Earning a College Degree in Less Time as a Working Mom: A StraighterLine Success Story

Beth Dumbauld

Nena LaScala is a mom with over twenty years experience working full-time for a healthcare organization in southern California. Over the years, she’s been promoted from frontline staff, to supervisor, and to her current position as Director, Lean Six Sigma Development. Despite her career success, and having earned some college credits from a local junior college years ago, Nena did not have a college degree. She wanted to change that. So, in 2016, Nena decided it was time to go back to college and commit to degree completion.

“Though I know I’m capable professionally, for me to be marketable now and in the future, I felt I would benefit from having a bachelor’s degree for job security reasons,” said Nena. Once she made the decision to go back to school, Nena put herself on a strict time frame to not only earn a bachelor’s degree in business, but to also earn an MBA. “I work over 40 hours a week. I have kids -- the big question for me was how many classes could I afford to take at a time, and do reasonably well, within an accelerated completion time frame,” said Nena. “Grade-wise, my target was not to get lower than a B in any of my classes, but as an adult learner, my real goal was to truly understand the material -- because otherwise what’s the point?”

Taking Online Courses Concurrently with a Bachelor’s Degree Program

When Nena made the decision to go back to school, she chose to earn her degree through the University of La Verne’s accelerated degree program. Upon enrolling in the school, she sat down with an enrollment counselor to learn more about transferring existing credits and credit transfer opportunities. “I barely had enough existing credits from my time at a junior college to be admitted into La Verne’s accelerated degree program,” said Nena. “I was grateful I was admitted, but I had a lot of holes in my degree plan. Fortunately my counselor -- knowing that I wanted to move as quickly as possible through my degree program -- provided me with some flexible options so I could fill in course gaps while also taking classes at the university. For example, I needed to complete some foundational courses like college algebra, bio science, a couple of humanities, and some electives. She let me know which courses I could take at the school and she let me know that I could take courses for credit at StraighterLine.”

“After speaking with my counselor, I went home and looked at StraighterLine’s website. I compared StraighterLine courses to my other options, but I just really liked how StraighterLine was so upfront about the courses, from the syllabus, the proctoring, to the overall pricing. So, I called my counselor at La Verne, and with my degree plan in hand, we discussed which StraighterLine courses I could use for my required foundational courses and which ones I could take for my electives.”

After speaking with her counselor, Nena enrolled and started taking StraighterLine classes for her degree while she was concurrently taking classes at University of La Verne

Enrolling in College Courses Concurrently at StraighterLine

Nena liked what she experienced at StraighterLine and was particularly pleased about the ease of credit transfer and the opportunity to complete courses at her own pace. “The semester system is a big barrier to adults who need to get their degree in a timely manner. We’re living in a fast paced world; I have life experience,” said Nena. “If I can get a course done more quickly, sign me up, it was extremely important that I could complete classes on my own time frame.”

Over the course of a couple years, Nena ended up enrolling -- and completing -- 14 courses at StraighterLine for her University of La Verne degree. The first course she took at StraighterLine, was Personal Fitness & Wellness which she followed up with several humanities classes, such as Intro to Religion, Intro to Philosophy, and Cultural Anthropology (a favorite), several math courses like College Algebra, and several business courses like Intro to Accounting.

“I truly wouldn’t have gone back to college if I couldn’t take courses online and at my pace,” said Nena, “I have to fit school between work and family. For me, that means fitting it in between 5-6 in the morning, and after 9 pm when everyone is asleep. It might sound difficult, but it is trade off I’m willing to make because, with StraighterLine, I can actually fit college into in my life. By being able to work at my own pace, I am able to save both time and money.”

Advice to Adults Thinking About Going Back to School Online

“I would encourage any adult learner to consider an online program, but you need to make sure that you give yourself a real time frame and specific goals for degree completion, because if you don’t, it might become tempting to procrastinate. And if you procrastinate, it will take a lot longer,” says Nena. “Time management is key when taking self-paced courses, really it’s key for taking any college course, but it becomes even more critical with a self-paced course. Develop your time management skills and you will be successful.”

Nena will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in business from the University of La Verne this summer of 2018 (with Honors) and plans on starting her MBA program at the Louisiana State University Shreveport this fall 2018. Thanks to StraighterLine, she has been able to fit college into her busy life and accelerate the completion of her degree. Congratulations Nena!

Want to try an online college class? Take two free lessons today with our StraighterLine Free Trial!




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