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FIU Online Gives Freedom to Roam the World

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Jun 17, 2019, 9:00 AM.

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Valeria Ortega was cruising toward her bachelor’s degree – and hopes of traveling the world. But she wondered how academics would fit in her crowded itinerary. Her enrollment in a Florida International University fully online degree program allowed Ortega to continue her studies, work, and travels – without missing a beat.

Ortega was a college student in Chicago when she decided to switch majors to hospitality and tourism management. Her research revealed that the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at FIU was one of the top hospitality schools in the country. That program, plus the opportunity for work-related experience in Miami’s warm climate convinced the Midwesterner to head south to continue her studies.

“Miami seemed perfect for tourism and hospitality,” said the 23-year-old.

She had originally enrolled in traditional on-campus classes, but soon found that much of her coursework was conducted online. Course materials often also were available online and when she posted questions online, professors responded quickly. She soon decided to transition to the fully online format of the program. It offered the classes she needed—many even offered by the same professors she had on campus. 

“I already knew their teaching style,” she recalled, “so nothing really changed.”

Something Ortega didn’t realize when she moved to Miami was South Florida’s higher cost of living compared to Chicago. With money tight, Ortega returned home. That’s where FIU Online shined. Back in Chicago, Ortega moved in with a cousin and continued with her studies without missing a beat—or class.

An admitted procrastinator, online classes gave Ortega the freedom to juggle her courses and obligations at her two jobs. She learned to check her course outline on the first day of class to  plan for due dates and exams. If homework was posted early, she’d try to get that out of the way early.

“Being online taught me how to juggle my full-time work and the days I had to do homework or prepare for exams,” she said.

For Ortega, freedom begets freedom. Since she’s been full-time online, Ortega’s traveled to Switzerland, Costa Rica, Nashville, and also back to Miami several times. Travel plans never hampered Ortega’s coursework or her graduation, which occurred recently in May. Ortega is on her way to Austin, Texas, to enroll in a manager-in-training program she found through the Chaplin School. 

For Ortega, FIU Online was the ticket to managing school, work, travel—and life.

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