Jennifer Curtiss had been working as a graphic designer at Richland College in the communications and marketing department for several years. During district-wide downsizing, she sought additional job security and started adjunct teaching. She taught a class in graphic design and found that she loved being an educator so much that she wanted to do it on a full-time basis.

(Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Curtiss)

(Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Curtiss)

With that intent, she went back to school to earn a masters in Science in Learning Technology. This degree qualifies her to work as full-time faculty in the graphic design and new media fields, which include web, video and social marketing.

In order to continue working and teaching on a part-time basis, Curtiss selected an online education.

How do you balance school, work and home life?

“Balancing school and work takes discipline and time management. I block out an amount of time to two to three times a week to dedicate to school projects, usually in the evenings and weekends. I teach during the day, so that time I must make up on my work schedule. This makes for long days every day.”

In reference to going back to school, what was the hardest thing for you?

“The hardest thing about going back was getting started and finding the right program. I researched three different universities, their programs and degrees. Weighing the cost to return on my investment was a large consideration. In the end, I decided it indeed had long-term benefits, so I took the plunge.”

What would you say to those contemplating going back to school and taking online courses?

“Online courses worked great for me, but they many not be for everyone. You must rely on email and forums when needing additional help in the course. Like all classes, some instructors are more responsive than others. One surprising aspect of the online community is that relationships still emerge. For instance, if you are following a specific learning track, you may encounter the same students in different classes. After several classes, you feel like you know your virtual classmates.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at

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