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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by South University
April 9, 2018

Earning a degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it positives. At a younger age, maybe you were less confident about what you wanted or had to delay degree completion for personal reasons. Now, you’re at a different time in your life with more defined career goals, life skills and experience—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, know that it is possible to achieve your academic goals. Below, we compare four common concerns of potential students to the realities of going back to school as an adult learner.

Myth #1: You Don’t Have Room in Your Schedule

Balancing a job, family, friends, and school won't be easy, but many before you have a found a way. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. 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, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your boss. 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.

Myth #2: You've Been Out of School Too Long

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 who will be readily available to 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.

Myth #3: You’re Not Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology

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. Even in online programs, these days, online classrooms are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Myth #4: You Won’t be Able to Manage the Cost of Your Education

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 finding programmatic alumni stories and talking to your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to 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, age can play in your favor when going back to school. 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.

Note: This blog was originally published October 6, 2016 and updated April 9, 2018.

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Meet Jesus Borrego: South University, Austin IT Program Director

by South University
January 25, 2018
A photo of Jesus Borrego.

Jesus Borrego became interested in electronics as a child of five or six, helping his grandfather build radios with off-the-shelf components. By the time he got to college, he decided to earn an electrical engineering degree and, in doing so, discovered computers. Before long, he also held a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science. Later, he would return for a PhD in Information Systems Management with a focus on Information Assurance.

"What I love about IT is that you can never know it all," he says. "There are so many branches that you can take 20 years studying one area and never finish it."

A Rich Career that Crossed Disciplines & Country Lines

Borrego began his technology career in a company with Top Secret clearance contracting for the US Air Force and Pentagon. There, as a Senior Engineer, he worked on flight and satellite replenishment simulations, including simulations of missile defense systems for nuclear attacks.

Across multiple companies, Borrego spent over two decades in satellite communications, telecommunications, and flight software. Yet, these are far from his only specialties. Throughout Borrego’s 35+ year career, he’s led teams and projects in custom software development, database administration, communications and networking, cyber security, and information assurance, including roles at global organizations such as Western Union and HP/Agilent Technologies. He's also presented in English and Spanish at over a dozen national and international conferences.

"What I like is the linkage between one topic and the other,” he explains. “I enjoy going across the field, rather than being an expert in just one area."

At one point, Borrego worked for a company tasked with consolidating Metlife International's worldwide database. In this job, he traveled to Mexico, Chile, and India, spending three months in each country working with peers from around the world.

What I liked about the project was interacting with so many different groups of people, so many different languages, and so many customs,” he says. “It was a very complex technological project, but the biggest takeaway to me was how similar we are worldwide. We have the same dreams, the same pursuits, the same need to provide for our family.

A Dedicated Technology Educator & Personal Mentor

Outside his industry work, Borrego has been teaching since 1989, something he’s loved since the very first class he taught. "It's addictive to see somebody's expression when they get it and the lightbulb goes off," he says.

Today, Borrego is proud to be the Program Director of Information Technology at South University, Austin.

"I've been teaching in technology for 28 years and I believe we have the right curriculum. That’s what attracted me to South," he says. "In particular, the purpose of our bachelor's is to learn the language so you can understand the different branches of technology. Our courses give you the foundation that allows you to move into specialties like cybersecurity or artificial intelligence as well as any new careers emerging inside those fields."

As an instructor, Borrego is tough but compassionate. He pushes his students to actively participate in class, believing that the worst thing a student can do is to not ask questions. "You can tell when somebody's not getting it," he notes. "I tell them, 'Okay, I see that look. You are not getting this one part. We're going to stay here until you get it.'"

He also takes the time to get to know his students and offer advice on their careers as well as balancing their schoolwork with their family lives. Often, he stays in touch with past students. "I've seen them go from entry-level positions up into senior-level and management positions over the years," he says.

While Borrego acknowledges that the IT field can be intimidating, he believes many opportunities await those who have the passion and drive to pursue it, stating "everything is hard before you know it, and then it gets easier."

Giving Back to the Community: Dr. Borrego to Host Cybersecurity Minischool

In everything from consumer shopping to banking to healthcare and more, an electronic security breach can have high consequences for individuals and organizations.

To teach you about protecting personal and enterprise assets, information assurance and cybersecurity industry veteran Dr. Jesus Borrego is hosting a no fee Cybersecurity Minischool on February 16, 2018, from 6pm to 8:30pm at South University, Austin. All members of the community and local businesses are welcome!

Participants will receive a certificate of attendance, helping those who plan to request Continuing Education Units from professional organizations. Get more information and register for this upcoming event today.

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What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by Jared Newnam
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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3 Key Traits of Modern Doctor of Ministry Programs

by Jared Newnam
September 6, 2016

The theological landscape is undergoing rapid, even revolutionary, change. Religious communities are increasingly diverse—not just in areas like gender and race, but also in beliefs and world viewpoints.

Just as the religious community has evolved, so have the options for developing your ministry skills. If you’ve ever considered earning your DMin, it’s time to take another look at your options for a degree in ministry.

1. Fully Online Ministry Programs

Technology now enables you to pursue your degree in ministry from anywhere with reliable internet. As a student, you can connect with DMin faculty and staff through web chats, online classroom, tools and phone calls, all without leaving your practice or your family. For example, at South University, online ministry program does not include any residency or on-campus requirements.

Further helping you to learn from anywhere are systems like Logos Bible Software. Logos offers users a vast, library of eBooks, articles, and educational resources accessible via their computers and mobile devices. Plus, everything in the Logos Bible system is searchable, making research faster than ever.

2. Intentional Diversity

Intentional diversity is another signpost of modern Doctor of Ministry programs. With denominational preference at an all-time low, your education can prepare you for a pluralistic society by bringing together individuals from across traditions to discuss, debate, and share perspectives in a safe, supportive environment. Ultimately, this experience can give you access to a diverse demographic likely to mimic the ministry context in which you will serve.

3. Multiple Entry Points - No MDiv Required

Historically, people looking for an advanced degree in ministry could only enter Doctor of Ministry (DMin) programs after earning a Master of Divinity (MDiv). The problem is that an MDiv program alone can take three years, with a DMin taking an additional two years of time and expense. Earning your DMin degree on this path could require five years of your life.

At South University, we have another way. Even if you start with a bachelor’s degree, you can earn your DMin at South University within three years, while building practical skills essential for effective ministry leadership. On the other hand, if you’re already working in the ministry and have a significant amount of coursework or related graduate degree, you may qualify for the Advanced Track in South University’s DMin program. Qualifying students can earn 56 credits worth of Advanced Standard Credit, leaving only 40 credits of ministry study to complete. This track cuts the time needed to earn a DMin by more than half.

Benefits of Earning Your Doctor of Ministry

Ready for the next step in your ministry career? Earning your DMin can equip you to serve and lead more effectively as:

  • Pastor, ministry staff member, and lay minister in local churches/parishes
  • Program staff leader in parachurch organizations
  • Chaplain and spiritual care coordinator in a variety of institutional settings
  • Program staff leader in nonprofit service agencies, community development, advocacy and justice ministries
  • Social entrepreneur pursuing business as mission, and commercial and industrial chaplaincy

Learn More About Pursing A Doctorate Degree in Ministry

At South University, Online Programs, you’ll find both the flexibility of fully online ministry program and educational pathways designed for those with and without a graduate degree. We welcome people of all affiliations, including those working internationally as missionaries or otherwise. Our DMin program is non-denominational and rooted in the Christian tradition. Learn more and request information today!


See http://ge.southuniversity.edu/programoffering/5425 for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

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Faculty share driving factors behind Information Systems graduate program

by South University
November 18, 2015

As part of the team developing the curriculum for South University’s Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program, Jason Crittenden and Angelo Thalassinidis focused on answering one question. A question that was not what courses students should take, but instead “What competencies do we want our students to learn?”

After looking closely at the needs of today’s businesses, they arrived at three answers.

1. Data Analysis and Management

With all the talk about the value of big data for businesses, the team identified data analysis and management as an essential skill for information systems professionals.

“Big data is here to stay,” says Dr. Crittenden, Department Chair of Information Systems and Technology at South University, Richmond. “There is an extraordinary amount of unstructured data that resides in our world and companies are begging people to sit down with it and try to find out what they can do with all of this data.”

Both Dr. Crittenden and Dr. Thalassinidis believe this data is being used in fascinating ways--and that the possibilities only get more interesting with evolving technology.

“Once you connect all the data that we have or that we can gain access to with natural language processing and artificial intelligence, we're going to see a number of developments that will have tremendous business applications,” says Dr. Thalassinidis, Director of the Department of Information Systems and Technology at South University, Tampa.

2. IT Governance and Compliance

With the constant influx of new or updated regulations from the federal government, IT governance and compliance is the second area the MSIS team identified as essential.

“From HIPAA to Sarbanes-Oxley, you are hard-pressed to find a regulation that gets released by the Federal Government that does not have some slant where IT needs to be involved, whether that's in the health world, the criminal justice world, or the educational world,” says Dr. Crittenden, who also notes that many job listings today want people skilled in IT auditing.

3. Emerging Technology

With technology changing every day, people who can very quickly research, learn, adopt, and implement new technologies are crucial.

Dr. Thalassinidis expects that much of this new technology will be concentrated in specific areas. “Where we see innovative technologies being used now is to address business ambiguity. We're going to see more of that,” he says. “We're going to also see the connectivity of everything exploding even more. Because of technology, small companies can act big, and big companies can act small and give you that personalized experience.”

However, what exactly new technology will look like, reminds Dr. Crittenden, is hard to predict. “Even the brightest of individuals out there, the Stephen Hawkings of the world, the Elon Musks, the people who sit and think about how these things are going to happen in the future, they really have no idea either.”

Combining These Competencies: Bigger, Faster, Stronger

If students develop competencies in these three areas of data analysis and management, IT governance and compliance, and emerging technologies, says Dr. Crittenden, they will gain valuable skills for their professional future.

He says, “It will make them better managers of technology, it will make them better analysts, and I think students will be, what I always like to say, ‘bigger, faster and stronger.’”

Dr. Thalassinidis adds, “The MSIS program addresses all aspects of information systems, whether that is their development and maintenance or even retirement, in a way that will reduce risk to the business and enable businesses to continue moving forward.”

Plus, what you learn, says Dr. Crittenden, can stand the test of time. “We have brought components into the program—risk management, compliance, data management, the emerging technology pieces—that really prepare students for not just jobs that are happening today, but jobs that will be available a year from now, two years from now, ten years from now.”

To learn more about the MSIS program, explore our related posts or visit our program detail pages.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Administrative office: South University, 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31406-4805 © 2015 South University. All rights reserved. Our email address is materialsreview@southuniversity.edu.

See suprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

The information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of South University.

South University, Tampa is licensed by the Commission for Independent Education, Florida Department of Education. Additional information regarding this institution may be obtained by contacting the Commission at 325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1414, Tallahassee, FL 323099-0400, toll-free telephone number (888)224-6684.

South University, Tampa is licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education, License No. 3284.

South University, Richmond, and South University, Virginia Beach, are certified to operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to Title 23, Chapter 21.1, §23-276.4 of the Code of Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (James Monroe Building, 101 North 14th St; Richmond, VA 23219; 804-225-2600; www.schev.edu).

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