Love What You Do & Earn a Bachelor's Degree Faster: A StraighterLine Success Story

Love What You Do & Earn a Bachelor's Degree Faster: A StraighterLine Success Story
Beth Dumbauld

Deirdre Henderson is very clear about her educational and career goals. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When she first started working at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide seven years ago as an executive assistant, she was just glad to have a job and an employer that she liked. Also, she enjoyed working in the hotel industry.

Then she discovered accounting - and in that field, she found her calling. In fact, she loves it: “The accounting department was located next to the office where HR was located. Over time, I became interested in what they were doing for the company, and eventually took a position in accounts payable. As soon as I started working in the accounting department, I decided this is it. This is what I want to do and I didn’t stop.”

After two years working in accounting, Deirdre decided it was time to go to school and earn her degree. She wanted to advance in her career and knew that earning her bachelor’s was a necessary step towards achieving her ultimate goal of becoming a regional accounting director at the company.

That was three years ago. This May, she will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree!

Earning an Accounting Degree at Strayer University

When Deirdre first decided to go back to school, she knew she wanted to earn her degree as quickly and affordably as possible. “I chose Strayer because I had a good friend who had earned her master’s degree there and had really great things to say about her experience,” said Deirdre. “Also,” she added, “I liked that you could take courses online or on campus. I work and have two children and needed flexible class options. Plus, if you have any questions, [Strayer] is really responsive.”

While in school, Deirdre was able to use what she was learning in class and apply it to her job. As a result, Deirdre was able to move up through the ranks and is now Assistant Director of Accounting at the company.

Completing a Bachelor’s in 3 Years

“I’ve always been highly motivated to complete my degree early,” said Deirdre. “I’m extremely organized with my schedule so I do something for my classes every day. For example, on Mondays I complete my discussion questions. On Tuesdays, I organize all my notes. On Saturdays, I wake up early, drink coffee, and do homework all day until it’s done. I give myself a 4PM deadline, but if it’s not complete, I extend it. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s worth it.

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To stay motivated, when Deirdre first started her degree program at StraighterLine partner college, Strayer University, she printed out all the courses required for her major. When she completes a course, she crosses it off her list. As she was able to cross more and more courses off, she was motivated to find a way to complete even more courses more quickly. That’s when she found StraighterLine.

Using Online Courses to Accelerate

Deirdre first heard about StraighterLine from her student advisor at Strayer. “I had reached out to my advisor about how to earn credit and complete courses more quickly,” said Deirdre. “She sent me some information about alternative credit options like CLEP and DSST, as well as StraighterLine. StraighterLine really stood out!”

With StraighterLine, Deirdre immediately recognized that she found the alternative credit option she was looking for. In her words, “I knew I didn’t want to use test-for-credit options like CLEP. I wanted a real course with real structure; I didn’t want to guess what was going to be tested on some exam; I didn’t want to have to guess which books to buy. But I did want a low-cost option that would allow me to move as quickly as I wanted through course material. I found what I needed with StraighterLine.”

With the support of her advisor and by using StraighterLine’s course articulation agreement with Strayer, Deirdre knew exactly which courses would transfer into her degree program. “At first, I was just looking to complete two of my general education requirements through StraighterLine,” she said. “But then by looking through the articulation agreement, I realized that I could complete even more!”

Benefits of StraighterLine

In discovering StraighterLine, Deirdre was happy to find the perfect way to accelerate her degree at Strayer. “I liked how the StraighterLine courses were set up,” she said. “You could go chapter by chapter and take a little quiz at each stage -- and see real-time how you are doing in the course. It made the whole process a little less scary. You even have tutors if you need help!”

With StraighterLine, Deirdre was able to complete and transfer four courses into her degree program at Strayer, including Introduction to Criminal Justice, Introduction to Nutrition, Personal Finance, and Student Success. When she completed her StraighterLine courses, she went back to her degree course requirements list and was able to cross off her remaining 4 general education requirements. “I almost cried,” said Deirdre, “To be so close to earning my degree… it’s such a big deal!”

Advice to Other Students

Deirdre is only the second person in her family to earn a college degree. “The first person in my family to earn a degree was my mother, who earned her business degree at University of Phoenix at the age of 55,” said Dierdre. She added, “My mom inspired me to go back to school. If she can do it, I knew I could do it. So can you.”

According to Deirdre, “It may be a cliché, but you have to manage time well when you go back to school. Set a schedule and do a little bit each day.”

Deirdre plans on graduating from Strayer University with her Bachelor of Science in Accounting in May 2016. Thanks to StraighterLine, Deirdre got on track to earn her college degree in three years. Congratulations Deirdre!

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