University of Wisconsin-Stout

Nov. 7, 2011

Angela Bodzislaw is a young mother who lives in Chetek. She’s working on her bachelor’s degree at University of Wisconsin-Stout but doesn’t have to worry about day care, commuting or making it to class on time.

The reason is that she’s a distance education — or online — student. She takes all of her classes at home and studies when it’s convenient, usually at night after her daughter, a toddler, goes to bed.

“That’s what’s nice about the online program,” said Bodzislaw, 26, whose husband is a disabled veteran. “This is what works for us.”

Since 2010 she has been studying human development and family studies. She expects to graduate in 2012.

Bodzislaw is taking three classes this semester and will take six classes next semester. Her goal, after getting her bachelor’s and then a master’s at UW-Stout, is to become a marriage and family therapist. She also is working on a certificate at UW-Stout on family life education.

National Distance Learning Week is Monday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Nov. 11. To help celebrate, UW-Stout Online is debuting its new Facebook page. Click on the Facebook icon on the UW-Stout Online page,

UW-Stout offers 35 programs online, or at a distance: eight undergraduate and 10 graduate programs, 10 certificate programs and seven certification programs. This fall, 1,379 students from around the state, country and world are enrolled, according to Doug Stevens, director of UW-Stout Online. That number has nearly tripled since 2008.

Students in the bachelor’s online programs typically transfer in with some credits and take core courses and general education courses online. UW-Stout also offers many other online courses not directly related to the online degree and certificate programs.

Bodzislaw acknowledges that taking classes online is much different than being in a classroom. She was a traditional student when she was younger, earning a two-year degree and also taking classes at UW-Barron County before enrolling at UW-Stout.

“I don’t feel like I’m really close to a lot of students in my classes, but it’s where I’m at in my life. I’m more focused on the school aspect rather than the social aspect, so it doesn’t bother me,” she said.

One of her professors at UW-Stout requires students to have a professional Facebook page, so they can interact as classmates. Other professors provide lectures via video. “The professors make you feel like you’re part of a class,” Bodzislaw said.

She chose UW-Stout over other online programs because of its reputation. “I would rather do the online program through a well-known state university. Stout is known for having good programs. They’re trustworthy,” she said.

A recent online graduate student, Loren Rochester, of Sun Prairie, was surprised at the amount of interaction he had with classmates. “One of the things that really struck me is the sense of camaraderie that develops in these classes between people who have never met before, face to face. I think this is very contrary to what most people think,” he said.

Another online student at UW-Stout is Troy Sherven, who works in Madison and lives in the nearby suburb of Oregon. Sherven, 37, expects to graduate in May with a bachelor’s in management. Last summer, Sherven was named to the UW System Board of Regents as the nontraditional student representative.

Many of the distance education students at UW-Stout transfer in to finish their degrees. They pay a $44 application fee and must provide high school and postsecondary school transcripts. The transfer coordinator is Linda Young, 715-232-1787,