In years past, people who wanted to further their educations by attending college classes needed to do so in person, on a college campus. However, this increasingly internet-based society has provided more and more opportunities for individuals to attend classes online at their own paces while continuing their personal lives almost uninterrupted. Even celebrities, professional athletes, and high-powered executives are choosing to take online classes to complete their degrees.
Here are four well-known graduates of online college programs who have either continued their impressive careers or who have capitalized on their online educations by taking executive positions.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
Most known for his stature at over 7 feet tall, O’Neal left Louisiana State University before graduation in order to play in the NBA. Years later he was able to fulfill a promise to his mother to complete his undergraduate degree, but that was not enough education for him. He enrolled and completed an MBA completely online at the University of Phoenix while he was still playing professional basketball. O’Neal claims he wanted the degree as a safety net for when his NBA career would be over and he would need to work a regular job. This online degree afforded him an opportunity to continue his educational path and eventually receive his doctorate as well.
2. Didiayer Snyder
An interior designer, carpenter, and television personality, Snyder can be seen tidying up the homes of hoarders on “Clean House” and “Messiest Home in the Country.” She has also been featured frequently on the “Nate Berkus Show” while working since the fifth season on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Although she attended a traditional educational program at Christian Outreach College in Australia, Snyder furthered her studies at the online Ashworth College in Georgia. Through Ashworth she completed the degrees in carpentry and interior decorating that would assist her in the home makeovers of her various television shows.
3. Lisa Leslie
Despite being one of the all-time best female basketball players in the United States, Leslie was not content with the bachelor’s degree in communications that she earned over four years of playing at the University of Southern California. Late in her career, while still playing in the WNBA and training for the Olympics in Beijing, Leslie began attending MBA classes through the University of Phoenix. She was able to complete her studies shortly after her retirement in 2009, having studied while playing professionally, getting married, and having her first child.
4. Sharon T. Freeman
Perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Freeman leads the country in funding for global development. She received her Ph.D. in Management and Applied Sciences through Walden University online, allowing her to continue her work in foreign aid supporting efforts to expand democracy overseas. She has written a book about being a female African-American leader and working with the high-powered Booz Allen company on a contract with the United States Agency for International Development.
Honorable Mention: Nelson Mandela
Although he did not technically graduate from an online education program because the internet was not really a possibility at the time he was studying, Mandela completed almost all of his studies through distance learning programs that were the precursors to online degrees. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa, which has largely become an online university in later years. While he was in prison, Mandela worked toward his Bachelor of Laws through the University of London External Programme, which is also frequently used online today.
Robert Perkins is a school administrator and guest author at SuperScholar.org, a site with guides and information on top-rated online degree programs.