As summer draws to an end, fall brings the excitement of a new school year for many. While the start of this academic year may look different than most, this time still signals the start of a new season full of opportunities. Many students are embarking on the next level in their education, each day drawing closer to completing their degree. Some are starting for the first time. And some may be feeling nostalgic or considering next steps in their career and wondering if it’s time to go back and finish a degree started long ago.
Working adults considering their next steps in education aren’t alone. Statistically, nearly a third of all students who begin college right out of high school will drop out. There are countless reasons why college students may put their education on hold. The goal for Deborah Thomas is to encourage them to come back and finish what they started.
Thomas, the assistant director of the Louisville Education Center, a branch of Campbellsville University, works with adult learners returning to college, sometimes decades following their first entry into college. The secret to their success the second time around? Thomas says, “I believe that if you surround yourself with those who have done it, and you put yourself in a place where you can get it done, then the odds for you to complete your education become greater.”
That aspiration doesn’t only apply to those who started college and stopped. It also brings hope to those who never started college at all. It can be motivation for those whose chosen career field has become less essential due to the changing conditions in the job market. And it can serve as an incentive to not put education on hold in the first place, and to persevere through whatever complication leads a student to considering giving up.
Students are never on their own
Thomas speaks from experience. A former insurance and real estate agent, she saw her career ravaged by an economic downturn. At 55, knowing she needed further education to make a career shift, she discovered Campbellsville University in Louisville — and the affordable tuition and worker-friendly classes that go along with it.
“We are looking at those who started and then had to go to work so that they could earn, but then they discover 10, 15 or 20 years later that the position they're in now is not going to take them where they need to go,” Thomas says. “So they pause and say, ‘Let me complete what I started.’ Then you've got the other side, and people who didn’t go to college at all, but they know that this is what they have to do in order to remain relevant. In order to stand against all these applicants, they're going to have to do something to be a cut above. And so I think education betters them.”
But whether a returning student or someone moving into college straight from high school, life events do not stop. There will undoubtedly be those trying times that might coax a student into thinking about quitting — as Thomas knows firsthand, because she went through them herself. She lost two family members while she was pursing her degree at Campbellsville University in Louisville. The best way to honor them, she decided, was to continue on.
“Going through the door, we let students know right off the bat that life is going to continue to happen,” Thomas says. “We let them know life is not on pause because you’ve decided that you are doing something that's going to help you and your family, and that is getting an education. But we want to encourage you to press through, so we provide tools you need. And THAT’S the key. We need to make sure that we’re keeping in constant contact with our students, so they can show that they're OK, that they're not having issues that would hinder them from moving forward. We don't just throw them out there and say, ‘OK, you’re on your own.’ We make sure we have an open-door policy, and that they can come to us if they need anything.”
Affordability, flexibility and safety
That type of support is a hallmark of a university that caters to returning students, as is the flexibility that Campbellsville University in Louisville offers. Campbellsville University in Louisville rarely increases tuition, Thomas says, keeping costs affordable for those also juggling adult responsibilities. As a matter of fact, Campbellsville has not raised tuition in over three years while other universities have nearly doubled their cost in that same timeframe. Most certification courses and other pursuits are in the evening between 6 and 10, so they won’t interfere with the workday.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Campbellsville University in Louisville is taking steps to have classes taught remotely instead of face-to-face interactions because the safety of both students and teachers is paramount.
Interested in learning more about the educational opportunities available at Campbellsville University in Louisville? Call (502) 753-0264, peruse the nearly two dozen academic programs available, or visit their website for further information.