Berklee Valencia Welcomes First Berklee Online Students on Campus

Berklee Online and Berklee Study Abroad student Savannah Philyaw performed at the Berklee Showcase VI held in Valencia on January, 2017. Photo by Tato Baeza.

Johnny O’Hagan and Savannah Philyaw are the first two students enrolled in the Berklee Online program who came to Berklee's campus in Valencia through Berklee Study Abroad for the spring semester of 2017. Combining online and on-campus study allows students to maximize the flexibility and affordability of their education without compromising academic rigor and quality. On campus, students are able to take advantage of experiential learning opportunities, such as meeting and learning from visiting artists, networking in person with other undergraduate and graduate students, and benefiting from world-class facilities, studios, and technical labs.

“The flexibility of the [Berklee Online] program allows students to complete their education anywhere, anytime. One major advantage of studying online is the ability for students to incorporate learning into their schedules without compromising professional and personal commitment,” said Carin Nuernberg, vice president of online education. She added that students are aware of the opportunity of spending a semester in Valencia through newsletters, email outreach, and interaction with their academic advisors. “In the fall, we are publishing a comprehensive guide to the program on our website, including information about eligibility, tuition, academics, and, of course, the advantages of studying in Spain.”

Pilar Vicente, director of enrollment on the Valencia campus, added that “through communication and other materials, we make sure that the students know that this opportunity is available for them, and we help them through the process of applying and advising about the subjects or other questions they might have.”

Vocalist Johnny O’Hagan found out about the Berklee Online program while touring with his band, Idlehands. “Since I live a lifestyle that doesn’t allow me to move to Boston, the program seemed like the right fit,” he said. He learned about the opportunity he had to move to Valencia through Berklee’s website, and this option appealed to him as he was searching for a new setting in which he could progress away from the distractions of home. “I saw the photos of the studios and figured out that I would have lots of access while still earning credits towards my degree,” O’Hagan said.

He took advantage of the option that Berklee’s Valencia campus offers to Berklee and Berklee Online students to work towards Berklee’s minor in music technology in Spain. “Thanks to this, Johnny acquired the tools he needed to leverage technology to create and distribute his music,” said Vicente.

The Best of Both Worlds

For O’Hagan, it was a “life-changing experience” to be able to spend 60 hours a week on music. “On top of that, I had some incredible teachers like John Broaddus and Patrick Soria, who took extra time to teach me and answer any questions I ever had,” he said. For students, the access to all the rooms, hardware, microphones, instruments, software, and other resources made the trip to Valencia an investment. “All of that studio time and equipment would have cost me much more than the tuition and expenses did if I were to attempt to do the same at home,” said O’Hagan. Studying on campus allowed him to take classes he wasn’t able to take online and stay productive as he had to adhere to the campus timetable and schedule.

Johnny O'Hagan spent the Spring '17 semester in Valencia

This dual format gives students the chance to benefit from the best of both worlds: the online format allows them to continue working and adapt the curriculum to their professional and personal needs, while the experience on campus grants them access to state-of-the-art recording studios, technology labs, and classrooms in an intimate academic setting. It also connects them with the International Career Center, where they can explore their future career steps. “Students have the opportunity of enlarging their network as they will count on the online student network, and [on] the Valencia one that includes not only undergraduate but also graduate students,” said Vicente.

“The possibility of studying a semester in Valencia has already generated a small number of enrollments, and we expect it to grow over time,” added Nuernberg. Vicente also expects the numbers to grow as the latest trends in education give priority to flexible pathways and student-driven personalized learning. “Berklee, as a leading innovative educational institution, allows Berklee Online students to personalize their curriculum, taking part in a face-to-face opportunity through the Berklee Study Abroad program,” she said.

For O’Hagan, who is pursuing a songwriting major and expecting to graduate in spring 2018, his time in Valencia has already translated into life-changing career opportunities. “After being home for only two weeks, I got hired at Lost Ark Studios in San Diego, California, assisting an incredible engineer named Mike Butler who forged a name for himself as a longtime engineer at Record Plant in Los Angeles. I know I wouldn’t have this opportunity without my time spent at Berklee Valencia,” he said.

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