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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Don’t Just Take Our Word For It…

Listen to what our Curriculum Manager & Adjunct Instructor, Amanda MacDonald, has to say:

“Although, I was what you would call a “traditional” undergraduate student (i.e I went to college right after graduating high school, I went to school full time, I lived on campus, etc.), I am also a first generation college student. I was fortunate enough to be able to pay for college with scholarships and grants but I did end up needing to work part-time for most of my college career. In fact, I enjoyed juggling working and going to school so much that I immediately pursued my master’s degree as soon as I finished my bachelor’s degree! (Ha ha!) I really enjoyed the different professors and students I met and interacted with in my different classes. From the professor who praised my writing skills and encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree to the mentor who helped me connect to an internship that launched my career in curriculum, I had a lot of positive influences while in college. The human mind has always fascinated me so I really enjoyed hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions, as well as learning from their life experiences and sharing my own. Being open to lifelong learning is one of the best lessons I received during my college education. My experiences in college helped me embark on a path in which I am able to think more creatively, develop a more open mind to people and ideas, be willing to try new things, and share my own ideas with others. I treasure these experiences I have had and I hope you are able to experience precious, life-altering moments while pursuing your academic goals, too!”

See? It’s just not me. Now it’s time to see for yourself.

Job Security

21 years ago, a movie came out that was beyond the Science Fiction genre–Starship Troopers. This was a movie that had 30-year-olds portraying high school kids in a futuristic battle for the galaxy against creepy arachnids. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a spider person, but these things weren’t even close to spiders. I don’t even know how to describe them, but creepy is always appropriate.

What does this have to do with Brighton College? Hang on, I promise I’m getting there.

Earlier this week, President Trump signed a new branch of our military into existence: The Space Force. It seemed like it was a joke, or maybe a “light” moment to take away from the really heavy and tragic news as of late. However, he was incredibly serious, saying we need a branch that will help NASA keep Earth safe from asteroids and meteors and whatnot. Still pretty far-fetched and ridiculous, but okay. Ready for the point? Here it is:

Imagine being a military spouse who’s husband or wife gets assigned to the Space Force. Can you imagine the BAH?! Regardless of if your spouse gets stationed on the moon or across the country, one thing is for sure: it’s important for working spouses to be in a job that is transferrable. With Brighton College, it’s easy to get certified in a job that holds a lot of security: pharmacy technicians, medical coding and billing, paralegals, IT…the list goes on. Brighton offers so many opportunities that give job security that you wouldn’t have a bad choice here. Plus, if the U.S. Military is all of a sudden populating space with our troops, they’re going to need a few things: a pharmacy, some doctors/surgeons, places to eat, hotels…I mean, imagine how cool it would be to say “I was the FIRST pharmacy tech on the moon!”

We have 2 enrollment days each month. Our courses are affordable and more comprehensive than the shorter programs out there in the same field. And, depending on what program you choose (remember, you can’t go wrong with Brighton), we offer things like complimentary memberships to externship opportunities. In addition, you get a success coach to help you every step of the way. Now the only question is:

What are you waiting for?

Why Is Getting Your Degree Important?

Think about it. For as long as I can remember, I was told that the only way to get ahead in life is to go to college. I wanted to be a lawyer, so I knew college and law school were in my future anyway (turns out, Legally Blonde was wrong and you can’t get into law school based on looks). But, as time goes on, I’ve noticed that everyone has been told the same thing, so everyone had gone to college. So, to set myself apart, I went to grad school and got my master’s degree in education.

But now, everyone has a master’s degree! It’s insane looking for jobs and seeing “bachelor’s degree required,  master’s degree preferred.” When I graduated high school in 2007, only over achievers went past their bachelor’s. But as time has gone on, since everyone my age and younger have been told to go to college, it’s no longer a way to set yourself apart unless you go get a PhD–because really, even a master’s doesn’t do it anymore. So how do you set yourself apart?

By having skills that your competition doesn’t have. That’s where Brighton comes in. With all of our certificate programs, and even a couple of Associate Degree programs, we offer training to help you get the job. With our programs, as well, we offer a system called GradCast. It’s a program in itself that helps us get your resume ready and make sure it’s current and ready to be sent. Then, we send it out for you to up to 100 employers in your field in your geographical area–typically about a 20 mile radius. And, if you’re a pharmacy tech student, we also offer help for externships through CVS to help get your foot in the door. Do other schools do that? (Hint–nope).

When you’re going in for that accounting job, or that paralegal job, seeing that you have the formal training as well as certification through an accredited school, you have more skills than your competition if they just have formal training. It shows you went above and beyond to sharpen your skills, and employers love self starters!

Another thing we hear a lot, which makes some students hesitate, is “I’m too old for this, I don’t even know how to look for jobs now, no one will hire someone as old as me.” While it’s true that the student might have been out of the game for a while, mostly because they found a place they’re comfortable in and happy with, Brighton offers a ton of resources, not just GradCast. Kait, our Student Services Coordinator, recently ordered a book specifically for this concern. The book is called “Job Hunting After 50,” and it holds a lot of resources and help to get prepped. It offers practice interview questions that older job seekers might face, which will be a great way to get some of the nerves calmed down ahead of time. But really, with our education, our students know the material second-nature, so they already typically have a ton of confidence going in.

So why is it important for you to have a degree or a certification? Because in a world of specialties, you need to stand out. That’s where we come in.

 

Jack Of All Trades

No, not me. I mean, I’m good, but not that good. This post is about a lady who’s done so many different things with Brighton, it’s hard to keep straight.

Amanda MacDonald is an instructor and also was a success coach…until a week ago. I took over her students for success coaching, and Amanda picked up the additional responsibilities as the Curriculum Manager. I asked Amanda to give her bio in her own words:

Hello! My name is Amanda MacDonald and I am the Curriculum Manager for Brighton College. I also teach the Child Development course. I have my bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and my Master’s in Educational Technology, both from Arizona State University…go Sun Devils! I have a wonderful husband and two sons. My oldest is almost 7 years old and is in first grade. He is in a Mandarin Immersion program in school and it is so amazing to see and hear what he has learned so far! My youngest is 3 1/2 years old and loves doing everything his big brother and dad do! When I am not working, I love to play outdoors with my children and our big, fluffy Alaskan Malamute puppy! I am excited to work at Brighton College and help my colleagues make our curriculum relevant and engaging for all of our students! Thank you for choosing Brighton College!

Amanda is one of the nicest people to work with, and she’s such a hard worker that you know if you ask her to do something, she’ll do it quickly and accurately the first time she tries it. It’s not every day you’re blessed to work with such a great person, and I’m lucky I get to work with her every day! So maybe it IS every day! Well, at least for those of us at Brighton College.

Maybe you should join us and see why our faculty is amazing, and why the curriculum is 5-star thanks to Amanda!