Meaghan Cote hopes to someday own and operate a home-based equine therapy school for children with disabilities.
She took a major stride toward achieving that goal by graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Management and Leadership concentration from the online program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in May 2019.
"I always wanted a bachelor's degree," Cote said. "Since I want to be my own boss one day, and my dad and brother both have degrees in business, I knew I should get my degree in business. I wanted something that could be done all online and quickly. This program allowed me to get classes done on my time that fit within my budget."
Cote, a dental assistant at Nadeau Orthodontics in Kennebunk, Maine, is already licensed to teach animal therapeutics. She also gives riding lessons with her horse, Gunner, on the weekends.
The flexibility of UMPI's Competency-Based Education (CBE) YourPace program allowed her to attend school online and maintain that busy schedule.
"I did my schoolwork whenever I had a free moment," she said. "Sometimes I did my readings and quizzes on my lunch break or took an hour after work to do them. I did my final exams and papers on the weekends.
"Learning online and working at my own pace was the best option for me. Since everything is online and there are not extra reading materials, I always had access to the information I needed as long as I had Wi-Fi. I loved the CBE because it is all online."
Out of the Gates
Cote grew up in Saco, Maine, and started riding horses in elementary school. She worked at a restaurant and an ice cream shop while in high school. After graduation, she enrolled at the University of New England in hopes of becoming an orthodontist.
"After my first year, I knew I did not want to spend 10 more years in school," she said. "I was anxious to get into the workforce. I knew I still wanted to be in the dental field, so I took a semester-long assisting course which certified me as a dental assistant in 2012. I graduated second in my class."
While enrolled in the online BA in Business Administration program, Cote worked at Just for Kids as a pediatric dental assistant. With plenty of experience working with horses and children, business was the final piece she needed to complete the puzzle.
"Having business administration knowledge under my belt helps me do a better job," she said. "I also help out at the front desk in the dental office a couple of days a week. My boss allows me to continue getting extra hours as a front desk employee which helped me with my degree and vice versa."
Cote enjoyed not only the flexibility of the online program but also the structure of making tuition payments for courses — especially since she and her boyfriend, Josh, are homeowners.
"I liked the fact that it was one tuition rate and you could go from there," she said. "It was much better financially for people who work."
Another reason Cote chose UMPI was the time to completion. She finished the program in 18 months with the help of academic coach Amanda Baker, who quickly set her up for a new course each time she completed the previous one.
"Amanda was great about getting me into more classes and keeping me on track," Cote said. "She also understood my fast pace, and I love her Friday encouragement emails. It is crazy to think we were communicating over the computer and never actually met, but she made the process easier and more enjoyable for me."
The Finish Line
Even though the online bachelor's degree program at UMPI involved a lot of hard work, Cote kept her nose to the grindstone.
"I had a goal to complete my degree by the end of Summer semester," she said. "I did homework every day and got up early on weekends to complete my finals. It stinks to give up so much time when I wanted to be doing other things, but I knew it would be worth it."
Although Cote was not able to attend graduation, she is proud of her accomplishment and excited about the next chapter of her life.
"I have very supportive friends and family," she said. "I also thought it would be nice to follow my dad and brother by earning a business degree. They were pretty pumped that I went back and that business was my major."
Now that Cote has the business acumen to move forward with her plan, she believes UMPI prepared her well to face the challenges of becoming an entrepreneur and, more importantly, to do what she loves for a living.
"This is a great program as long as you have the motivation," she said. "It allowed me to get classes done on my time and fit within my budget. It is a great program for those who have busy lives but want to complete a degree program at an affordable price. It was perfect for what I needed."Learn more about the UMPI online BA in Business Administration with a Management and Leadership concentration.
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