Meet Krishnaraj, who is earning a US college degree while living in India. He is graduating soon from our partner university Thomas Edison State University thanks to his hard work, and a little boost from our free courses.
This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.
Saylor Academy: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Do you live with your family or with friends?
Krishnaraj: My name is Krishnaraj, and I live with my parents in Mumbai, India. I am self-employed; I offer consultations/coaching for personal and business development. I lived as a monk for some years, during which I gained a lot of wisdom and insight into myself, and into human nature as a whole.
All this experience now makes me passionate about being a ‘force for good’ in the world; I seek to contribute to happier families, and a more peaceful, just world.
SA: How did you find Saylor Academy?
K: I actually came across Saylor Academy very randomly during a google search about [two] years ago. Back then, I was just looking for some free online courses in Mathematics and Science. But I could not pursue the courses consistently owing to some challenges in life. Back then, I also did not follow details about the ACE college-credit system in America. So, it didn’t really occur to me that this was quite a valuable learning resource.
In September 2018, I started to seriously pursue an online college degree with Thomas Edison State University. Now, I [have] greater understanding about the college credit system in America, and how there were several course providers I could complete courses with. My finances were quite tight when I started off with the degree, and I found Saylor to be among the most cost-effective options to earn college credits.
SA: What courses did you study at Saylor Academy?
SA: You mentioned you are also studying Thomas Edison State University. What was it like to study online?
K: Yes. I have completed all the necessary coursework for an Associate of Sciences- Mathematics & Bachelor of Arts- Liberal Studies (Psychology concentration) at Thomas Edison State University. Come September 2019, I will formally graduate from TESU. It was an interesting experience to study online.
I think it calls for a lot of intrinsic motivation and self-discipline, because there are no Professors chasing me around for assignments, or no exam deadlines. It is entirely up to me to give my all, and be in the ‘express-lane’ to a degree, or pursue a degree at a more leisurely pace. I chose the ‘express-lane’ option, and that is what I am grateful to TESU for – the option of a competency-based, self-paced degree. I am self-employed, and this offered me quite some flexibility with my work schedules.
Many days, I used to study for almost 10-12 hours, and that is how I managed to complete all the coursework in 10 months from start. I had zero college-credits to begin with. It was an intense learning experience, and although physically tiring at times, I don’t remember feeling frustrated at any point. I think that is another important pre-requisite for online learning: a love for learning, and an ability to enjoy academic rigour. Fortunately, I have this in me, and I enjoyed every bit of my journey to an online-degree.
SA: What do you like to do when you are not studying?
K: I am quite environmentally attuned, and like to participate in small, local volunteering drives like ‘beach cleaning’ or ‘lakes-cleaning’ along with my neighbours. Part of the reason for taking the ‘Environmental Ethics’ course on Saylor was this! I must say I understood many things about the environment, and the concept of ‘environmental-justice’ particularly impacted me.
I have been sharing all those learnings with fellow-volunteers now! I also enjoy offering free spoken and written English lessons to school-going children from lower economic backgrounds in my neighbourhood. I love music, and am quite well-trained in the vocal and instrumental forms of the Carnatic (South-Indian) style of classical music.
In my free time, I like to listen to music, practice on my own, and also take advanced lessons from experts. I love reading too. My choice of books pertains to subjects like philosophy, neuroscience, and personal development.
SA: What’s next? What do you want to do after you finish your degree?
K: I am interested in entering Grad School, and pursuing more advanced degrees in Psychology and Neuroscience. I would also like to further develop my business alongside.
SA: What advice do you have for other students considering university or Saylor Academy?
K: I would most definitely recommend Saylor Academy to prospective students; I enjoyed the courses. Saylor Academy has also played a role in enabling my long-time dream of earning a college degree come true, and I am thankful for that. If there are students who might be worried about their finances, I might want to encourage them by saying that if they have a dream, if they are determined about ‘making it’, then there are several low-cost paths like Saylor Academy that they can benefit from.
Saylor Academy has a whole wide world of learners, and we want everyone to meet. So, we’re holding a #SaylorSelfie challenge! Take a selfie with your certificate, share it on Twitter and/or Instagram, use the hashtag, tag @saylordotorg, share your story like Krishnaraj, and win a t-shirt. Learn More.
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Banner Photo by:Daniel Dara