Tracy Lynn Lemon received a UW Colleges degree with her fellow classmates on May 19, 2012 — with one key difference. She completed her associate of arts and science degree over the Internet from her home in Merrill without ever having been required to set foot on a Wisconsin campus.

She earned her degree through UW Colleges Online, which offers the same associate of arts and science degree with the same admissions criteria and educational standards as the on-campus associate degree from any of the 13 two-year UW Colleges campuses. UW Colleges Online classes are taught by professors from the two-year UW Colleges campuses, who use the same curriculum and course materials as they do in their face-to-face classes.

“Online classes helped me study at home while also spending time with my family and being able to continue my full-time job,” said Lemon, a single mom with two girls.

Courses have deadlines and assignments just like traditional on-campus courses. However, UW Colleges Online allows learners to “go to class” at any time through the Internet. The fully accredited program enables students like Lemon to pursue their associate’s degree without giving up their present job or spending long periods of time away from home.

“Students find they receive a lot of personal attention in this online program,” said David Brigham, director of Distance Education.

“Students can reach their instructors and advisors through email or a quick telephone call,” he added. “I think students are surprised by how much interaction they have with their classmates and with their instructors. Plus, our graduates have gained skills and abilities that enable them to look at and understand the world in a different way than before.”

Further, obtaining a degree greatly increases graduates’ chances of earning a higher income over the course of their lifetime. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person with a college degree, including an associate’s degree, earns more money on average than a person with just a high school diploma or some college.

Lemon plans to continue on with her education in health management. Her ultimate goal is to become a radiologist or ultrasound technician.

UW Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman and sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online that offers an associate of arts and science degree and prepares students of all ages and backgrounds for baccalaureate and professional programs.

UW Colleges Online enrolls students from all 72 Wisconsin counties and nearly all 50 U.S. states. The program is seeing consistent enrollment growth, including a 15% enrollment increase for the summer 2012 semester. This increase comes on the heels of a 16% increase for the spring 2012 semester.

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