Meet Melissa! This millennial mom and her husband have an adorable three-year-old daughter with a second baby on the way. Melissa works full-time in marketing and is currently finishing a bachelor’s degree through Pearson Accelerated Pathways. Whew – that’s a lot! We wanted to chat with this busy student and find out how she manages it all. Check out our interview with her.
What made you want to go back to school?
When I first graduated from high school, I knew I wanted some sort of college education. But like many millennials, I didn’t have the money or desire to spend four years at a traditional college and take on a bunch of student debt. So, I decided to attend a local technical school to develop skills in some of the areas that were really interesting to me, mainly photography and graphic arts.
Fast forward a decade, and I’m almost 30, working full-time and raising a toddler with another baby on the way. It’s kind of crazy that I chose now to add pursing a bachelor’s degree to my plate!
Part of my decision was that I’ve always loved learning. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of progression. My husband also started a master’s degree about a year ago, so I kind of felt inspired to keep up and expand my education. Mostly, I think we’re both inspired to be good role models for our kids. There’s also a sense of security and development in our career paths that we get from gaining more education.
What made you choose Accelerated Pathways?
For me, there were a couple advantages your program. The biggest one was flexibility. With Accelerated Pathways, I have flexibility in so many different ways. I don’t have scheduled class times. I don’t have to drive anywhere. I can even complete assignments on my own schedule.
With a three-year-old, a full-time job and a busy husband, it can be hard for me to know in advance what my study time availability will look like. I needed a program that I could blitz through courses if I had a free week or take a break if my personal schedule was really packed. Plus, I get the added bonus of not having to be on campus, potentially exposed to COVID. That’s extra important to me during my current pregnancy.
Probably the most difficult part of returning to college was getting the courage to start. There were so many options and factors to navigate. The Accelerated Pathways team made this process really easy by doing the college research for me.
How was your experience choosing a degree program?
So smooth and flexible! In my first conversation with my academic counselor, she asked about what I was interested in studying, what long-term goals I had and what prior college credit I had earned. She did a ton of research and found five different colleges that offered degrees similar to what I wanted to study. She also figured out which colleges would take my past college credit and determined the final cost for each option, even factoring in the tuition assistance benefits I get from my job.
All I had to do was send a screenshot of my unofficial associate degree transcript and she handled the rest. After reviewing my options, I picked the college and degree program that allowed me to graduate the fastest. The Accelerated Pathways team was able to transfer all the credit from my associate degree to that program, so I started my bachelor’s degree as a junior. There’s no way I would have been able to figure all that out myself.
We’re so glad to hear! How are your courses going?
Taking courses is super simple and straightforward – I just login to the Degree Manager and pick up where I left off. There are no semesters or due dates, so I really can work at my own pace. I do one course at a time on my schedule. I just finished American History ahead of schedule and will be diving right into Biology next. All courses have been high quality, and I’m learning a lot. It’s a great feeling!
I also meet with my academic coach regularly. He’s given me great tips on what the focus of each course is and how I should balance study time on the various course resources. Best of all – he’s helped to keep me accountable to my goals. I’m actually ahead of my initially planned graduation date since I had some extra time over the holiday break to knock out additional courses.
Any post-graduation plans? What’s next for you?
Having such a great experience returning to college has definitely made me want to be a lifelong learning. Even with my second child on the way, I’m hopeful about completing my degree on time and possibly starting on a master’s degree in the future.
One of my long-term goals has always been to be a librarian. I know “official” librarians usually need a master’s degree in library sciences, so earning my bachelor’s was a first step for me toward this dream.
In the short-term, I’ll have more opportunities and be able to take on even greater roles with better salaries once I return to work from maternity leave. There’s more of a sense of security and value I feel in returning to the workplace with additional knowledge and higher educational credentials.
Any advice you’d give to new Accelerated Pathways’ students?
My motto is: just stay consistent. After I got into the swing of my first course, I realized I could complete a module in a few hours. So, I set aside a couple nights a week to just ignore chores. As soon as my daughter goes to bed, I put on some good study music and do schoolwork for a couple hours.
By staying consistent—even with only a few hours a week—I was able to complete my first six Accelerated Pathways courses, which is 18 college credits, in just six months!