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School pride for Global Campus students still important

Melissa Lynn poses in front of Central Michigan University's Warren location. Courtesy/Melissa Lynn

In the middle of class, Cadillac native Trisha Marr pauses to stop her 20-month-old twins from smashing apples into her new couch.

Marr, 34, is a married mother of four currently completing her pre-requisites for a Physicians Assistance license through Global Campus, with plans to complete the degree on-campus. 

While many CMU students call Mount Pleasant home, the university actually has 41 different locations through the Global Campus program. As of Fall 2016, 8, 442 students were enrolled in Global Campus. These students are just as much a part of the CMU community as those who step foot on campus every day. But how does someone identify with a campus they've never been to or perhaps never seen?

The answer lies in personal drive and a want to succeed said Jody Hassen, executive director of off-campus student services.

The average age for Global Campus is 35 for undergraduate students and 37 for graduate students, Hassen said. These students are usually managing work and their families, which geographically binds them to their location.

“This gives students who can’t come to Mount Pleasant the access to an incredible CMU education,” Hassen said. “Many are working full time and might not have been able to complete a program when they were 22. This is about them being able to maintain their educational goals while keeping up with their daily lives.” 

Marr needed something she could fit into her hectic schedule. With two teenage sons, young twins, a husband and a full-time job, campus life wasn’t an option.

“I still have school pride. I put just as much effort into becoming a CMU student as an on-campus student would,” Marr said. “I would love to attend a few college games and consider joining a few things when I have more free time.”

Marr said online students have to be just as determined to go to class and stay on task as those who trek campus every day. 

“It’s easy to say it can wait until tomorrow so you can have a beach day,” she said. “(The website is) also subject to glitches. Sometimes things aren’t where they’re supposed to be or it’s hard to reach a professor on certain days. Having friends (in the classes) helps.”

For Melissa Lynn, who’s attending CMU at its Warren location, Global Campus is more personal and less competitive. She graduated from CMU in 2016 before changing career paths. 

“There’s a strong feeling of ‘we’re going to get each other through this together,’” said the Clinton Township native. "We help each other out when we’re struggling on something. It’s a comfortable atmosphere.”

Lynn came back to CMU after her local community college didn't offer the classes she needed. When she discovered Global Campus, it allowed her to take a variety of classes and continue her school pride, she said.

Her experience at CMU was like "being a part of a huge family," she said. But at campus, she felt a sense of competition especially in group projects. At Global Campus, she feels like the group work — where she's been paired with people who understand the material better than her and can help her learn — are more geared toward helping her understand material better.

Now, not only does she feel confident in her course work, she feels confident in her continued position as a student at CMU — even from afar.

"No matter where I go in the United States, I always get people telling me 'fire up, Chips' when I wear CMU gear," Lynn said. "It makes me happy. I'm proud to be an alumna."