Because of crazy life circumstances, I began working when I was 11 years old, saved every penny and planned my high school years strategically so that I would be positioned to graduate early. I graduated with honors at the age of 16, became an emancipated minor. In order to support myself, I continued to work fulltime. Knowing that much in life requires more than a high school diploma to make it, I attend classes at our local community college.
At the age of 19, I had earned my accounting degree, married, was expecting my first child, and lived happily ever after.
Ummm, yeah about that……I did earn my degree, get married, and was expecting my first child but the happily ever after part? notsomuch.
My marriage was miserable and I hated accounting.
I always planned on going back to school and pursuing a degree in a field that I felt a passion for. I had made every arrangement to go back after my baby was born; I was all set and excited about who I was to be come.
Fast forward a lot of years. That first baby was born with developmental disabilities…she was my joy and continues to be my light but her needs were great and my time, money, and resources were limited. I never did make that return to school.
Instead, I discovered my passion in advocacy. I began working in all faucets of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. Training, mentoring, bathing, grooming, cooking, cleaning, program coordinating….you name it, every venue from administration to direct care; I have done it all and loved every minute of it.
In the process, I had my second child, left my husband, and carried on. I got by with that little accounting degree and took every continuing education class that came my way. I was doing okay. I worked hard, was taking good care of my kids, and liking being single. I loved learning and relished the opportunity to gain new knowledge; the idea of returning to school fell further and further to the wayside.
When my grandmother died I sorta fell apart a little…..I remembered my promise to do better and to always make my dreams a priority. The flight home was long and the idea of returning to school weighed heavily on my heart.
That same day, I met this amazing man. He was everything I desired in a life partner…funny, compassionate, responsible, considerate, intelligent, articulate, charming and wasn’t too hard to look at :0)
One problem……he lived in Tennessee and I lived in Albuquerque.
We did the long distance thing for a few years. It was fun but eventually it became clear that if we were to pursue more one of us was going to have to move. It ended up being me.
I knew before moving that I would have to return to school in order to stay in my line of work. Unfortunately the state of TN does not recognize my eighteen plus years of service and requires only specifically degreed professionals be employed by federally subsidized provider agencies in my many roles of training, billing, supervision, service coordination, and behavior modification.
I’ve always had an interest in human behavior and why people respond the way they do. Having two disabled children at both ends of the spectrum has fueled that interest. When selecting a course of study, Psychology seemed a no-brainer.
After getting settled into my new apartment, my then boyfriend (now my husband) encouraged me to finally pursue my degree and passion. I visited the local brick and mortar campuses in my area but quickly realized that there was no way I could keep a traditional schedule…that and I had no desire to go to school with students that were half my age. I had no intention of being the old lady in class.
I come from an uneducated family, there are a few that have pursued higher education but for the most part, we’ve not been in the position to seek higher education…brick and mortar time restraints, financing, and to be honest, motivation made it less and less of a priority…hence the promise to my grandma that I would strive to be more.
With my vision and grandma in mind, I didn’t want my feelings about my ground campus visit to discourage me so I started investigating online schools. I was immediately drawn to the appeal of setting my own schedule, not having to drive to classes, not wasting gas, not having to sit through lectures, not missing notes if needed to walk out for a moment, no childcare expenses….the list goes on. However, I wasn’t completely sold but once I realized the benefits lower costs, transferring credits, and the flexibility I truly needed. I started looking for an online school that was suited to me.
There are literally hundreds of online schools and programs to choose from, you’d think that such availability would make it easier to find the right one….it’s not! You really have to be selective and make sure that ALL of your needs are met.
I’ve attended two online universities and can wholeheartedly tell you that they simply are not the same. The first school was a nightmare (and that is being kind), the class instruction was less than substandard, professors were unavailable, and the content elementary, the costs were ridiculous, above and beyond what my student loans would cover, I paid out of pocket every term. I hung in there because the admissions process was so horrible (I sent my tax returns to admissions 7 times!) that I dreaded going through it again. Once I made it through my associates degree I finally decided to brave a transfer, at which point I was threatened by my financial aid advisor that transferring would cost me several hundred dollars and that they would not release my degree until I paid it in full…lucky for me, she was just being full of herself.
This time I did a lot more homework before settling on a new university, it was important to me that I attend a university that was accredited by the same entities that regionally accredits top "brick and mortar" universities, is recognized nationwide, and has high academic standards, customer service, 24-hour support, and instructors that are available to me.…..the second time around I finally got it right.
The second was a little hard to navigate at the beginning but as I became familiar with the program I was much less difficult. The academic challenges were easier at the beginning and then increased as I advanced through my program. My instructors are highly qualified, available, and I’m finally getting my monies worth…at a much more affordable rate :0)
Since earning my associates in the summer of 2008, I have gone on to getting my Bachelor’s, my Master’s, and am now 5 classes and 3 residencies shy of being all dissertation… I'll be Dr. Lucy when it's all said and done.
The online venue is perfect for busy moms, working professionals, getting that “no degree” monkey off your back, and advancing your career. A word of warning though, online learning is not for the faint of heart, if you are looking for an "easy degree" you will be sadly disappointed. There is no spoon feeding or hand holding, just good old fashioned hard work….having attended both the ground campus and online, I can tell you that I work just as hard, if not harder at my online school than I did in the traditional classroom; I have also learned more, been more challenged, and earned every grade that I was given.
If you are considering going back to school, learn from my mistakes…..do your research!
I’m almost done but am looking at schools with my girlfriend, who is considering a business degree online so that she can continue pursuing her culinary interests offline.
One school that looks extremely promising is Ivy Bridge College (IBC)
I really like that they are so committed to Moms…with a student body of 50% being moms, they would have to be good at meeting our needs :0) They also offer mom friendly flexibility and convenience so that we can continue to work or while stay at home with our children. I really like the support services and online private community at IBC, it’s really cool because it is dedicated to mom students so that we can connect with other mom students….something that I would have truly liked to have had in my own venture.
Having helped my girlfriend put together a list of college criterion; I have to say that so far Ivy Bridge so far meets and exceeds what we came up with. Here are some of her highlights (and my two-cent commentary):
Weekly success coaching with career planning, resumé writing and interviewing skills
Free tutoring – this is one service that is a bit unique, I haven’t seen many online universities that offer tutoring, let alone tutoring that is free. I really could use a stats tutor, a free one would be even better!
Personalized academic advising and guided pathways to earning an accredited college degree
Ability to earn a college degree in as little as 17 months
Seamless credit transfers - Ivy Bridge College has clearly articulated transfer agreements with each of their partner schools to eliminate this headache. They have mapped out success paths so their students aren’t wasting time or money.
IBC costs less than 1/3 of what it costs to attend other private schools (as per the College Board)!
People who hold an associate’s degree on average earn 20% more and those with a bachelor’s earn 65% more than those with only a high school diploma.
So what are you waiting for?
Ivy Bridge even wants to give one of you a $1,000 discount to get you started!
To be eligible for IBC’s $1,000 discount off tuition, the qualifying individuals will need to be degree seeking, enrolled in IBC a minimum of part-time, and new to IBC (specifically, not someone who has already applied to, enrolled in, or requested information from IBC). Classes at Ivy Bridge College Extension are not eligible for the discount. Limit one per person. The tuition discount is valid through September 1, 2013.
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I participated in this campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Ivy Bridge College. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and a discount on classes at Ivy Bridge College, however all my opinions are my own. Please read my entire disclosure