their families at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“I always thought, 'I wish I could have gone to Penn State,'” said Bennett, 36, of Edmond, Oklahoma. “The encouragement of my family, friends, and even total strangers is the main reason that I had the confidence to apply and continue my master's in psychology of leadership. I almost did not apply because I thought I wouldn’t get in, but my wife and others encouraged me and pushed me.”

Bennett began working toward a master of professional studies in psychology of leadership in the summer of 2017 with three courses, using his GI Bill from his service in the Air Force. He said he wanted to improve his leadership skills for his work at his brokerage firm and with a possible eye on running for a seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives next year.

Bennett said he found coffee shops to be a great place to study in between appointments for work. It also made him feel like a traditional-age college student.

“It gave me that college feel because other people besides me were working on papers. It was encouraging,” he said.

He figured out other tricks to make his schedule work. For instance, at the gym in the morning, he would use his smartphone’s text-to-voice function to read research papers while he ran on the treadmill. And because most of his assignments were due on Sundays, he made Mondays his free day.

“My work is asynchronous, my school is asynchronous,” he said. “I don’t have to sync up with a schedule, really.”

When Bennett speaks at the World Campus event on Friday and walks across the stage on Saturday, his wife and his parents will be in attendance, too. Bennett is the first in his father’s family to go to college, and so seeing his son receive a master’s degree carries even more significance.

“It’s a pretty big deal for him,” said Bennett.

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about learning online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 13, 2018