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Adults Earning Degrees

adults earning degrees
Krystol Braughton, August 2021 graduate

When most people think of college, they imagine a fresh-faced 18-year-old leaving high school and jumping directly onto a university campus. Cleary University has hundreds of what we call “traditional undergrads” that fit this description – but they are only a part of our student population.

In fact, at Cleary, we welcome far more adult undergrads and graduate students who are beginning college or returning to it after working, serving in the military or seeing the world. Sometimes it’s a combination of all three!

There are many reasons adults pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees, but the biggest by far is that doing so drastically increases their earning potential over their lifetime.

In fact, students who earn a college degree stand to make $500,000 more in their lifetime than those who only attain a high school diploma. Those who continue on to earn a master’s degree will earn more than $1 million more than their peers who only completed high school.

That’s the value of a college degree – one, among many including better health, more educated offspring, an improved economic outlook, easier transitions between industries, more involvement in community and politics and more impact as voters.

Plus, there’s a sense of personal accomplishment that is priceless.

Krystol Braughton with her sons at 2021 commencement

Krystol Braughton came to Cleary when her company, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, a medical device manufacturer, went corporate and insisted that it was important for employees to have college degrees. Braughton had taken classes over the years, but never completed a degree. She graduated from Cleary with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in August.

The 39-year-old mother of two teens lives in Mason, Michigan. She says the prior learning assessment, or PLA, that Cleary offers – which determines how many credits you can transfer from prior coursework, professional certifications and workplace experiences – gave her 21 credits toward her degree, which ended up taking just a year and a half.

“That is the coolest and most beneficial thing that I’ve done,” she says. “I have knowledge because I do this every day.”

Braughton also liked that Cleary online degree programs are self-paced, which helped her to balance work and family while earning her degree.

“I work full-time, my kids are busy, I’m a single mom, I take them to all their practices and games and to school,” she says. “I have to make dinner, and there are projects at work that I have to do. I don’t have a lot of time to sit in lectures.”

“It was a lot of work – I’m not saying it’s easy – but it’s totally worth it for people who just don’t have the time, and have the experience.”

Chew Boey, a soon-to-be MBA graduate from Cleary University who works for TEAM Schostak

Chew Boey also liked the flexibility of Cleary’s programs for adult students. Born in Malaysia, Boey earned an accounting degree in Australia before coming to the United States. He worked part-time in a restaurant and ended up building a career in hospitality. He now works at TEAM Schostak family restaurant group as a training general manager.

When TEAM Schostak partnered with Cleary to offer free tuition for its employees, Boey saw it as a great opportunity to earn an MBA, which he began in January 2020. He has one class left until he graduates.

“I wanted to expand on my knowledge,” says Boey, who is now an adjunct professor at Cleary, teaching hospitality management classes.

“I was apprehensive since I last sat in a college classroom about 30 years ago,” he admits. “I wasn’t sure if I was capable of doing that again, but I had to give it a shot. It was a redemption for me, because I didn’t really apply myself when I was in college. I was having way too much fun doing all the things college students do and basically scraped by with a 3.0 GPA. This was an opportunity to redeem myself.”

Boey liked that MBA classes were 100% online, and the schedule is flexible. “It was just a matter of me using my time management skills to balance work, personal life, and MBA. It has been a fascinating journey. Thirty years out of school, you have to oil your brain again to write papers and participate in discussion groups. It’s been a good journey for me.”

He says the MBA program helped him develop his leadership skills. Concentrating in strategic leadership, he says, “I’ll be ready for disruption in the workplace such as a pandemic.”

“You reap what you sow in terms of how much you put into it,” he notes. “You have students from all walks of life, some younger, some traditional MBA-age, and then some non-traditionalists like me, people from different industries, too. My classmates came from the airline industry, oil fields, physical therapy, sharing different ways and means of applying what we learned.”

Undergraduate and graduate online programs begin every eight weeks and are entirely online. Learn more or apply here.