When asked to contribute a blog for Saint Joseph’s University, my first thought was explaining why I chose Saint Joseph’s University to pursue my bachelor’s degree. In order to completely answer that question, I will also have to discuss my pursuit of a certificate in Autism Studies.
I am an older student that returned to finish my bachelor’s degree many years past when it should have been completed. I reside in Arkansas, so I researched some instate programs, but did not find anything that seemed like a good fit for me. I have been employed as a paraprofessional in a self-contained kindergarten/first grade classroom for the last fifteen years of my life. If I was going to take the time to finish my degree, I wanted to be sure that it was something I am passionate about. I narrowed my search by looking online for programs with an emphasis in special education and St. Joseph’s was one of the schools that made the list.
I took a leap of faith and made the call to get more information. The first person with whom I talked was a woman named Ashley. She was so helpful and knowledgeable that I quickly felt at ease. The Autism Studies program that SJU offers turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The program would give me the training that I needed to move forward in my career.
As I went through the application process, everyone at SJU was more than accommodating. I sincerely believed they were committed to helping me succeed any way that they could.
This helpful attitude from the staff continues on to this day. I unexpectedly found myself in a family crisis situation and was going to lay out of the second eight-week course in my first semester. Alexa, the Student Services Coordinator, talked with me about other options I could consider. She helped me realize that with a minor adjustment, I could keep pursuing a degree while taking care of my family’s needs. Alexa put me into a less stressful class for that semester so that I could have some time to resolve my family issues. I am forever grateful to her for that advice. By following her recommendation, I did not have to stop pursuing my education. If I had quit at that point, I might not be writing this blog.
Advice to students
It is sometimes hard to understand the importance of higher education when you are young. I wish that I had been more focused earlier in my life, but I believe everything happens for a reason.
My advice to students who are enrolling in SJU is to take this opportunity seriously. It will never be easier for you to complete your education than it is right now. Don’t be afraid to try classes that focus on new areas. That is the only way you can find out what you enjoy. Don’t shy away from programs that may take longer than four years to complete. You will be working for many years after you graduate. Six to eight years is no time to give, if your reward is a career that you love.
Thanks for reading and good luck in your educational pursuits.