Norwich University: My Experiences

For some reason, that I can’t yet understand, Facebook has decided that I need to see ads for a school I’ve already attended. It’s a waste of views for the ad but I suppose Facebook has to put them somewhere. In any case, I thought I would take some time to talk about my time at Norwich University and what I experienced. If you are reading this you are probably aware that Norwich is a small military college in Northfield, Vermont. It is America’s oldest military college, founded in 1809. The undergraduate program is mostly the core of cadets who are training for careers in the military. Because of this, many officers in the military have attended here or are aware of the school.

Starting in 2009, I studied in their School of Graduate and Continuing Studies and earned the Master’s in Diplomacy. I found their poster in my political science department at the University of Northern Colorado. I don’t remember what intrigued me about it but I decided I would put it on my list of schools to apply. I didn’t have a great GPA and I didn’t come from a great undergraduate program. The undergraduate program in UNC is philosophy based. Such a program is really out of date, policy based programs are more normal. This left me ill-prepared for graduate level thinking, work, and writing. I applied to several other schools but with my GPA being on the low end of things most places did not accept my application. I decided to take the GRE to improve my prospects. I test really well and I spent plenty of time studying in order to do really well. Norwich was considering me on a provisional basis before I took the test and that was part of the reason I chose them. I was very fortunate and scored really well on the GRE (650) and I immediately received invitations to apply from Gonzaga, UCLA, University of Texas, and the University of Arkansas. I didn’t really want to move away from Greeley where I was based so an online program like Norwich University appealed to me. I was also a bit bitter that it took a high standardized test score to get any interest. I decided that for work and relationship reasons to stay where I located. I enrolled with them and started in August of 2009. My journey to the final week-long residency and graduation was long and difficult mostly due to contracting the swine flu and ending the program with walking pneumonia. I had help from Harold Kearsley who was head of the IR program at the time. He literally sat on the phone with me for 2 hours and taught me how to write for graduate school and get my skills up to standard. I failed my first seminar due to my illness and ineptitude and I had to take a 3 month break from the program in my 2nd year and then get back into the program to finish. Dr. Kearsley is the only reason I graduated. He was amazing. I never felt along or without support from the faculty. When I was working on my post-graduate job situation, faculty made themselves available for phone conversations and emails to help me find my way. All in all, I had a really positive experience and I learned so much more than I would have otherwise. It formed the basis of things that I would do later.

In the comments on the Facebook ads that I’ve decided to read, the first question people ask is, “What are the job prospects after I graduate?” I will say here what I write in the comments. If you already work in government or are in the military, this program will skyrocket you into whatever job you are after. That is particular for my program. The other programs which include an excellent MBA, Information Assurance, and other programs I’m sure have the same effect. Many of the people I met during Residency Week were there to improve their job prospects and many already had fresh opportunities waiting for them. As for Diplomacy, if you have a job in government or the military then this program is for you. That’s not great news for the rest of us. I can say from my experience as someone who works primarily in marketing, that my degree (besides the added effect of having it) has not done very much for my job prospects. There isn’t often much demand from political scientists. When I embarked on this program I had intended to follow up with law school or a PhD program. I deeply wanted to work overseas at the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice. Between my health and the economIy, was unable to fully pursue that. I also was really fatigued intellectually after the program. It is a rigorous program with plenty of reading, writing, and discussion. It is a major committment that should not be taken lightly. Unlike many other programs, Norwich has been doing distance graduate programs for about 25 years. It has all the parts of any regular program and should not be taken lightly.

The million dollar question is, “Would you do it all over again?” I would go to graduate school again but I would not study in this program. I would apply for the MBA with a marketing emphasis and improve my skills in that way. Diplomacy doesn’t do much for your job prospects and the $54,000 in debt doesn’t pay itself off. I’m really glad I went to graduate school and I’m really happy that I went to Norwich. They have made me feel apart of the Norwich family more than the University of Northern Colorado ever made me feel apart of anything despite membership in student government and campus involvement. Every quarter they sent me new Norwich swag including stickers, a blanket, and a hoodie. President Schneider is passionate about helping the school grow and making it the best it can be. Norwich alumni are everywhere and the alumni network is really powerful, if engaged properly.

I hope this helps anyone who is trying to decide if this program is for them or if the school is for them. Find a program at Norwich that really helps you and this choice could take you far.

For other specific information and such please do not hesitate to contact me via social media: @cameroncowan or on Facebook.