Education via the Web

Home-schooled Craig resident earns degree over the Internet

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High-speed Internet access gave Craig resident Dona Shue the chance for a high-speed education that she expects will result in a high-tech career.

This week, Shue will be presented with her bachelor of fine arts degree in visual communications -- something she worked more than 40 hours a week for 13 months to obtain, while working full-time, training horses and running a bed and breakfast.

"It's been an intense 13 months," she said. "I'll be so glad with it's done. I'll finally get to enjoy weekends again."

Shue decided to enroll in the accelerated online course when she found the business world didn't satisfy her need to be creative.

But, she didn't know what field would.

"For some time, I knew there was something else I wanted to do, but I didn't know what or how," she said.

Spending a lot of time doing research on the Internet led Shue to determine that a career in graphic design was for her and she enrolled in the American Intercontinental University, one of few schools that offered the degree she was seeking completely online.

"At this point in my life, I couldn't pack up and move into a dorm," the 54-year-old collegian said. "The nice thing was I could gear this toward my schedule."

But it quickly became a huge part of her life. She'd get home from her full-time job at Moffat Insurance Agency and be on her computer by 6 p.m. where she would stay until 11 p.m. at the earliest. Her homework was due by 11 p.m. Saturday night, so she'd spend most of the day Saturday working.

Four nights a week she'd attend an interactive, real time class where she could hear her instructor's lecture and ask questions.

Her husband would cook dinner and bring it to her desk.

Being a retired school teacher, Shue's husband was very supportive of her decision to go back to school, but she thinks he's probably tired of cooking.

Earning an online degree is nearly as expensive as attending a university, Shue said.

"I'll be paying off student loans well into my golden years," she said. "Who would've thought at 54 years of age I'd have student loans?"

She loves what she's learned, but said at times she was in tears and ready to throw her computer out the window after a particularly difficult lesson.

"It's hard not to have someone right there to show me where I went wrong," she said.

She's adopted a "have laptop, will travel" attitude about her future. She hopes to bid for design jobs posted on the Internet, working from home. Eventually she'd like to combine her two loves -- graphic design and horses by designing event materials.

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