At age 50, Coni Pasch* applied for a job and was told that she wouldn’t be considered for the position.

Her 20 years of experience wasn’t enough. The thing she needed to get a foot in the door was a degree—something she had always wanted but never completed.

In 2015, Pasch earned her Bachelor of Science in Management and Leadership via FlexPath, Capella University’s self-paced learning format. Today, Pasch serves as a Vice President of Global Technology for a Fortune 500 company in Minneapolis. “In the end, I realized the only thing standing in the way of my degree was me,” she says.

Recently, Pasch returned to Capella to pursue an MBA. She’s been keeping a journal to track her highs and lows as she juggles work, family, and other activities with courses and assessments. Here’s a look at how she’s reintroducing learning into her daily routine.

*Coni is an actual Capella graduate who agreed to be profiled for this story.

January 1, 2017: First Course

Time to plan my schedule and jump back into this routine called school! I can’t believe how nervous I am. I scroll through the assessments, review the syllabus, and read the notes from the instructor. I see that a student group meeting has been set up for a quick orientation.

This is a busy week for me as I have only four days to get started before I leave
on a cruise! I haven’t packed yet for my trip, so I’m stressed. The noise in my head is relentless. I can feel the chaos. Even as I read the first assessment, questions are piling up in my brain.

Being in school is going to take some time to get used to. It’s been two years since I finished my bachelor’s and getting back in the saddle isn’t going to be as easy as I expected. I take 30 minutes or so to review the assessments and determine my schedule. My goal is to complete three classes every 12-week session, so I block time on my calendar to ensure that I can actually be successful.

I’m overwhelmed for a moment, but I then realize I’m more excited than panicked. I can do this! It’s time to focus and see how far I can get.

January 31, 2017:  First Course Complete

Just hit SEND on the last assignment! What a feeling of accomplishment! My goal was to polish off one course per month: Done! It took me a bit of time to relearn the tools, find the library, and navigate the submission process, but overall I managed just fine.

Now on to the second course. Only 15 more to go!

February 17, 2017: Another Win

Yea! Finished my second course in 17 days.

What a busy couple of weeks. A new role at work has me putting in more than 60 hours a week, leaving me with not much time to squeeze in my coursework. This pace is going to continue until the middle of March, though, so I’ll have to pace myself. Burnout is not an option.

February 20, 2017: Beginning a Course I Dread

I’m not excited to be starting a course in Financial Accounting, as required for my degree. Math has never really been in my wheelhouse, especially accounting. I might have to engage with a FlexPath tutor or two to help me over the hump or ask a friend (an accounting major) if she has some time to tutor me again during my master’s.

But I know I can do this: I submitted my first assessment over the weekend, and when I logged on a few days later, I noticed it had been graded: “Distinguished” on all the sections! OMG!!! I am so excited and relieved.

February 27, 2017: Surprising Myself

Been at the accounting course for a week now, and have surprised myself! While I really, really, don’t like math courses, I am really cruising! It’s amazing how much knowledge I’ve retained from my bachelor’s and how much more I am learning. I think a positive mental focus has been a huge help.

While I feel like I am spending so much time on each assessment to understand the concepts and get things correct—scribbling on paper all over the place, dreaming of numbers in my sleep, and actually coming up with an answer in the middle of the night!—I am making great progress. Only four more assessments to go. Fingers crossed!

March 10, 2017: Another Milestone Complete—Onward!

Finished Financial Accounting! The course was brutal, but I did it, with the help of a dear friend who has a financing background. She spent several sessions tutoring me over the phone and in person.

After this class, though I’ve decided to add another item to my list of goals: I need down time. My job has been extremely demanding lately, with 10-hour days and working every weekend. Finding time for homework has been challenging, and my sleep has suffered. I am tired.

I need to take care of myself, so I’m allowing myself a couple of days off to relax before I start my next course. Balancing life and learning is challenging, but definitely possible, as I’m discovering. Having time to mentally and physically recharge is important. But with a little more sleep and strength, I’ll be ready to get back to FlexPath, learning what I need to know to tackle my next promotion or professional goal.

You can keep following me on my MBA journey, and tweet #FlexPath to ask me about my FlexPath experience.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.
These entries reflect Coni’s experience with FlexPath. Your own experiences and results may vary. Your FlexPath outcomes may be affected by numerous factors, including the time you have to devote to coursework, how quickly you complete assessments, whether you take breaks during your program, and how many courses you chose to enroll in each billing session.