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Learning in Community: SNU’s Cohort Model

Blog 1 Cohort Model - Final

Registrar. Regalia. Provost. Higher education could use its own glossary if you ask us. But here’s a strange word for one of the most important parts of an adult degree program: cohort.

A cohort is the group of students with whom you’ll progress through your classes. But at SNU, it’s not just a group of people. It’s a strategic approach to adult education founded on the belief that learning in community is essential to your success. Earning your degree online as a busy adult doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having a strong network of classmates. Here are few things that make the SNU cohort a key piece to your success. 

A built-in support system

For some, the cohort model is a chance to develop new friendships and professional connections. Others may not have the margin to invest quite as much in new relationships. But either way, just knowing there’s a group of people who are going through the same curriculum, challenges and schedules as you makes a world of difference. Completing a degree in your adult life is a vibrantly unique experience. Some days it’s stimulating and interesting. On other days, it can be stressful. When it feels like too much, there’s nothing like the power of hearing “we can do this” from your classmates.

If you ask us, we highly recommend taking full advantage of this community. Don’t be afraid to take initiative. Chances are, your classmates are hoping someone will be the first to reach out. Start or join a group thread (on GroupMe, a Facebook group, etc.). That way you have a quick way to engage in conversation, ask questions about the material and have some laughs along the way. Or even give it some structure by making it a prayer or study group. Support each other and offer accountability for maintaining healthy habits as you go. Over the course of your program, you and your classmates will journey through so much life together—the ups and downs, the trials and wins. You are designed for relationships, and your education shouldn’t be an exception. Lean into your cohort and share your experiences—the heartaches, new jobs, growing families, challenging lessons and all.

A world of perspective

At SNU, the cohort approach even shapes how the curriculum is delivered. This is where group discussions come in. It’s one thing to understand the facts—it’s another to understand how they apply in various contexts. Our students come from diverse fields, professions, stages of life and beliefs. You may be studying the same thing, but you’re all coming at it from different angles: working parents, folks who are pivoting late in their career, young adults coming out of high school, military personnel and everyone in between. This creates a rich learning environment, keeping you engaged and curious. Diverse dialogue makes what you’re learning come alive in new ways. Plus, with different industries and careers represented, your understanding of the marketplace will broaden that much more.

As globalization continues to transform the job market, employers are seeking professionals who have a well-rounded understanding of the industries at play. Your classmates are a source of learning just like the material itself. Take the time to ask them questions about the trends and dynamics they see in their work. Notice how the curriculum applies to their particular perspectives. Being innovative and successful often starts with seeing the world through others’ eyes.

Professional networking out of the gate

There truly is no such thing as too many professional connections. Whether you love networking or not, it’s an essential practice for any career. But don’t let it intimidate you. At the end of the day, it’s just about paying attention to the people you meet along the way. Knowing people who work at different organizations is invaluable. You never know what the future may hold and what contacts may come in handy.

The cohort model also gives you a chance to demonstrate your expertise and the quality of your work—making the references section of your resume that much easier to fill out. And if you’re finding yourself at a crossroads, it’s the perfect way to explore the idea of other vocations and connect with people who can help you make a move. The job market is constantly becoming more competitive in the digital age. Having compelling references can help you rise to the top of the list.

SNU believes in a holistic approach to learning. We treat our students as real people with real lives. That’s why we think it’s so important to offer flexible degree programs and encourage you to build lasting relationships. And the benefits of a cohort aren’t just for face-to-face students taking classes at one of our Oklahoma locations. SNU’s online degree programs are designed for community and connection, too. With so many ways to engage with each other virtually, you don’t have to compromise. You might even find online classmates who live in your area.


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