Florriann Fehr

Make sure to pace yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get straight As. Be realistic with your goals and keep your eye on your long-term timeline. Pick a time in the program to take a break so you don’t burn out.


University of Phoenix


Master of Science in Nursing, University of Calgary (1996); Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of Victoria (1994)


PhD in Higher Education and Administration


Why did you decide to attend University of Phoenix to get your PhD in higher education and administration?

I decided to attend University of Phoenix for my PhD in higher education and administration because I needed to be able to advance in my career as a tenured professor. I have worked at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, Canada, for nearly 10 years. The new professors who are being hired all have PhDs in hand, and I need to keep up with my colleagues in order to maintain my seniority.

A big consideration for me when I was choosing what school to attend was being able to stay in my community. I have a family and a very good job, so it didn’t make sense for me to move somewhere in order to go back to school. Studying online was the most practical option for me.

I also looked into other schools besides University of Phoenix. One program I considered was at Deakin University in Australia. I know a few people who are working on their PhDs at Deakin, but it seems like their programs are taking quite a bit of time.

Ultimately, I chose to attend University of Phoenix because I needed to earn my degree relatively quickly and still earn it from a relatively reputable institution. The associate vice president of academics at the university where I teach earned his doctorate at University of Phoenix, which I found encouraging.

What are your school’s biggest strengths?

I think that 1 of University of Phoenix’s strengths is the accessibility of their online format. I don’t think of myself as the most technologically savvy person, but I haven’t had any problems figuring out how to use Phoenix’s system.

The major downside of attending University of Phoenix is other people’s perceptions about the school regarding its credibility and rigor. Right after I started studying at Phoenix, I attended an academic conference. I was talking with a researcher in my field, and as soon as I told her that I was attending Phoenix, she implied that I had made a bad decision. She didn’t seem to understand that I was actually having a great learning experience there.

Do you view University of Phoenix as a community?

Yes, I do view University of Phoenix as a community because I have been able to meet my cohort during 2 residencies as part of my program. One of my residencies occurred in my first year and was a chance to meet everyone in my program face to face. Since then, we have stayed in contact on Facebook. Even when some of the students have taken time off, we have kept in touch. This has created a definite sense of community in my program.

Does University of Phoenix have brick-and-mortar campuses?

Yes, University of Phoenix has brick-and-mortar campuses all over the United States. Students can attend in-person classes at University of Phoenix campuses and online students can also attend residencies at these locations.


How are you paying for college?

I am paying for my PhD in higher education and administration with a loan from my bank. One of the downsides to being a Canadian at an American university is that the Canadian government doesn’t recognize University of Phoenix’s 8-week terms as equivalent to the semester terms of Canadian universities. This means that I can’t submit my tuition fees for tax reduction and reimbursement purposes.

Because of this, my education at University of Phoenix is expensive, and I don’t qualify for student aid. And since I am an online student, I don’t have the option of serving as a teaching assistant like students do at brick-and-mortar schools. For the most part, Phoenix also doesn’t offer scholarships to students.

How helpful was your school in assisting your financial aid process?

Since I am a Canadian student, I don’t qualify for the financial aid programs that the United States offers to American citizens. University of Phoenix isn’t able to help me with my own financial aid process because of this.

Do you feel like your overall cost of education is more or less than the cost of a degree at a traditional institution?

I think that my PhD in higher education and administration at University of Phoenix costs more than it would for me to attend a traditional university for the same degree.

Admissions Requirements

Can you describe the admissions process from start to finish?

The admissions process at University of Phoenix was fast, and I was admitted and ready to attend classes about 1 month after I began the process. With my online application, I submitted my CV, or curriculum vitae, which is an academic resume listing my teaching experience and previous degrees. I also submitted transcripts from my masters and bachelors degree programs.

I wasn’t required to submit scores from the GRE exam, which I appreciated. The idea of taking this test caused me some anxiety since I had been out of school for more than 10 years.

What did you write about in your personal statement?

In my personal statement, I wrote about my life goals and what I wanted to do with my PhD. I also wrote about my reasons for applying to University of Phoenix and why I thought that the school would be a good fit for me. The point of the personal statement is to show that you are a strong student and that you are focused and committed, so I spent some time working on this part of the application.

Do you have any insight on how University of Phoenix weighs the different parts of an admissions application?

I think the admissions committee at University of Phoenix looks for students who can demonstrate in their applications that they are committed and know how to manage their time. PhD programs are intense, whether or not you are studying online, and it is very important to show in your personal statement that you can organize your tasks and make consistent and timely progress through your program.

During the admissions process, did you interact with an admissions advisor?

Yes, I interacted quite a few times with an admissions advisor when I was applying because I had a lot of questions. At the time, I was applying to other schools as well, and I didn’t want to make a decision to attend 1 school over another just because I had 1 good conversation with an advisor on the phone.

The admissions advisor at Phoenix was very helpful and went out of her way to accommodate my working schedule so that we could talk on the phone in the evenings once I was home from work. She also gave me honest and realistic information about what to expect at Phoenix. Since I have been enrolled, I have found her perspective to be right on the mark.

Classroom Experience

How is class material presented?

Class material is presented in different ways according to the class facilitator, but they generally follow similar guidelines. In the first year, classes are mostly prerequisites and last for 8 weeks. In the first 2 weeks of each class, we are assigned a lot of reading that included books and articles from peer-reviewed journals. When I first started in my PhD program for higher education and administration, we could access most of the reading assignments online and had the option of printing them out. Now, it seems like most of our reading assignments are only available to view online and I am not able to print them.

Once we read the assigned readings, we are required to post responses on the discussion board. The instructor responds to our postings, and we also respond to other students’ writing.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of this style of presentation?

The major benefit to the online class format is that I can access it 24 hours a day. I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, and I also work full time, so once I am home and the kids are in bed, I am finally able to do my homework. This usually happens around 8:00 p.m. I can work all night if I want, and I can access the online library whenever I need to.

Are you able to stay engaged in your online coursework?

Yes, I am able to stay engaged in my online coursework. This is partly because I have found the vast majority of the information in my coursework to be interesting and applicable. Though I have taught college classes for more than 10 years, I have never done administrative work, so this is a whole new world for me.

Do your professors encourage class participation?

Yes, instructors encourage class participation by requiring students to be online at least 3 days a week and twice on each day. That makes for at least 6 interactions with your instructor and other classmates each week.

What method of communication do you use to keep in touch with your professors?

Most of my communication with my instructors occurs in e-mails. I also had a instructor call me when I accidentally posted my discussion board response in the wrong place. She was concerned that I would miss my points if I didn’t post in the right area, and I appreciated her concern and assistance.

Can you rate the faculty on a scale of Excellent, Good, Average, Poor, Extremely Poor, in terms of:

Criteria Rating Reasons
Overall  Excellent My instructors have gone the extra mile to communicate with me and seem genuinely interested in my success as a student and professional.
Qualifications Excellent Instructors have degrees in their fields and are often also working professionals.
Knowledgeable Good Most instructors are very knowledgeable, but not all of them come across as experts in their fields.
Lectures 1) Content: Not applicable

2) Clarity: Not applicable

My classes in the PhD program in higher education and administration at University of Phoenix does not include lectures.
Assignments 1)Relevance: Good

2)Reasonable: Good

3)Clarity: Good

4)Assistance Provided: Good

5)Feedback Given: Good

Overall, assignments are applicable and relevant, but because I am in a PhD program, I am required to do a lot of work on my own. Sometimes, this means that assignments don’t seem as clear as they should, and not all instructors provide the best feedback and assistance.
Grading Average Grading seems fair on individual assignments. However, not everyone does their fair share on group assignments. All members of a group will receive the same grade even if only 1 or 2 group members do the majority of the work.
Responsiveness  Good Some instructors are more responsive than others.
Reliability  Good For the most part, my instructors have been reliable and professional.
Interest taken in class as a whole Excellent Instructors seem passionate and involved in their classes.
Interest taken in student as an individual Good Some instructors seem to copy and paste standard responses to multiple students, whereas other instructors go out of their way to give individualized feedback.

What resources does University of Phoenix provide to help you succeed in the classroom?

At University of Phoenix, I use the online library and the online plagiarism checker, which lets me check my papers for any quotes or sections that might count as plagiarism. Phoenix also has a writing center where you can get help on your papers and writing assignments, and they offer online workshops on various topics like statistics that guide you through how to use different statistical software programs.

When I was writing 1 of my papers, I had a librarian help me with some of my research, which really impressed me. I have also called the IT help desk when my computer wasn’t working and when I have encountered glitches in the online class system.

What advice would you give to students to help them succeed in an online classroom?

The biggest thing that will help you to succeed in an online classroom is time management. You have to be on the ball and you have to stay organized. If you work full time, you have to arrange a time of the day that you will set aside for your homework. If you don’t, you will quickly fall behind.

In addition, make sure to pace yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get straight As. Be realistic with your goals and keep your eye on your long-term timeline. Pick a time in the program to take a break so you don’t burn out.

You should also warn your loved ones that you will be incredibly busy. Often, they won’t really understand the challenges you face, but they will still need to be supportive.


Why did you choose to enroll in your higher education and administration program?

I chose to enroll in my PhD program for higher education and administration because I have taught college classes for 10 years. I want to advance in my career and earn a higher rank as a professor. I thought it would be smart to earn a PhD in administration because not only would I be gaining the extra degree that qualifies me for higher positions, I would be opening myself up to holding an administrative position at my university.

Does your program include a dissertation component?

Yes, my PhD program in higher education and administration at University of Phoenix includes a dissertation component. I have just finished the comprehensive exams that students are required to take before we are able to start writing our dissertations, and I am still completing my elective course requirements as well.

Once I begin my dissertation process, I will need to organize a committee which will include 1 faculty who will serve as my supervisor and mentor. I have also asked a professor at the university where I teach to serve on my committee, which will be great because I will be able to meet with her in person.

Are you given an advisor to assist you through the dissertation process?

Yes, I do have an advisor to help me with my dissertation process. I thought that she would be a good person to work with since she has similar interests and seems to understand where I am coming from.

Does your program have a residency requirement?

Yes, my PhD program in higher education and administration at University of Phoenix does have a residency requirement. I attended 1 residency during my first year and another in my third year. The first residency was mostly a chance to meet my classmates and form relationships with instructors.

The third-year residency lasted for 5 days, and I flew down to Phoenix, Arizona, to participate. I was also able to meet people who were enrolled in other programs.

What are your program’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?

I think the biggest strength to my PhD program in higher education and administration is the diversity of courses. In our courses, we are taught many angles from which to approach higher education, including academics, administration, leadership and the corporate side of the university. I had never considered all of those aspects when I taught as a college professor.

The biggest weakness is the cost of the program. It is far too expensive, and I don’t know how long it will take me to pay off the debt I have incurred to pursue my PhD. I decided to earn a PhD in part so that I could make more money, but even considering that I may receive a raise, it will be challenging to pay off my debt.

If you were to do it again, would you sign up for University of Phoenix’s PhD program in higher education and administration?

Yes, I would absolutely sign up for University of Phoenix’s PhD program in higher education and administration. Having a PhD will open many doors for me, including being able to conduct research and being a spokesperson and champion for important areas of education.


What general advice would you give to a student who is considering a PhD in higher education and administration at University of Phoenix?

If you are considering a PhD in higher education and administration, you should know that you will write a lot. You should be able to write critically and should know the difference between scholarly writing and the more casual writing you might have done as an undergraduate. Another important part of writing is being able to see the most important parts of an article and articulating that efficiently and clearly. You will likely graduate from this program as a much better writer than you were when you entered.