Bachelor’s Degree Caps Years of IT Career Experience

Leads Graduate to Appealing New Job Options

As a college student years ago, Brian Shellhaas pursued a path in psychology—only to realize that his true passion lay elsewhere. “It wasn’t the route I wanted to go,” he says. He switched gears and entered the IT field, where he enjoyed a steady career despite lacking a degree in the subject.

Changing times, however, made him reconsider his education. “My employer was heading into bankruptcy and I knew it was only a matter of time until I was forced to reenter the job market,” he says. “Given the state of the economy, I knew that the competition for the top jobs was going to be fierce and having a degree would be a certain bonus.”

As he researched online degree programs, reputation and accreditation were foremost among his concerns. He also looked for affordability—as he points out, “I had already paid for four years of college.” American Sentinel proved the ideal match, culminating in Brian’s Bachelor of Science Information Technology program.

Success Through Support

One of Brian’s biggest learning curves came not from his course work, but rather from student life. “Managing professional, social and higher education demands was, at times, a lesson in itself,” he says. “All of the staff at American Sentinel was really supportive and understanding about my thoughts and feelings, while being very honest about what to expect. My family and friends, as well as my employer, were also terrific in their understanding and support.”

A straightforward, pragmatic approach helped him strike the right balance between school, his job, and his personal life. “I learned to be honest with myself and [others] about my workload,” Brian says. “I was incredibly fortunate in that those around me were just as invested in my success as I was. In a very short time I was able to find a groove, understand my limits, and move forward.”

He also takes pride in the fact that American Sentinel’s flexibility allowed him to maintain high grades without losing ground at work or at home. “I didn’t ever really feel that I had to sacrifice anything to make it happen,” he says.

Both the steady pace and targeted learning of his American Sentinel classes appealed to Brian. “It’s awesome to be able to work through [the course] in eight weeks and remember everything that you worked on,” he says. “The classes that I took were very concentrated on the important things. Each class had a purpose and a goal and you went along that path.”

Creating New Choices

Just as he’d anticipated, Brian’s American Sentinel experience gave him a significant boost when it was time to search for a new position. “[I was able] to complete a job search that ended with multiple offers for positions that I was truly excited about,” he says. “There is no doubt that having my degree was a strong competitive edge and strengthened my position during salary and benefit negotiations.”

From his perspective, the process of earning a degree is as worthwhile as the outcome. “I think it’s hard to overstate the value from the obvious benefit of stronger skills and greater knowledge,” he says. “I think everyone has a good capacity to learn and using that capacity makes people more confident, collected and willing to take on challenging tasks. At the very least, having gone through the process of engaging in higher education helps to teach one how to prioritize and work more effectively.”

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