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Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is, surprisingly, an institution of higher education located in Manchester, New Hampshire. They've been advertising in the past few years that they have an excellent online degree program. They also have several campuses in New Hampshire for regular classroom courses, if that's what floats your boat.

I recently decided to get another degree, this time a Bachelors of Arts in English and Creative Writing. The Veterans Administration chipped in to cover the courses and books. This is a review of my experiences taking classes and earning my degree as an online-only student.

It definitely helped that I used to teach at the college level and that I'm a geezer with 37 years in the IT field before I had to retire from installing servers in stores for Cabela's or to travel to places like Diego Garcia to install systems for Raytheon. The online system for SNHU is based on a customized version of Blackboard, a commercial software package for online classes. It works pretty well, since I only had one course interrupted by an outage that lasted less than 24 hours. Their help desk is responsive and the folks in their registrars office get back to you within two business days.

The instructors were mostly very good. There were a few who seemed to be a bit over their head with the subject they were teaching. I had one creative writing instructor who had a BA in English and exactly one self-published fantasy novel with an Amazon ranking of over six million. That wouldn't bother me if they were proficient with the subject they were teaching. This instructor was giving out some very bad advice to people -- "You don't need agents, just mail your manuscript to any of the Big 5 publishers", "Any contracts you get are set and you have to take them or leave them", and "When a publisher pays you an advance they're buying out your copyright from that point on." All of those are incorrect, and I voiced my disagreement by saying that all of my experiences were completely different. She did not like anyone disagreeing with her. I got my lowest grades in her two classes, but she also got low review scores and very detailed comments at the end of the classes.

For the rest of the classes, they were good to great. I really enjoyed the poetry classes and the playwriting course. Both helped me to improve my works and I now have a lot more poetry published and I have two short plays that were produced. 

The online classes are built around discussion boards where the students interact on a weekly basis. Each course lasts eight weeks for online undergraduates, usually one takes two at a time. I had so many completed college courses under my belt that I had to get only 60 credits to get the new degree. For the most part, I had no issues with completing weekly modules unless I went to the hospital for health issues (happened four or five times). The instructors worked with me to catch up. They seemed interested in my success, which is always a plus.

I'd recommend SNHU if you were looking to take classes in an online environment. Since I'm a stupidly prolific writer I never had issues with cranking out stories or papers except for the Literary Theory classes, which required a lot of extra time on my part to get them right. I've heard from other majors who said their programs were pretty good. If you're interested in investigating the SNHU degree programs, you can find them at http://www.snhu.edu.

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