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After gaining five years of experience as an elementary school teacher, Nicole Collins is ready to follow her heart.

“I love being in the classroom, and I have a passion for working with students with learning disabilities,” she said. “To do that, I know I need a master’s degree. I wanted to get it done quickly.”

Collins then enrolled in the online Master of Education in Special Education program at Mississippi College (MC). She is on track to graduate in December 2022.

“I thought the program at Mississippi College was the best way for me to get my master’s degree in special education,” she said. “It was exactly what I was looking for in a master’s program.”

The flexibility of the online format was also important to Collins, who teaches kindergarten students at Isable Elementary School in Jackson.

“With the 7-week courses in the program, it goes by pretty fast,” she said. Collins found the program to be manageable despite her busy full-time teaching schedule.

Since looking into the online M.Ed. in Special Education program, Collins has been impressed with every aspect of the Mississippi College experience.

“The staff in the recruiting office is amazing,” she said. “Every question that I had, they answered. They reached out to me and helped me out. It was great.”

Setting Forth

Collins was born and raised in Jackson. She did not plan to become a teacher out of high school, but she developed a love of the profession while supervising children.

“I worked at a daycare, but I didn’t want to teach the really young kids,” she said. “I took a couple of classes and stuck with it. I love it.”

Before gaining experience in the classroom, Collins completed a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Tougaloo College in 2015. Six years later, she enrolled in the master’s degree program at MC.

“I didn’t know if I would have time to catch on to what I was learning in an online program,” she said, noting that the format requires students to be self-driven. “If you have questions, the professors help you out. They are always good about getting back to me quickly.”

Collins believes that the courses she is taking in the online M.Ed. in Special Education program are preparing her to achieve her goal and make a successful transition to special education instruction.

“The classes that I have taken are in line with the test to get my special education endorsement,” she said. “That’s my next step. I will start working on it in the spring. I have enjoyed each course in the program, so far.”

Raising the Bar

Collins plans to put the finishing touches on her master’s degree by walking in MC’s commencement in Clinton, Mississippi.

“I didn’t get a chance to walk in my undergraduate commencement. I definitely plan to be there for this one,” she said. “I am the first person in my immediate family with a bachelor’s degree, and I am the first to work on a master’s degree. My mom was ecstatic.”

Because her mother passed away while Collins was still working her way through the program, graduation day will be bittersweet. Collins plans to focus her efforts on landing a job teaching special education for the 2022-23 school year.

“Having the master’s degree will open up opportunities for me,” she said. “There is a teacher shortage all over, so the degree will help me go into special education.”

Collins is happy with her decision to pursue an advanced degree at Mississippi College. She would recommend the program to any of her colleagues.

“I would tell teachers to look into it. You have to make sure to align your schedule — a deadline is a deadline. Go for it. It’s doable. It has been above my expectations.”

Learn more about MC’s online M.Ed. in Special Education program.

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