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A Passion for Teaching and Preaching: Meet Doctor of Ministry Program Director, Paul McCuistion

by South University
February 9, 2017

“I’ve been preaching all of my life,” says Doctor of Ministry Program Director at South University, Tampa Campus and Orlando Learning Site Dr. Paul McCuistion. “When I was three or four, I’d have my stuffed animals lined up on the bed and I’d be preaching to them.”

Although he’s been a professor now for over eight years (and loving every minute of it), Dr. McCuistion has spent much of his professional life working full- or part-time in the pulpit. He actively practiced ministry for 20 years, some full time; some bi-vocational. “There aren’t many careers that you could name that I haven’t somehow come in contact with,” he says. “I did construction, insurance, title work, a little bit of everything, and enjoying life.” Some were to support ministry and others to support my family while I did graduate work.

At 52, he decided he wanted even more. “I walked into the house one day and told my lovely wife, ‘I think I'll go back to school,’” he recalls. That announcement, that decision, turned into an 11-year quest resulting in two master’s degrees and a PhD. First, he earned a Master of Arts in the New Testament from Johnson University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Saint Leo University—where he also began serving as an Adjunct Professor.

For Dr. McCuistion, teaching feels right. He loves to do it and has for a long time. In fact, he remembers attending his first Bible camp at age nine and then returning the following Sunday to share a full report of what he learned in front of the church congregation.

“I always knew that I could teach; it’s just a gift,” he says. “When God sets his sights on something, there’s no guesswork about it. You know the call and you know that you’re responsible for it.”

Soon after his master’s, Dr. McCuistion earned a Doctor of Philosophy in the New Testament from the North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. He then taught at two other institutions before joining the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at South University in 2016.

“Coming to South University has been the highlight of my academic career,” he says. “Not only am I getting to work with world-class scholars, but this program is the first I’ve seen that’s truly connecting the study of theology with the application of theology in church ministry.”

The practicality of South University’s DMin program aligns well with what Dr. McCuistion is doing in his own personal ministry, Teaching4Jesus Ministries. Through Teaching4Jesus, Dr. McCuistion leads a seminar that helps churches to sharpen their focus on Jesus. Working with his brother, David whose background is in organizational leadership, Dr. McCuistion also guides church leaders in developing and refining their mission, vision, goals, and strategy—ensuring that these all tie back to that underlying theological focus. Their vision for T4J is Empowering Christians for service that builds up of the body of Christ.

The DMin program at South University has been a great fit for Dr. McCuistion, who sees extreme value in the way the program teaches students not only the underlying theology of ministry, but also gives them practical tools and strategies for connecting it to their ministry practice.

“First, we lay the foundation and then we move into ministry skills—leadership and management, discipleship, communication skills, conflict mediation. Then there are practicum courses and advanced ministry skills. The program moves from theology to application of theology,” he explains. “I think it’s tremendous.”

Join Dr. McCuistion for a Workshop that can Support Your Ministry

This February, Dr. McCuistion and South University are offering a workshop for pastors in the Tampa and Orlando areas. The workshop, titled “Forging the Sword of the Spirit: Historical Survey of the Development of the New Testament Text,” will review the history of the written Bible and is designed to help ministry practitioners answer a question that many of today’s churchgoers are asking: “Can I trust the Bible to be God’s Word for today?”

All ministry professionals are invited to attend this workshop at South University, Tampa Campus on February 28th from 6 to 8pm and at our Orlando Learning Center on March 7th from 6 to 8pm. The event will include a Meet and Greet, a Presentation from Dr. McCuistion and a 30 minute Q&A session. If you can’t make it, follow South University on Facebook for news and other upcoming events. To learn more about the DMin program, request information online or at 1.800.688.0932 anytime.

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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by South University
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today.

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What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by South University
November 16, 2016

Keeping our communities and our country safe is a key focus of everyone in criminal justice. Of course, what that looks like in practice depends on the career you pursue and whether it’s in law enforcement, correction, politics, or law. Across the board, however, a few things hold true for those exploring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice.

Education and Experience Can Help You Stand Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), numerous careers in criminal justice may see 4% job growth in the coming years. This includes, Detectives and Criminal Investigators and Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. Others, like Private Detectives and Investigators, Bailiffs, and Police Patrol Officers, will experience an average growth rate around 5% to 8%.

As with any job and depending on location, applicants may face competition for desirable positions. (Median annual salary for criminal justice roles mentioned above ranges from $41,000 to over $77,000.) The BLS especially anticipates strong competition for Private Detective and Investigator roles.

In competitive job situations, a candidate with a criminal justice degree and work experience may be most likely to catch the eye of a potential employer. For example, for Police and Detective positions, the BLS says that “applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the best job opportunities.” For Probation Officer and Corrections positions, as well as employment within federal agencies, a bachelor’s degree is often required.

Technology is Increasingly Important across Professions

If you’ve been researching or studying criminal justice online, you likely know that technology has a drastic impact on the field.

On one side, there’s an array of valuable technologies. These take many forms, including connected database systems, automated license plate readers, and handheld biometric scanners used to identify suspects. In some locations, criminal justice workers currently carry tablets and smartphones that make it easier to access and distribute information. Such tools will only improve in the years to come.

Criminal justice professions under increasing scrutiny are also turning to technology like social media to build trust and demonstrate transparency in their communities. Although privacy concerns are still being debated, GPS systems and body cameras are also being introduced to support both safety and accountability in criminal justice professions.

Meanwhile, others apply technology for harm, with the The Department of Justice describing cyber crime as "one of the greatest threats facing our country" and Business Insider reporting that “the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks are at an all-time high.” When it comes to jobs, cyber crime is driving employment trends, with the BLS noting that “Internet scams, as well as other types of financial and insurance fraud, create demand for investigative services.” Such crimes are expected to continue at local, national and even global levels.

What to Look for in Criminal Justice Programs

While we’ve already noted that a criminal justice degree can help when applying for jobs, it’s also essential that students select the right program.

Your criminal justice degree program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) will determine program length and curriculum, but all criminal justice degrees should share some foundational elements. First, anyone considering criminal justice courses or comparing criminal justice curriculums should look for programs that explore the importance of technology in this field. Equally valuable are criminal justice courses that address ethics and topics related to race, class, and gender. Finally, soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution should also be taught throughout a criminal justice curriculum.

Whether you prefer studying criminal justice online or on-campus, South University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that can prepare you for working in today’s changing field. Explore our criminal justice programs online or contact us today to learn more.

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Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

by South University
November 10, 2016

Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

When it comes to college, not everyone finds the right fit the first time. Maybe your degree program no longer excites you or your current school isn’t as supportive or flexible as you’d hoped. Perhaps you took a break from college, and you’ve decided to finish what you started. Whatever the case, transferring college credits to a new school is sometimes the best choice for completing your degree.

The following tips can help you create a plan for transferring your credits and finishing your degree.

  1. Set aside time to research programs and contact your target schools.
    Once you pick what type of program you want, you’ll need to see what schools offer the program near you on campus or online. If you’re switching schools but want to stay in a similar program, be aware that program names may differ slightly across institutions. You’ll need to dig into the program details or ask an admissions representative to ensure you understand the program outcomes.

    While you’ll likely find programmatic information online, everyone’s academic history is unique, so you’ll need to speak to the admissions team about your eligibility for transferring credits. Your easiest and fastest option will be talking on the phone or in-person to avoid a long, complex email chain. Make sure to come prepared for these conversations by gathering documentation, including transcripts, to make sure you can prove you’ve completed courses or training.

  2. Ask schools about their transfer policies.
    Transfer of credit policies and procedures will vary by school and often involve minimum grade requirements. Schools typically require that courses you transfer for credit have similar descriptions and outcomes to the courses they offer. In addition, some schools may be able to take your diploma, certificate or associates degree and apply those credits towards a bachelor’s or even master’s level degree program.

    Sometimes two schools may have an articulation agreement--a document that describes what courses students may transfer from one school to the other in specific programs. While an articulation agreement between two schools can make transferring credit easier, you’ll still want to review the document carefully and contact a school representative for specific questions. Most community colleges will have articulation agreements in place with traditional, 4-year institutions.

  3. Don’t overlook non-traditional sources of transfer credit.
    Having prior college experience isn’t the only way to earn transfer credit. If you’ve been in the military, you may qualify for military experience transfer credit, as most military training courses have been evaluated for academic credit by the American Council on Education (ACE).

    Other non-traditional sources include exams that assess whether what you’ve learned from the military or other professional experiences may be deemed equivalent to college credit. These exams include the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) exams.

    Let the schools you’re considering know if you have military experience or are researching the CLEP or DSST exams, so that they can advise you on how to move forward.

  4. Transfer credit policies should not be the only factors driving your decisions.
    It’s easy to get caught up in the focus on transferring credit, but picking a school should be a fully thought out decision. Treat the process the same as if you were looking for a new school from scratch. Be sure to ask about accreditation, financial aid, academic support resources, faculty credentialing and access, alumni success, career services, class scheduling and anything else that might be important to you in a new school. Was there something you didn’t like about your last school? If so, avoid running into that same problem again.

  5. Considering transferring to South University? Let’s arrange a time to talk.
    If you’re thinking about transferring colleges, consider South University. Backed by a tradition of over 100 years, South University allows you to earn your degree online or on campus, with classes led by qualified and supportive faculty who are always ready to lend a hand. We are driven to help you succeed, so our transfer of credit policies are designed to make the most of the effort you’ve already put into your education. Request information online to learn more today.

Transfer credit is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. South University offers no guarantee that credit earned at another institution will be accepted into a program of study offered by South University.

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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by South University
October 6, 2016

Earning a college degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it benefits. At a younger age, while you may have had the benefit of more free time and less responsibility, you might have been less confident about what you wanted for your future and career. As an adult learner, you likely have more defined career goals accompanied by real-world and on-the-job skills and experience to rely on--all things that will come in handy in as you pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree.

If you are looking start or finish your degree but have fears about going back to school, stop and remember the following tips and information to remind yourself that you can achieve your academic goals.

Fear #1: I Don’t Have Room in My Schedule

For many adults, work, family and other obligations can make for a busy schedule. With the right amount of planning however, you can find time to fit school into your daily or weekly routine. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work each week and if there is a set, regular schedule to assignments such as with many online programs. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day by looking through your schedule and seeing where you have opportunities. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you’ll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, talk to your friends and family and see how they can help support you while you’re working towards your degree. Anything from babysitting, chores around the house or planning meals can help free up your time for school work. Their emotional support can be just as valuable in helping to keep you motivated.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your employer. Hopefully, they’ll offer encouragement and maybe flexibility in your work schedule. (Plus, there’s always the possibility of tuition assistance.) During classes, one way to save time is by relating your schoolwork to your job where possible. For example, for a class assignment, you might choose to create a business proposal that could be reused for your job.

Fear #2: I’m out of Practice Being a Student

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you’ve participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind. As you research schools, ask how many adult learners are currently enrolled. See if they offer an orientation class to ease you into the swing of things or provide support staff and resources that will be readily available to help answer your questions. Once you’re in school, get to know other adult learners; you can swap study and scheduling tips, and make valuable contacts for after you graduate. Once you start, keep in mind it may take you a few weeks or courses to feel comfortable writing papers, conducting research and completing assignments again. However, once you are comfortable with the day-to-day aspects of your program, you may find that you are able to complete tasks quicker and with greater ease.

Fear 3: I’m Not Good with Computers or New Technology

Many careers require computer skills, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you. Orientation classes can help you get up to speed on the software you’ll need, and schools commonly offer software tutorials, tutoring, and webinars for those who want extra training. While online programs rely on an online classroom and may potentially include digital textbooks or a mobile app, these tools are designed for ease of use for a wide variety of individuals regardless of technological expertise.

Fear 4: I’m Anxious about the Cost and Time I’ll Spend

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. Beyond this, try connecting with alumni on Facebook or LinkedIn and speak with your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you and justify your time investment. Some employers, for example, may offer a raise in salary for completing a higher level degree.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options--including grants, federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. If you’ve completed some college courses in the past, transferring credit from your past college experience, can help you save time and money. As you narrow in on your top schools, take the time to talk to their finance counselors about transferring credit and other options for making a degree program more affordable.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, despite your fears, earning your degree as an adult can play in your favor. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess--things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Along with offering a full array of academic resources and dedicated support staff for every student, South University’s campus and online programs are designed to accommodate the schedules of busy, working adults. To learn more about how we support adult learners across all undergraduate and graduate degree programs, contact us today.

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