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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.

by South University
April 9, 2018
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Quick Tips for Transferring College Credit to a New School

by Jared Newnam
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.

by Jared Newnam
November 10, 2016
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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.


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).

by South University
November 18, 2015
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Why Businesses Need Information Systems and Technology Professionals

by South University
November 12, 2015

Just what is the role of information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) in modern organizations? According to two of our faculty members, these areas are integral to every business in every industry.

From Competitive Advantage to Necessity

Jason Crittenden entered college focused on business, but soon something else caught his attention, a new development called the Internet. He was hooked. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Information Systems, he continued on to earn a master’s degree in Information Systems and a PhD in Instructional Systems and Workforce Development.

Dr. Crittenden started his career in web development before transitioning to database development, building robust, scalable systems for his department, which he then linked to the enterprise systems. Following that role, he spent several years as a research professor studying educational technology. In 2011, he joined South University, Richmond as the Department Chair of Information Systems and Technology.

Today, he sees the dynamism of technology and the way it influences businesses as the most exciting element of the field. “Business happens now in nanoseconds. It doesn't happen in days or in weeks, and having IT and IS solutions has become a must in all organizations,” observes Dr. Crittenden, adding, “We wake up every day to new technology wonders.” Such changes, he says, can drive everything from the formation, evolution and eventually obsolescence of a business.

“If a market in Asia has a glitch, it is felt all over the world within the hour,” says Dr. Crittenden. “Once IT was purely for competitive advantage reasons, but it has evolved so that, yes there are companies that can and still utilize it as a competitive advantage, but IT is now a necessity. There is no business without IT or IS anymore.”

Finding Answers to Business Questions

Angelo Thalassinidis started his career in computer science, and over time he discovered his knowledge could inform business decisions. His interest in the field, however, was sparked long before beginning his career. “At about 12 years old, I started dating a girl whose mom didn't like me. The only way we could communicate was if I would write her letters and code the letters,” he recalls.

After learning to write in code, he became interested in breaking codes, which eventually led him to study mathematics and computer science in college. When he finished school, however, he was surprised to realize that he preferred working with databases over cryptology. Before long, he found work in business intelligence, monitoring and analyzing information published around the world to forecast business performance.

Following roles in management, consulting, and data warehousing and information support systems, he moved to Greece, where he co-founded a company that collected real estate data and produced market indexes. In 2011, he returned to the US and began working at South University, Tampa as the Director of the Department of Information Systems and Technology.

Over the last 20+ years, Dr. Thalassinidis has seen information systems and technology professionals become increasingly important for businesses. “The business comes to us with an issue or a concern and we are the solution,” he says. “The question used to be ‘Can you do this?’ and now it has become, ‘We have this general problem and we have no idea how to address it. Can you help us?’”

When faced with these questions, finding a solution quickly is crucial. “In the business environment, because of the complexity, because of a number of things, you cannot afford to not do it right the first time. You cannot afford to not have a reliable infrastructure. You cannot afford down time on your network or your website,” he says.

A Graduate Program Joining Business with Information Systems and Technology

According to Dr. Crittenden and Dr. Thalassinidis, South University's Master of Science in Information Systems program is not only accessible to business professionals, but also teaches skills very relevant to today’s organizations. “This is not a heavily technical program,” explains Jason. “It is a program that bridges the business world with the IT world.”

For starters, students are not required have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and those from a business background are welcomed, even encouraged, to apply.

“This degree will help someone get a very, very good hands on experience with what technologies and what governance methodologies are out there and how to use them from a business perspective,” says Dr. Thalassinidis. “This program is designed for people who want to incorporate Information Systems into their organizations and to gain a competitive advantage in the workplace by understanding what these technologies can do.”

Learn about the Master of Science in Information Systems program on the blog or visit our program detail pages for more information!

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.


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).

by South University
November 12, 2015
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Faculty Bring Diverse Business and Technology Backgrounds to New MSIS Program

by South University
October 27, 2015

“It is such an exciting field. You are never bored,” says Marcia Berkey, D.B.A., faculty member and chair of Information Technology at South University, Online Programs. “Information systems and technology touches upon every single field. Whether someone works in healthcare or entertainment or any field, organizations have to have IT knowledge.”

Two of Many Possible Career Paths

When you talk to Dr. Berkey and her colleague, Dr. Mourad Oulid-Aissa, their passion for—and knowledge of—the field is immediately apparent, and their two different stories perfectly exemplify the diversity of the field and our faculty.

While he’s only been at South University a little over 3 years, faculty member Dr. Oulid-Aissa has over 3 decades of professional experience in technical fields and holds 7 software design patents in the U.S. and Europe.

Early in his career, Dr. Oulid-Aissa worked in telecommunications and later with real-time database systems, holding manager, director, and vice president roles at several large corporations. Over the last 10 years, Dr. Oulid-Aissa has transitioned to teaching and consulting, focusing on information systems and technology.

“You can draw a link between large communication systems and large real-time database systems and the field of information systems,” he says. “It was kind of a logical progression.”

Dr. Berkey, on the other hand, describes her career path as “a wandering around kind of story” that involved changing jobs as she and her husband moved from place to place. In one job selling sewing machines, her curiosity was piqued as she noticed both the machines and her work processes becoming increasingly electronic. She recalls, “That’s when I really started delving into this field.”

In her next position, Dr. Berkey had a chance to get involved with database development. As time passed, she continued building her expertise at every opportunity, eventually becoming a corporate trainer teaching others the technical skills she’d learned. “I was just fascinated with technology and how every business manages information in some form,” she explains.

Driven by this fascination, Dr. Berkey earned her bachelor’s degree before going on for her master’s and then a doctorate degree. In 2004, after teaching at various universities, Dr. Berkey joined South University, Online Programs and later became a full-time faculty member.

Looking into the Future of Information Systems

Since her first ventures into information technology, Dr. Berkey has witnessed constant technological evolution. “Everything is faster, devices are smaller, but the influence of technology is larger,” she says.

For Dr. Oulid-Aissa, how these advances enable organizational innovation is what’s most exciting—for example, how the convergence of once separate networks has allowed for multimedia access and interactivity among multitudes of users, applications and devices.

“This convergence of technology and of networks enables what we refer to as full services, these blended services where you can initiate a service from your mobile phone and complete it on your computer,” he explains. This type of connectivity, he predicts, will continue spreading to many more devices.

According to Dr. Oulid-Aissa, real-time data analysis and automation are also growing in popularity and being utilized to impact more aspects of business and industries. “I see more automation used in systems to capture, store and represent knowledge, and also enabling our systems to learn from that knowledge. We’re getting into ideas of artificial intelligence and how to better use information to make effective business decisions.”

“All of this,” he explains, “involves the notion of information systems and how we manage and organize data to create information which can then generate knowledge. From knowledge hopefully can come wisdom.”

How to Lead Amidst Constant Change

According to Dr. Berkey, South University’s new Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) can help students to keep up with and implement new technologies as they arise.

“This degree will help them to manage all of these technologies, to manage the process, the programmers, the vision, and all of those things together,” she says. “We can’t teach what is going to be new technology in 6 months, but we can give students a great foundation to build upon and teach them how to stay current.”

Having management acumen is extremely valuable in all positions, says Dr. Oulid-Aissa. “Even if you're an individual contributor tasked to do very specific things, organizations like to see people who have a sense of leadership and initiative and who work well in teams—people who can help others as leaders, who can make decisions without being told what to do. Of course, if you look into leadership positions, what we focus on in MSIS should especially help students target such positions.”

Dr. Berkey adds, “Once students are exposed to different courses in the program—on data management, risk analysis, security, all of the areas that we focus on—it helps them to be a broader-based manager or leader, because if they’re never been exposed to these concepts, they don’t know the importance of them. Every company needs to be concerned about these areas and in tune with how technology can help them address these concerns.”

To learn about the MSIS program, read an introduction to the new program, request more information or visit the MSIS program page!

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.

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.


by South University
October 27, 2015
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