Journey to a master’s degree: a dream deferred no longer

September 11, 2017

For Capella University graduate Stephen King (not the writer), the year 2015 brought revitalization: a dream he had long harbored was given new life.

It was, he says, “the beginning of the end” of his quest to get an advanced degree.

In the early 1990s, the Tennessee native was newly married, with a newborn, and putting in long hours at a relatively new job. He wanted to get a master’s degree, but shortly after beginning a program at a local university, he quit. “Something eventually had to go, and that something was school,” he explains.

In 2015, however, a scholarship award made it possible for King to enroll at Capella, and he eventually completed a master’s in psychology with a focus on industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology via FlexPath, Capella’s self-paced learning format.

King talks about FlexPath and its benefits for working adults like himself.

 Q. How did you first hear about Capella?

A. In the fall of 2014, I learned that Capella and the organization I work for were partnering to award scholarships to employees. I decided to apply, but I didn’t submit my application until about 3 a.m. on the final date of entry.

I thought I had little chance of being selected out of the numerous individuals who entered.

 Q. But then you got a call?

A. A week or so later, the enrollment counselor at Capella who I’d been working with kept trying to call me. At first, I avoided his calls, assuming that I hadn’t gotten a scholarship. When I finally did pick up, I began by telling him all the reasons why I could not enroll in school right now, that I was rethinking my options.

When I finally stopped long enough for him to speak, he told me, “Stephen, you got the scholarship!” Suddenly, I was back in school!

 Q. What did the FlexPath format allow you to still do while being in school?

A. It allowed me to take care of health issues that arose with my parents, take time for family vacations, and go to school all at the same time. I found that I could travel anywhere that had Internet access and still be able to do schoolwork, check on assessment status, and communicate with my academic support team.

It also allowed me to go to school without cutting corners on my job since there were no defined classroom hours or set deadlines that had to be met.

Q. How vital was the FlexPath format in being able to complete your degree?

A. If I had been in a traditional course structure, I likely would not have completed my degree, or my grades would have suffered.

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Q. Were you able to leverage your experience/knowledge within your courses?  If so, how?

A. Much of the I/O psychology curriculum directly connected with what I was doing at work on a daily basis: conducting departmental assessments, creating presentations to introduce new programs, and consulting with internal clients to determine their needs.

All these activities supported my coursework. I was able to leverage my experience within the courses, and I was able to leverage my learning right away within my job. This was huge for me.

 Q. How has your education and degree impacted your career?

A. I anticipate the program’s real impact will come in the future. With my master’s degree, I feel I am more marketable both internally and externally. I am more thoughtful of research and credible resources when putting together training or proposals, and successfully completing my program has also boosted my confidence.

Learn more about Capella’s master’s in psychology, I/O psychology degree available in GuidedPath and FlexPath learning formats.

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