“We need to start referring to ourselves as what we are: Alabama’s leading online university,” said Jack Hawkins, the chancellor of Troy University, during the Board of Trustees meeting in May 2017.
Troy’s leadership in developing online programs and new technology has made it the largest online program in the state of Alabama.
According to Glynn Cavin, the associate vice chancellor for distance learning, one of the many benefits of online classes is the flexibility they offer.
In any semester, the number of students taking online classes, based on the average of the past three years, is about 6,000 students from all across the world.
There are also students on campus registered for online classes.
“We have approximately 1,000 students that are Troy campus students taking online courses, (varying) by semester.” Cavin said. “Some of these students, being first-time college attenders, seek a way to ease into college.
“However, most are upperclassmen whose schedules may not permit them to take a prerequisite course they may need in order to graduate.”
Cassidy Counter, a senior economics major from Madison, is a full-time student on Troy campus but is also taking two additional online classes, namely, “Intro to Social Scientific Inquiry” for her major and “Philosophy of Love” for her philosophy minor.
“Online classes helped me fulfill my graduation requirements and kept my schedule from being crammed,” Counter said.
Cavin said that although these courses are convenient, students should be wary of time management since the terms are shorter.
Troy online courses are broken into nine week terms and have four terms with term I and III starting at the beginning of each regular semester and term II and IV midway through the fall and spring semesters, respectively.
According to Cavin, Troy Online differs in many ways from campus life, but holds true to the same values, providing for military veterans and their families with generous scholarships tailored to the online program.
“We have specific scholarships for online students, which includes the Military and Family Scholarship, which was very innovative for Troy University,” Cavin said. “Now we have a few other schools saying, ‘Oh we ought to do that too.’”
Other online scholarships include the Horizon Scholarship, which is for students fully enrolled in the online program exclusively.
“Another innovation currently on the rise with our online school is the Low Cost/No Cost Textbook Program,” Cavin said. “The goal for this new system is to offer textbooks for all general studies at low or no cost to the student.”
Although this is a work in progress, students have already seen the benefit of this program.
According to Troy University Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness (IRPE), which provides services needed for Troy University institutional research, students have saved more than $200,000 per 2,000 students since summer of 2017.
According to Donna Brown, assistant director of student professional development for Troy Online who works exclusively with Trojan Café and Career Services, Troy Online sets itself apart from other online schools by being centered around an online community that offers students the opportunity to network with others and get the college experience they desire.
“We wanted to create a way for our online students to feel that they are a part of the university as a traditional student does,” Brown said. “A lot of times we’ll utilize our discussion boards to host a contest, and our students from all over can post.
“For instance, we may ask them to post, and they’ll be entered in to a drawing to win one of five T-shirts.”
Counter said she had no experience with the tools provided exclusively for online students.
“I honestly haven’t looked at Trojan Café at all,” Counter said. “I feel like it’s something that is more beneficial to full online students, but I have many resources available being on campus.”
According to Brown, the success of online students participating in group discussions and these contests has been immediate, with 50 to 60 students posting in a recent contest within hours of its creation.
“Online students love being able to feel that they’ve got a way to be part of the [school] spirit of Troy,” said Brown. “Now they feel like they’re just as important as traditional students.”
Through the online faculty’s efforts, online students have now taken initiative in growing this community by starting a virtual book club where students can share their favorite books with one another.
Additional information on Troy Online can be found on online.troy.edu.