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Student Perspective: Navigating Virtual MSP

Over a year has passed since MSP moved all of our operations remote in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have predicted what is now the “new normal.” Below, Kenneth McDermott (MA) explores his experience in our virtual format.

Coming into the MA program knowing it would be virtual, left me unenthused originally about the prospect of having to start my MA online. Knowing I would not get to meet my cohort or professors in person took a bit of the wind out of my sails. Barring that, I was determined to adapt to a style of classroom that, even if It had not been my preferred method of learning, was ultimately going to get me closer to my goal of obtaining my MA.

Essentially, I was of the mindset to make the best of a bad situation and that you only get out what you put in, so don’t expect more until you do more. While I still highly desire that in person format, as I reflect on the benefits to online learning thus far, believe it or not, there are a few.

The first I would say is its reduction of certain stressors. I do not have to wake up early to get ready, or rush from work to make it to class. I have saved a small fortune in gas money, and I can feel better that I have not contributed as much as I normally would have to climate change. Also, its demand of me to continually improve my self-discipline to meet required class times and assignment due dates. Due to online learning being for many, myself included, an easier to forget format versus having to be to a classroom in-person, this is a key skill to have for any future therapist.

Subjectively speaking, I would give MSP an “A” in how they have handled a transition to online learning. While I cannot objectively make a comparison to how MSP is in a traditional in-person format (yet), I can compare it to my previous experiences. I had heard through discussions and emails that the staff and faculty at MSP worked diligently over the summer to transition to an online format from an in-person one. This gave me confidence not only in the willingness of MSP to provide my fellow students and I with a quality education but also that the school was being proactive in having a plan in place, where other schools and universities I had heard, were taking a more wait and see approach.

The pandemic and transition to online learning has not been easy for many. I feel that if one approaches the transition to a virtual learning environment from a perspective and willingness to understand the circumstances, and have a desire to adapt and thrive, one can overcome many of its challenges. One can find success in an online environment, as I have found in attending MSP, even virtually.

Photo of Kenneth McDermott

Kenneth McDermott is in his first year of the part-time MA program.