Merralee Lameo

DeVry University

Bachelor of Science in Business

2013 Completion

Merralee Lameo is studying to earn her Bachelor of Science in Business online at DeVry University. She is in her second year and expects to graduate in 2013. Currently, Merralee is self-employed as a pet groomer.

As a single mother of a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, Merralee decided to attend college from home so that she can take care of her children while continuing to work for herself. She is pursuing a degree in business to gain skills and knowledge that will help her to run a business more efficiently.

What are the biggest benefits of attending college at home?

The biggest benefit of attending college while I live at home is that I can work online classes around my schedule. Being a mother is already a full-time job, and on top of my family obligations, I have my work commitments. Because I am spread so thin, I appreciate the sort of flexibility that my college classes offer me.


What are the drawbacks to attending college at home?

I cannot think of any drawbacks to the educational path that I have chosen. My experience with taking college classes at home has been overwhelmingly positive. I am grateful to have this option that working parents did not have a generation ago.

Even though I am happy with my decision to study from home through DeVry University, I do wish that there were more resources available to prospective online students to compare the qualities of different online schools. It was hard to find out which school would be best for me since I could not easily see how much tuition each school charged.


How much do you think you save by living at home?

I would estimate that I save about $400 each month by living at home as opposed to in a dorm like a traditional college student. Although that does not seem like a huge sum, it translates to nearly $5,000 each year. Over the course of a 4-year bachelors degree program, that is a significant savings. And if there is anything that every parent knows, it is that it costs money to raise kids, so it is important to take advantage of any area in which you can save money.


How many hours do you spend on coursework each week?

I typically spend about 6 hours each week doing various kinds of homework. Each week we are required to complete assigned reading from our online textbooks to prepare for a weekly quiz. In order to facilitate class discussion, we also need to post our thoughts about the reading material and respond to several discussion threads posted by other students. Each class requires us to post on the discussion board at least 3 times per week. Depending on what else is filling my schedule at a given time, I take 2 to 4 classes each semester. That means the exact amount of time that I spend on coursework each week can vary.


Do you think attending college at home affects your learning in any way?

I am not sure if learning from home affects my ability to learn. This is my first degree so I do not have another college experience to use for comparison. I could see how some people might be wary of having to conduct all of their learning independently, because it would be helpful to have a teacher easily accessible to ask questions. But I learn well from books, so I do not feel like attending college at home has a negative effect on my learning.


Do you feel like attending college at home affects your ability to make friends?

Yes, attending college at home has made it difficult for me to make friends. If I was younger, I think that would bother me. But since I am a non-traditional student, making friends is not a priority for me. I am going to school in order to learn how to run my business more efficiently, not to find new social outlets.


Do ever feel isolated from campus life?

Yes, I do feel isolated from the campus lifestyle occasionally, but that feeling does not bother me. I do not have time to be on campus going to sporting events and participating in the kinds of activities that a typical college student enjoys. As a mother, a traditional campus life is not an option for me, so I do not dwell on the aspects of the college experience that I am missing.


Is attending college at home what you had imagined it to be?

Yes, the experience of going to school while living at home has entirely met my expectations. Before I started the program, I had envisioned having a flexible class schedule that allowed me to study when I had the time available. I am happy to say that going to school online lets me earn my degree in my own way.


How do you think your life would be different if you attended college away from home?

Going to a school away from home would cost me sleep and money. When I think about attending a traditional school, the first difference that comes to mind is that I would have to stay up much later to fulfill all of my obligations. I would have to attend night classes so that I could continue to work during the day, which would mean that I would have to get a babysitter to watch my children. A sitter would cost money too, which is always a consideration for a single parent.


What are the biggest challenges you face in attending college at home?

I find that the biggest challenge I have is managing my time. Going to school at home requires a lot of self-discipline because I cannot let myself fall behind for even a single day. To meet all of my deadlines, I have to set a strict schedule and that is difficult when I have to split my time between school, work and family.

To fulfill all of those obligations, I have to follow a routine. I take my children to daycare in the morning. While they are being cared for, I attend to my pet grooming business. I pick them up from school in the afternoon and make sure that they are fed and bathed before they go to bed around 8:30 p.m. When they are asleep, I finally get to work on my classes.


If you started college over again, would you choose to live at home while attending college?

Yes, I would make the decision to study online from home again. Online classes are the only way that I can continue to provide for my family while getting my education because we need the income that I earn through my business. Everything that I do is for the benefit of my children, and I know that earning my bachelors degree will help me to run my business more efficiently so I can make more money.


What advice would you give other students who are trying to decide if attending college at home is right for them?

I would emphasize to people who are thinking about earning a college degree from home that they will need to be extremely self-disciplined in order to succeed, especially if they are working their way through school. After a long day, they will want to relax and put off their homework until the next day. But they will have to develop a strong work ethic and do their work according to schedule.