Glenn Pace completed his bachelor's degree in Economic Crime Investigation from Champlain in 2020.
Why did you decide to pursue your degree?
When I take a step back and look at my career, I actually never intended to get my degree. Since 2004, I've earned the necessary certifications to do my job, and not having a degree was never a show-stopper for me. At the time, I was successful in finding new job opportunities and advancing my salary and career.
However, around that time, I was working for Allstate Insurance and they had a tuition reimbursement program. I decided to take advantage of this benefit, which is how I started my degree. Over the years, I ended up changing companies and not all of them offered the same tuition reimbursement benefits, so I didn't complete it back then.
In 2018, I worked at a different company and received tuition reimbursement for about a semester, so I decided to finish what I started. The tuition reimbursement didn't last, but I was determined to finish my degree on my own. I had had a few job opportunities pop up and people wouldn't talk to me because I didn't have my degree, even though I was over-qualified in terms of work experience. All of this inspired me to finish my degree to see what doors it could open moving forward.
Finishing my degree at 46 years old was less about helping my career now. Rather, I hope that by having my bachelor's degree, I can leverage it into senior-level management or leadership roles in the future. Essentially, doors that weren't open for me before because I didn't have my degree now are.
How did you make online learning work for you?
In order to be successful in learning online, I needed to get myself organized to stay focused. One of the things I learned pretty quickly was that different classes required different attention. Some required a lot of reading, others had me writing a lot of papers, some had physical textbooks, and others had digital textbooks. As my work became more and more electronic, I discovered that using a tool like Microsoft OneNote helped keep me organized. I would create a workbook for each class, and then create tabs for everything within each notebook for things like discussions, assignments, papers, and sources. I found that literally copying the assignment, pasting it into Microsoft OneNote, and then working on it in this electronic notebook helped me work on it throughout the week and access my work from all of my devices no matter where I was, which kept me organized and focused.
How did you juggle working full-time and going back to school?
Making everything work was challenging for me because it wasn't just working and going to school. I'm also the Vice President of the Band Parents Association for my kids' high school marching band, which involves a lot of activities, like band camp. Additionally, I have been a coach for my kids' sports teams and even helped them learn to play their musical instruments. I have also continued to maintain my certifications by learning and passing new exams along the way. As for my job, I've never had a standard 9-5 schedule. There were times when I was working until 4:00 am, not getting much sleep, and then jumping into schoolwork.
I got myself into a schedule of getting ahead in my coursework on Sundays and Mondays so that by Wednesday I was prepared for when my weekly discussion prompts were due. When COVID-19 hit, it became even harder to stick to this schedule because I was working from home. I had to be mindful about stopping my work by a specific time, to then start schoolwork. I tried to get most of my coursework done during the evenings and then catching up on the weekends. As I neared the end of my program, and classes became more involved, I would find myself working remotely eight hours per day, then jumping into school work for three or four hours at night, and spending the bulk of the weekends on coursework, which allowed more detailed focus on the more challenging and time-consuming assignments. The goal was to get a head start on the following week's work by Sunday evening.
My time commitments varied throughout the length of the program, but I did my best to set a schedule and stick with it.
What, in your view, makes Champlain unique?
I look at my daughter, who just graduated from high school in 2020, as she starts college during a very challenging time with the pandemic still in full force. Unfortunately, her college forced her online due to COVID-19, and so since I've been through the process of online learning firsthand, I've been trying to help her understand everything that goes into it. Going from the usability I had at Champlain, to trying to help set my daughter up with her school's technology has been really challenging, as her college just isn't set up to support her at the same caliber that Champlain is at.
The experience I had at Champlain was really unique. Between the quality of the programs, the quality of instructors, the advising/support available to me, and the simplicity and organization of Champlain's technology, I was really impressed. There might be something better out there, but from what I'm seeing, there isn't. Everyone I worked with at Champlain was very engaged and willing to help, connect, and assist. I enjoyed my time at Champlain and am proud to associate with this school.
What is your advice for anyone who is thinking about starting classes?
For anyone who needs a nudge to take the next step: just do it. If you're worried about the expense, look into financial aid options. If you don't qualify, look at going back to school as an investment in yourself and your future. Once you get into the program, I'm confident you'll enjoy the conversations you'll have with others and learn a lot.