News - Back to School Just a Little Later in Life: Five Keys to Making It Work

Back to School Just a Little Later in Life: Five Keys to Making It Work

By Carla Morris

Lori Sadler describes her life as smooth sailing before that great disruptor “merger” crept in and threatened her employment picture. Changes at A.G. Edwards, her employer at the time, persuaded her to think about sharpening her competitive edge.

“I quickly realized that to compete in this new company, I would need to take a step further,” she reflects.

For Lori, that meant taking classes to convert her two-year associate’s degree into a bachelor’s degree. On the recommendation of a friend, she began the degree-completion program at Greenville College, majoring in organizational leadership.

Lori earned her bachelor’s in 2013 and followed up by receiving her MBA last spring, Lori Sadleralso from Greenville College. The family-focused wife and mother of two sons offers five tips to others considering the prospect of “back-to-school” just a little later in life.  

1. “Help!” I need somebody

Lori recommends finding a program that supports students in all ways possible from clerical processing to classroom instruction. “The support I received from Mark Thomas, our Org Leadership director, was amazing,” she reflects. “He was so supportive both inside and outside of the classroom.”

2. “Me” time is okay

“I struggled with taking time away from my family every week to focus on me,” says Lori of the dedication coursework requires. Ultimately, she realized that focusing on her educational goals in order to provide a better future for her family did not equate with selfish indulgence.

3. Fear of failure is real

“Back-to-school” requires courage, but feedback from her professors and constructive critiques gave Lori the boost she needed. “I had a very supportive family and with time, GC became a part of my extended family,” she reflects. “The staff is by far, the greatest I have ever had to deal with.” The accessibility of professors, even in the all-online format of her MBA program, gave Lori a sense of companionship on her journey. “This makes learning so much easier.”

4. Community can happen online

Lori met her MBA classmates on the day they graduated together. “I felt like I knew them forever.” When a particularly rough week took its toll on Lori and commanded time and attention away from class, one of her classmates noticed. “[She] personally reached out to me to ensure I was okay,” says Lori. “Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”

5. Embrace the merger of classroom and workplace

GC’s MBA program includes a capstone project that invites students to apply what they have learned to problems in the workplace. Lori led a group that solicited feedback from clients. The information she and her team gathered drove improvements to Wells Fargo’s “client-facing” websites and apps. Ultimately, her work helped to generate an 86 percent increase in users.

“My leadership skills were definitely enhanced,” she reflects, “and I was able to network with leaders of all levels in my organization.”

If you think going back to school might improve your competitive edge as it did for Lori, click here to learn more:

Growing a Business by Degrees

Greenville College Receives Top Ranking for Online Programs

The One-Year MBA

MBA in Human Resource Management

MBA in Nonprofit Management

This story was published on September 20, 2016

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