By the time someone has reached the executive ranks, it would seem that they’ve done everything they needed to do in terms of education.

But that’s not always the case. Today, many executives are going back to school for bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Several Capella University students and recent graduates share why they chose to return to school – online.


1. A Need to Stay Competitive

Coni Pasch*, a Fortune 500 IT executive, found that she needed to continue her education in order to advance further in her career.

*Actual FlexPath student who is compensated for appearing on this page.

“I reached a point in my career where I was really excited about looking at that next opportunity,” Pasch says. “I had been approached by another group within my organization and one of the first pieces of feedback after they reviewed my resume was, ‘Sorry, we can’t even talk to you unless you at least have an undergraduate degree.’ That was the defining moment for me that sent me back to college.”

At the age of 50, Pasch returned to school for her bachelor’s degree via FlexPath, Capella’s self-paced learning format, which she chose because it would help her balance family, career, and education. Although it was intimidating to return to school at first, the format worked so well for her that she’s now earning her MBA in order to help her pursue even higher-level positions.

2. A Quest for Further Knowledge

Kathy Council* has worked in the data and analytics field for 40 years, making a career at industry giant SAS. She eventually became a vice president at the company. But achieving that level of success didn’t make Council complacent.

*Actual Capella student who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella.

She was motivated to get her MBA to further her knowledge, even beyond the business acumen that she gained through her tenured career. However, she had some concerns about pursuing an MBA.

“I’d always considered going back to school for an MBA, but most programs seemed too theoretical,” Council says. “Capella’s approach seemed different.”

Once enrolled, she experienced how Capella’s program was giving her the kind of education she wanted. “I’m learning way more about aspects of business that I was only slightly involved in,” she says. “The things I’m learning are helping me gain a higher-level, bigger-picture understanding. I’m benefiting greatly from all this new information.”

3. The Flexibility of Online Learning

People who are already in the workforce have unique constraints when it comes to pursuing additional education, especially those with executive-level careers. Billy Parsons* found himself at a crossroads when he became the COO and Director of Human Resources for a small Texas hospital and then learned the hospital was going to close. He wanted to stay at the executive level, but as he began his job search, he realized that his bachelor’s degree alone was not going to be enough.

*Actual Capella student who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella.

In the meantime, he was promoted to interim CEO to oversee the hospital’s closing, a complex, demanding process. The thought of adding a rigorous academic program to that was worrying.

“I cannot tell you how many programs I looked into before I started this one!” he says. “I checked out programs online and brick-and-mortar and hybrids. But I just wasn’t sure which one was right for me. I knew juggling school, work, and family was going to be a major challenge.”

When he found Capella’s FlexPath, it fit like a glove. “The biggest benefit of this program is that I got to set my own timeline,” he says.

Once he’d completed the hospital transition and his MBA, Parsons received an offer to become the Vice President of Human Resources for a medical organization in Dallas. “My MBA was a major part of this opportunity,” he says. “I would not have received an interview, much less a job offer, without it.”

4. A Desire to Achieve a Personal Goal

Rodney Showmar* had already reached a COO position by 2013 and wanted to make the transition to CEO. As he began researching open positions in his industry, he found that many required at least an MBA to make the leap to chief executive.

*Actual Capella student who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella.

It had been many years since he’d completed his bachelor’s degree, and he wasn’t sure how he would manage going back into an academic environment. But the goal of moving to the CEO position drove him to enroll in Capella’s MBA program via FlexPath, and before long, not only was he succeeding academically, he was enjoying the experience.

“One of the great things about FlexPath is that you can take what you’ve learned in your career and apply it to the program,” Showmar says. “You can also take information that you learned from the program and apply it to your everyday life.”

Today, Showmar has been promoted to President and CEO of his organization—a goal he is proud of reaching, and one he knows would have been hard to reach without his MBA.

Whether pursuing a degree moves someone up the corporate ladder or gives them tools to be more effective in their current work, earning a degree is a great achievement.

Learn more about FlexPath.

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