‘It’s going to be a very big milestone’

April 13, 2023

NDSU offers flexibility and support for students looking to return to college and earn a degree.

Kayla Carlson is a successful example of a student who returned to higher education at NDSU and reached her personal academic goals with help and guidance from the degree completion program.

She came to NDSU in 2021 to spark career growth and show her kids the value of getting a degree. She earned an associate degree from North Dakota State College of Science in 2014 and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in university studies with a minor in business administration at NDSU.

The degree completion program makes it easier for returning students to come back and finish. Students work with an advisor to come up with a plan to complete their original degree or something different. Courses can be taken online or on campus, depending on preference and availability.

Carlson chose her major because it fit with her career, but also allowed her to be fully online. She found NDSU to be very helpful as she transitioned back into school.

“My advisor showed me options that would allow me to balance family, school and a career and still have success in all those areas,” said the senior from Fargo, North Dakota. “As I progressed and got used to balancing my time and responsibilities, we made it a bit more challenging. I was motivated to finish.”

Taking courses online can make going back to school more accessible with flexibility and options to work with a busy schedule.

“I do my schoolwork wherever I need to – early mornings in my home office, in the car between kids’ activities or on the couch while hanging out with my family,” Carlson said.

Communication tools available through online classes allow her to stay connected and collaborate with other students. She’s made connections with people at NDSU that she feels will be beneficial in the future.

Carlson says she’s had a very positive experience with NDSU faculty. They make sure she has the support she needs, Carlson said.

“Once a few professors realized I was fully online and had a career, they reached out and offered different ways to do assignments or tailored them more to my needs,” she said.

In addition to supportive faculty, Carlson is encouraged by her husband and kids. Her employer also is very accommodating when she needs to take time off for finals and other academic priorities.

Carlson wants to grow her leadership skills and advance in her career. Having a university studies degree will allow her to do that faster, she said. The NDSU university studies degree does not include a designated major. In the program, a student creates an area or areas of emphasis that will help accomplish their goals. University studies allows flexibility in designing a degree, helping students achieve success in a way that’s best suited to them.

Carlson’s classroom experience has enhanced how she works in her current job as a project manager.

“My education has allowed me to build in areas of my career and life that I didn’t know I needed to, like learning how to understand people better and collaborate with different groups of people,” Carlson said.

Carlson also has benefited from the help of the Career and Advising Center and other NDSU student resources. The tools she’s gained while working with the Career and Advising Center for her coursework also have been useful in her job.

“By choosing NDSU, you get a great community behind you, faculty that is supportive of you and something that you’re going to be a part of long after you’re done with your degree,” she said. “I will feel so excited when I get my diploma this spring. To be able to say that I did it while having my two kids watch me is going to be a very big milestone for me.”

Reach out today to see how easy it could be to earn your degree at NDSU.

To learn more about Kayla’s experience, visit the official university YouTube channel.