There were only two concerns Jane Bell Miller had before starting her educational journey online. One, if she could manage the technology involved. Two, how she would pass a math class after 60 years of not studying the subject.
Miller isn’t like your typical online student. At 77 years young, she set out to complete her bachelor’s degree through Ball State Online.
“Academic success is not about the age of the body or how long since you were last in school,” said Miller. “It has everything to do with determination and a willingness to do whatever it takes.”
Now or Never
Rather than attending college after graduating from high school in 1958 – a decision she’s always regretted – Miller began working as a secretary at the University of Virginia. However, throughout the course of her 40-year secretarial career, Miller picked up enough credits at community college to earn her associate degree in 1997.
Twenty years later, Miller decided that if she was going to earn her bachelor’s degree, it was now or never. Ball State Online academic advisor, Laura Waldron, helped Miller determine which of her prior courses would transfer into the bachelor of general studies program.
“Taking that first step is the hardest. From then on, it’s just a matter of following through on the next step, and the next,” said Miller. “I credit Ball State’s staff with making my online learning experience so successful.”
Miller has never felt disconnected to her instructors or classmates, even though her classes are completely online. In fact, being an online student has given her the freedom to open up in assignments and discussion boards in a way that might otherwise be intimidating in a classroom setting.
A Fueling Factor
Completing her education means more to Miller than just a diploma; it’s also a way to keep her mind active and sharp at her age.
“A factor fueling my focus on education is that my mother died of complications from Alzheimer’s, so I am willing to do anything in my power to try to avoid the same fate. Luckily for me, I thoroughly enjoy the process of learning,” said Miller.
It’s evident Miller’s doing just that, as proof of the 4.0 GPA she’s maintained every semester at Ball State.
“It is so satisfying to see that my brain can handle the material just as well as a 20-year-old [student],” said Miller.
Never Stop Learning
Miller is set to graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s in general studies, but admits that her learning will not stop there. After graduation, she plans to resume piano lessons and work to improve her bridge game as a way to continue exercising her brain.
“I had held back for years before looking into finishing my degree,” said Miller. “I’m so glad I decided, ‘It’s now or never.’ ”
As for that math class, Miller proved once again that there wasn’t a challenge she couldn’t tackle. She did, however, make sure to celebrate her passing grade and no longer needing to study probabilities and statistics again.