Life change

Whether he was shaking hands and meeting people at a job fair, networking through local churches or businesses, preparing a print or radio advertisement, or these days sitting in his office speaking with a prospective student one-on-one, the message from Dr. Chris Conver has always been the same: Your time is now.

As assistant director of Campbellsville University’s Louisville Education Center, Conver knows well that the longer it takes for someone to start college, the less likely they are to finish — leaving better jobs, better salaries, and better livelihoods on the table. That’s why it’s long been Conver’s mission, since his days as a recruiter at Campbellsville University Louisville in the 2000s, to find those working adults who never took that step toward higher education, but always wish they did. And he tells them the same thing he told prospective students at job fairs long ago.

Take the step. Do it now. Or risk never doing it, and always regretting it.

“Because of variables that are outside of our control with the pandemic, there are some individuals who say, ‘I'm just going to wait until all of this stuff is over.’ And I would say, there will always be something going on. So, take this step, make the change,” Conver says. “If you sit out after high school, the statistics are against you. Less than a quarter of the people who sit out actually go on to complete their college education. If you think college is the way to go for you, please give college a shot — and give us a shot. Because we will work with you.”

Is your work schedule keeping you from pursuing a college degree? Demands on your time? Finances? Campbellsville University Louisville has answers for all of that because the school largely caters to working adults with children, job responsibilities, or both. There’s flexible scheduling, including a way to dip your toe in with just one class one day a week. There are financial aid options. And there are nearly 40 degree, certificate, or postgraduate programs to help you find the right career path.

Options for the working adult

The biggest roadblock of all, though, can be something unrelated to time or finances: it can be fear. There are working-age adults who tried college, had a miserable experience and quit, who perhaps weren’t prepared academically and struggled, or just found themselves in the wrong field of study. Conver and others on staff at the Louisville Education Center know that fear — many of them felt it as students themselves. And they know how to help prospective students get beyond it, to realize their academic dreams.

“When we see somebody who felt like they were a failure in school, we kind of guide them on a path and ask them some questions,” Conver says. “Were you a business major? ‘Yes.’ Do you like business? ‘No.’ Why were you a business major? ‘I don't know.’ What is it that you'd like to do? Perhaps there’s something administrative, something in psychology, something in criminal justice or social work that might stir that passion and interest. There are a variety of programs we offer here that might work for them, and we talk through it until their eyes light up and that cartoon light bulb appears, and they’re saying, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’ Then you guide them to financial aid to help make the finances work. I think it can be very satisfying. I know it has been for us.”

The method is tried and true at Campbellsville University Louisville, which had only 50 students and five academic programs when Conver joined the staff full-time in 2009. Since then, they’ve added a degree completion component and dozens of other program options: criminal justice, social work, psychology, sports management, and computer science, to name a few. And for working adults, they have scheduling options that begin with just one night class a week for eight weeks, which allows that returning student to get reacclimated to an academic environment without being thrust into classes every day of the week.

“You don’t have to quit your job or quit your daytime responsibilities, whether you’re taking care of kids or taking care of aging parents,” Conver says. “One class feels doable and allows you to find your rhythm. Now, we do offer classes that are on a different schedule, that might meet for 16 weeks. And they might meet during the day, depending on the program that you're in. But the model that we find that works a lot for working adults is one night a week, eight-week classes.”

Breaking down the barriers

Campbellsville-Louisville specializes in helping working adults overcome the barriers that might have arisen that prevent them from starting or completing their college education. Schedule issues? There are online classes, hybrid classes, one-day-a-week classes. Finances? Because Campbellsville University Louisville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it’s allowed to offer federally funded financial aid. There are scholarships for local students, scholarships for books, and scholarships for students in specific academic programs.

And fear? That’s something everyone at Campbellsville University Louisville understands. “A lot of times they don’t have good memories of their previous school experience, be it high school or college,” Conver says. “And that can make them anxious about the idea of change. Even if they’re in a rut, they might be hesitant to change.”

But for the dream of higher education — and all the benefits that go along with it to be realized, that change must happen. Campbellsville University Louisville helps make it easier, by looking at a prospective student’s ZIP code to see how many employment opportunities might be available for a specific field of study. And they build personal relationships with students, who aren’t numbers but real people: like the one who nearly missed the application deadline before the admissions staff intervened, squeezing him in at the last moment so he wouldn’t miss a semester.

“He finished up his courses and I wrote a reference letter to help him get into the school of education,” Conver says. “He just finished his degree, and he’s going to be a history teacher.”

His time is now. When will it be yours?

If you or a loved are interested in getting a second chance at higher education, contact Campbellsville University Louisville at (502) 753-0264, reach out at https://www.cu-louisville.com/, or visit the campus at 2300 Greene Way in Louisville.