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Nick Sowards

Making the Most of Global Freshman Academy

Since 2015, Nick Sowards has taken every Global Freshman Academy (GFA) course available, and, at 32 while working full time in Ohio, he’ll soon have enough college credit to fulfill his freshman year requirements. GFA’s course offerings allowed Nick to discover new interests while earning college credit and building the confidence he needed to return to school to complete his undergraduate degree.
How did you discover GFA?
I went kayaking with a friend, who told me about edX during our trip. I did some research online and decided to give GFA a try.
What were your GFA courses like?
My most challenging and rewarding class was English Composition. I generally perform well on tests, but writing doesn’t come as easily to me. I really had to stretch myself to succeed in this class, but the effort I put into it and the improvements I’ve made in my writing skills made it all worth it. 
I also enjoyed Technological, Social, and Sustainable Systems. I didn’t know anything about the topics covered in this class beforehand, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about something I might not otherwise have been exposed to.
What did you like best about taking GFA courses?
I loved being able to take college-level classes with no formal enrollment process, strict schedule, or financial risk. For me, the hardest part was getting started, but after I completed my first class, I signed up for two more and continued from there.
Since the only requirement for enrolling in GFA courses is a reliable Internet connection, I was able to fit classwork more easily into my day, including during a trip to Iceland! 
What tips do you have for someone considering taking GFA courses?
Stay organized -- my Google Calendar is my best friend! It helps me balance my school work with my job and social life. 
What are your future plans?
I didn’t know I enjoyed social science until I took GFA’s Introduction to Sociology course. Now that I have the confidence to go back to school, I plan to major in either Psychology or Sociology through ASU Online.

Inspired by Nick's story? Learn more about Global Freshman Academy and how to kickstart your education goals.

“My first class went great so I signed up for one more and the pattern continued from there. I’m currently enrolled in two classes and by the end of this year I will have 28 credits and will have completed my freshman year.”

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