Unity College Distance Education opens up opportunities for anyone in the world to earn a degree steeped in sustainability science
Anyone who has searched for the perfect place to pursue a post-secondary degree knows that the best fit for a school isn’t always the one right down the road. It might not be in your home state, in fact, or even in the same time zone. Unlike most four-year traditional students right out of high school, adults who work full-time or have a family generally can’t pick up their lives and move to pursue an education.
Samantha Kukoleck started her college career as a four-year traditional student. She knew that she wanted to pursue a career in fashion design, so she moved to Manhattan and enrolled in Parsons The New School. She quickly discovered many of the fashion industry’s ethics didn’t align with her beliefs, and instead chose to follow another of her passions — art — at a school in Savannah, Georgia. But it still didn’t click. So she returned home, picked up a couple jobs — one at a local greenhouse, another as a hostess at a restaurant — and took a few months to figure out what she wanted out of her future.
She weighed the option of going to a local community college and taking general education courses, but it didn’t feel like the right move for her. “I have always been very into nature, but I never really thought about pursuing a degree in it because I was never the strongest in science in high school,” Kukoleck said. Then she remembered a former high school classmate who had gone to school in Unity, Maine. She did some research and discovered that Unity College had just begun to offer an online bachelor’s program, and it was exactly what she was looking for. “This is something I’d actually want to do.”
Samantha, who is just wrapping up her first semester as an Environmental Studies major, isn’t alone. Alyssa Thomas, 26, of Levittown, Penn., had also previously attended college and found that it wasn’t quite right for her. A few years later while searching for schools that offered a wildlife conservation program online, she found Unity College’s Distance Education.
“I’ve always been concerned about preserving the environment, and I see a lot of changes going on locally and globally with that. I feel like there’s something I can do,” Thomas said. “And that’s what drove me in this direction.”
Unity College’s mission that is focused on sustainability science lends the school a niche that separates its online degrees from those of other institutions.
“As America’s Environmental College, I’ve always said that the world will benefit from having more Unity College graduates,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “As we are in the Environmental Century, employers are looking for graduates who are environmental stewards. These courses were designed in partnership with industry leaders who know what skills and abilities employers need right now, and in the future. Where we were graduating 100 or so students every year, the creation of our Distance Education program allows us to expand that, not only creating more graduates of Unity College, but also reaching new regions and new audiences like never before.”
For Alyssa, being able to go online and complete her courses at her own pace is something that appealed to her, as she juggles her schoolwork along with a job at a local cafe. Rather than spend five or six hours in a physical class setting, she can do the work in her own time.
“These degrees are intentionally designed for adults who may have families or work full-time and might not be able to attend classes in person, or for those who live across the country — or even the globe — and have an interest in earning a Unity College degree,” said Dr. Amy Arnett, Chief Distance Education Officer at Unity College. “Our Distance Education program is created to offer flexibility, so that students can reach their goals at a pace that fits their lifestyle, or even put their education on pause if they need to and pick it back up when they’re ready.”
Samantha echoes that sentiment, also adding that students don’t sacrifice interactions with professors or fellow students by taking online courses.
“It’s funny, I actually talked to a lot of the people in the classes through email and stuff, and we’ve kind of grown that relationship just over the internet. It’s like one big group chat,” Samantha said. “I’m able to actually enjoy the classes and the learning process, and I feel like I’m doing it in my spare time rather than going to school. It’s really awesome.”
While Samantha hopes to someday travel the world and Alyssa has her sights set on working with and helping animals, neither have a concrete idea of where they’ll go once they earn their Unity College degrees. But both know that having that education will help open doors for them once they do.
The four bachelor’s degrees currently offered through Distance Education are:
- Environmental Criminal Justice
- Environmental Studies
- Sustainable Business Management
- Wildlife Conservation
For more information on Unity College’s Distance Education, visit online.unity.edu.