Diane Schmidt

In 2008, Diane Schmidt began attending the information quality (IQ) symposium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where UA Little Rock Professor John Talburt has been a participant, speaker, and advocate of the university’s IQ graduate programs for many years. While Diane has a master’s degree in information management and has been in the data management field for over 20 years, getting a Ph.D. wasn’t in her plan until recently.

“It’s just not something I thought that I could do, but realizing with all this experience, with such a basis in the education space with the M.S. in information management, I just decided it was probably now or never,” Diane said. Diane decided to apply for the Ph.D. online program in computer and information sciences with an emphasis in IQ. In the fall of 2017, she began classes.

Diane has traveled the world for her job in financial consulting services – an industry where doors don’t close at 5 p.m. and Diane could find herself working well into the night to meet a client deadline. Because of this, the online option has been an ideal fit for her lifestyle and demanding career needs. However, as for any degree program, there are challenges.

“The biggest challenge is not just the class. It’s the work before the class. It’s the work after the class … Your time is so valuable. Ensure that you make it a priority. Ensure that you’re committing yourself to the program,” she said.

Advice for Students

“The first thing is attend class, and pay attention. It’s really important that you block out time in your calendar, and that you turn off your phone, and you tell your friends and family that you’re not available. You really do need to pay attention. So, when I am in class, I’m in class. I’ve got my laptop. I actually take notes. I know the classes are recorded, but for me it’s just important. It’s just an old habit that I have. I like to take notes, and focus on certain points that the professors have placed emphasis on.

“The second thing is participate in class. Just because you’re not sitting in a classroom doesn’t mean you can’t participate. You really need to be active, and provide your comments and opinions when it makes sense. I think it’s really important to be active in the class. The professors are looking for you to do that to make this program successful in a remote capacity.

“The other thing is: establish a relationship with the professor. Let him or her know who you are, your experience, things that you may have expertise in, that you may have a suggestion in, or that you’d like to help them with. That’s also really important.

“The other thing is: find classmates in your class or your program that you can create a study group with, that you can follow up with and ask questions. If you have just what you think is a silly question, and you don’t want to bother the professor It’s great to find a buddy or a couple of buddies out there in case you absolutely have to miss a class. I know the classes are recorded, but you may just want to hear other people’s perspective. Those are some of the things that seem to be working for me, so I really try to stick with them.”

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