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A Decade After College, Online Courses Prepare Student to Pursue Her Master’s Degree

Online Prerequisites Student Profile: Colleen Reynolds: MS-SLP '19

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Taking online prerequisite courses at MGH Institute of Health Professions helped Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology student Colleen Reynolds return to school after a decade-long detour from academics.

Reynolds says she always wanted to get a master's in the field, but life circumstances prevented her from furthering her education after completing a self-designed major in linguistics from Middlebury College in 2006. After teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea, being a newspaper reporter in New York, and working in local government, the desire to become an SLP returned.

She was accepted by the MGH Institute, her first choice, but needed to take several prerequisite courses before starting her master’s degree – not the easiest thing for someone working full-time and living in another state. The IHP’s Online Prerequisites for the Health Professions program became the answer. She successfully took six courses over two semesters from her New York home while still working her day job.

“I would go to work all day, and then I looked forward to reading new course work and meeting my classmates online,” said Reynolds, who is in her second year in the SLP program and is scheduled to graduate in 2019.

Reynolds was particularly impressed with lecturer Thomas Shull, who teaches phonetics courses and has helped children with special needs for the Boston Public Schools. “He drew upon his experiences as a speech-language pathologist,” she said. For example, Reynolds recalled, “He taught us to look for the order in the disorder – that by looking for patterns in a child’s speech production, you are in a better position to help a child with speech-sound issues, rather than by only tackling specific problems.”

Through the courses that used online discussions, video projects, and other digital tools, she was also able to learn from other students – some of whom have joined her at the IHP—who hailed from as far away as Austria, Nebraska, and Michigan, and as close as Boston.

“Taking these courses was extremely valuable,” noted Reynolds, who in addition to being in the SLP program is tutoring current prerequisite students. “It set the stage for my graduate studies, and I now have a solid foundation to complete my degree.”