My first phone call with Admissions at Southern New Hampshire University happened on May 14th—just about six weeks before the start of their next term—and I was a student just weeks later. I'm an English & Creative Writing major with a concentration in Fiction.
Why Southern New Hampshire University?
I have logical reasons and illogical reasons for choosing SNHU, and I'll start with the illogical. I'm from Rhode Island. I deeply miss New England. If I can't live there, I can at least attend a New England university online and sort-of feel like I'm there. As I said, illogical.
Southern New Hampshire University—SNHU—advertised two important things. One, it has a fantastic writing program. Two, it's a real school. I wanted a school that's been around for a while, a school that was brick-and-mortar long before offering online degree programs. SNHU was founded in 1932 and is a respected institution. It's affordable, and from the first phone call, I knew the school would be invested in my success. To build my foundation, I needed a school with a strong foundation, and SNHU was it.
Enrollment and Getting Started
I had less than a month to get the financials worked out, and my transcripts transferred, and I was pretty worried. My last experience with a university was over 25 years ago. It used to take months to get all that stuff worked out. Even when I went for the Associates in 2002, the enrollment process was overly complicated.
Molly, my Admissions advisor at SNHU, practically enrolled me over the phone. There was a short form to fill out online, and then it was on to the FAFSA. This is brilliant. Having one financial aid form that you can send to any school you want with the click of a mouse is fantastic. True to form, though, the government put me through three levels of checks before it would finalize the aid. It took 28 days (and three trips to a notary) to get through that process.
The transcripts were just as easy. I was able to send them electronically, for free, by visiting my previous schools' websites and sending a simple request.
Here's a Little Advice
If you're heading back to school and you haven't been a student in a while, get your old transcripts anyway. I've mentioned that I dropped out of college in the early 90s; the classes that I did manage to pass transferred to Southern New Hampshire. All the classes from my Associates in 2002 transferred (only some were applicable) and that was a surprise because the degree came from a for-profit university (which shall not be named). Transferred credits do not count toward the GPA at SNHU, but they do cut down on time and money needed to finish the degree. I transferred in just about half of my required credits.
Full Time or Part-Time?
Full time at SNHU is two classes at a time per term. Each term is eight weeks long. Terms are continuous, but there are breaks throughout the year—generally, a week-long break follows a pair of terms. The decision to go full time or part-time is entirely subjective. I decided to take one class in my first term, with the intention of taking two afterward should everything go well. It did, and I did.
The school says that each class takes 14–16 hours per week, about 30 hours per pair of classes, but that will depend on the class and the skill level of the student. I don't think I spent more than 2–8 hours per week—total—on pairs of general education classes like HIS-200 and HUM-200. Later classes, like ENG-340: Context of Writing and LIT-229: Intro to Mythology, took up more time. Still, two hours per day during the week plus 6-8 hours on the weekends, about 16–18 total, has been enough to handle two classes at a time.
Once my paperwork was finalized and I'd decided on my full-time status, all that was left was for Molly to enroll me in my first course and hand me off to my permanent advisor. My first class was ENG-123: English Composition II, and I've now been with the same advisor since I started; Tahisha.
All that was left was to learn how to go to school online.