Choices, Decisions, and Consequences

Every choice in life we make has a consequence, either a good one or a not-so-good one. Some of those “not-so-good” ones come with the worst words to say when you look back on your life: “What If?

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I have made it my life’s mission to not have any regrets, or any What If’s in life, even though I haven’t always had good consequences of my actions. I have learned to take them in stride and use them for my future. An example of this has been my education. My choice to go to a private university in Kentucky for my undergrad had a not-so-good consequence of extreme student loan debt. My choice to move home to Illinois for grad school had a good consequence of saving money and having the support of my parents readily at hand.

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Until recently, I was considered a “traditional” student–I went to college immediately after high school, grad school immediately after that. But upon graduation with my Master’s, I had some choices to make. Do I want to continue on and get a PhD? Or do I want to start looking for a job? I chose to start working, because from the time I started Kindergarten until the day I finished my Master’s, I had been in school for 19.5 consecutive years, with only summers off (until grad school). That’s a long time to go through school, and my best friend went on to get her PhD immediately after her Master’s, so it’s amazing she hasn’t burned out yet. That’s the issue with a lot of “traditional” students these days.

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When I was little, I was obsessed with Law and Order: SVU and that show gave me the desire to be a lawyer and help people. Going through junior high and high school, I didn’t get the most stellar grades, but I was a solid A-/B+ student. In college, I started struggling a lot with my grades while working, taking an insane amount of credit hours, and being a music minor [which required a certain amount of practice hours per week], and it took me a year or so to learn time management skills, but by that point, the damage was pretty much done. However, better late than never on those skills (wait for it…). It was during my junior year of college when I realized I would never be able to get into law school. My grades were nowhere near good enough, and I’m such a horrible test taker, always have been, so I knew I couldn’t get a high enough score on the LSAT to make up for my GPA. So I had to start looking at other options.

Again, the choices I made gave me a fair amount of “not-so-good” consequences. Upon looking at my options with my major, I chose to pursue a career in Sport Psychology. In that field, I could still help people. I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Education with a specialty of Kinesiology, but I was told too late I needed a PhD. On top of that, I kind of felt like I had wasted a ton of money in student loans and I still wouldn’t be a lawyer.

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I moved to Arizona a month after getting married. We made 1 huge life choice, why not overwhelm ourselves by adding in more big decisions! We were here for about a year when I got the job with Brighton. I found, as I was going through the catalog, that they offer an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies! I could at least receive the training to kind of be a lawyer. But the downside of that? I went back to school (even though it’s online) at the age of 29. While we have students across all ages, a common theme is “I’ve been out of school for a while so I’m worried about getting back into the swing of things.” I know exactly how the students feel now, because wow, even though it’s only been a little less than 5 years since graduating with my Master’s, it’s hard to get back into the groove of studying and homework!

It’s nice that I can do it when I have time to, as opposed to having to work around a class time with a brick-and-mortar school that has set meeting times, exam dates, and less flexibility in general. What I’ve found amazing with being a non-traditional student is the knowledge I’ve gained over the years and the ability to apply it when I never thought I’d need to. Our students, like me, have {sometimes} multiple degrees that have given them a set of skills and knowledge, plus their real world experiences. In addition, our instructors are fantastic and understand that we are working individuals, with children/families and other responsibilities and sometimes we even like to sleep. So they’re flexible on submission dates and are more than happy to provide assistance as much as they can.

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While you can take online classes with us at your own pace, you are subject to a specific time frame. For instance, our Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies program has a maximum time frame of 3 years, even though if you went to a community college, you could finish it in 2. But then you have to take into account the fact that we are flexible, you don’t have to go to an actual class, you can do your homework and quizzes in yoga pants (which also happens to be how I dressed my entire senior year of college), and if something happens or you get sick or have to take a break, we offer a lot of options to help out. We help people send out resumes to get jobs. That’s not something a lot of colleges, especially online colleges, do on a regular basis.

So looking back on my life, have I made some decisions that didn’t always turn out so great for me? Absolutely. But those experiences made me the woman I am today, the hard worker I am today, and the student I am today. Without those decisions, I might never have found Brighton, and I might never have been able to get as close as possible to my dream without actually going to law school, all while helping people at the same time. While the road of life is bumpy and unpaved, the journey is worth the ride.

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Not All Testimonials Come From Students

Several members of our faculty are also considered “non-traditional students,” which is the vast majority of Brighton’s population, so it’s important to remember  This testimonial is from our Director of Student Services, Sean. Sean is a recent graduate from an online program, so his testimonial speaks to the life our students also live while being a full-time worker with families and responsibilities and how to fit school into that:
“What is a Non-Traditional Student? According to “Non-Traditional Student Populations Network,’ the non-traditional student is anyone who is not a first-time, full-time, straight out of high school, living in residence, college student. These students are outside of the general population of college students, they decided to take a path other than pursuing education and are now returning to colleges to gain the knowledge necessary to stay relevant in todays economy.
Brighton College focuses on this population of student with our current student population age being between 25 and 34 years old. As the Director of StudentServices, our department is focused on helping these adult learners obtain their education goals by understanding the needs of our student population. Therefore, as part of our continued commitment to help students continue in a path of success, we are creating a student resource page with national and some local organizations that can help students pay for the gas/water/electricity bill, transportation, food, prescription medications for free/reduced cost, and provide other social services, which could help prevent a student from putting their education goals on hold.
I have been in a situation which ended my school career, which then defined me as a “Non-Traditional Student”. I started college directly out of high school, I studied for two years at a local community college on campus with hopes of transferring into a four-year institution to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree. However, in the transition to a four-year college, my family was struck with devastating news and I put education on hold to focus attention on the important happenings in my life. Nearly three years later, still no school, nothing to show for, I was unable to apply for positions in which I could better my life due to not having a degree. As I watched my friends graduate when I should have, I had a sense of guilt and failure to myself and family. I was working a dead-end job with no marketability when I received a phone call to re-enroll and pursue my education, divine intervention, right?!
The transition from working a dead-end job to a student was difficult. Due to my work commitments, I needed to attend college online. During my first course, I was able to create a schedule to commit to my studies, after a grueling two years of putting my life on hold, I can happily say I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, not even that, but I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I did not do this alone, I had my wife support me through the whole process along with my friends and family that understood my studies came first.
The takeaway for our students and potential students, please know we are here to support you through your career with Brighton College, we are a mixed group of individuals with varying backgrounds that can relate to and understand the objections life brings our way. No matter the circumstance, our Student Services department is committed to you.”

Student Testimonials

When you type a school, restaurant, business, or store into Google, people typically look for 1 of 2 things: 1) the proximity to your location, and 2) how is it rated by other people who have gone there?

If you’re like me, I rarely write a review if I’m happy–unless there’s some sort of incentive, like 15% off my next visit or something like that. But man, I go on a keyboard rampage if I’m unsatisfied with my visit. And, especially if I’m home visiting family or friends, I let them know the problem so they don’t frequent the place(s) either.

As a society, we are more than happy to let others know when we’re mad…but it’s like pulling teeth to tell people good things about services. Well, Brighton College and The Paralegal Institute are changing that. We reached out to our students to ask them what they thought about us and I’ll be making posts about them over the next few months so you can rest assured we provide a quality education as well as the personal touch that other schools just don’t have.

“Kaitlin is amazing at her job! She has been such a big help and has answered all of my questions faster than I could have expected.” –R. Smith, LNC/NP Program

And, of course, I’m not biased since I’m Kaitlin. But I remember my college days and having to wait until office hours to ask questions, and it was likely that I forgot my question by then. For the most part, I’m incredibly accessible, which clearly pleases the students!

Have I piqued your interest yet? Ready to enroll? We’re ready for you!

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