Skip Navigation

News & Events: Frederick Campus

A lot may have changed since you began your college career. Now you’re looking to complete an unfinished undergraduate degree or begin a graduate degree. Many adult learners face similar fears about returning to the classroom after years, possibly many years, away. If you find yourself worrying about the following, you’re not alone!

  1. “I don’t know which school is right for me.” Finding the right program is easier than ever. Resources abound online, where you can combine school rankings, social media communities, and online reviews to paint a picture of the pros and cons of each option. The majority of adult learners take a year or more to determine when and where to get their education – don’t let the selection process discourage you.
  2. “I don’t have enough time for school.” Taking your time is key to balancing work, life, and school. How long it takes to complete your degree will differ depending on variables like format, prerequisites, and transferrable credits. More and more schools are offering courses online or in the evenings in order to cater to the convenience of working adults.  
  3. “I can’t afford it.” With the cost of college on the rise, you may be asking yourself, Can I afford to go back? However, the question you might want to consider instead is, Can I afford not to go back? According to The Pew Research Center, college graduates outpace students with some college or a two-year degree by $15,000 each year. The gap widens for those with a graduate degree. Your short-term investment will have long-term payoffs.
  4. “I’ll be the oldest student in class.” When it comes to the classroom, age is an asset – your professional experiences enhance your education. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the adult student population is growing. More than 38 percent of students are over the age of 25 – a percentage predicted to increase by an additional 23 percent by 2019.

The right school for you will have the resources to help you work through any worries or reservations you may have about going back. Conquer your fears one step at a time and you’ll be off to a great start!

You’ve spent years honing the professional skills you need on the job daily. As a student, many of these skills and career experiences will add to your education as you pursue an advanced degree. However, it’s possible that while developing professional proficiencies, you may have stepped away from some of the skills you will need to succeed in the classroom. Before you go back to school, prepare yourself in the following five ways.

  1. Writing. The writing expectations placed upon students are likely different from much of the writing you draft throughout the workday. Brush up on the formal rules and styles you will need to craft papers and assignments.
  2. Study, Reading, and Research. Study and reading habits are essential tools to sharpen for after hours homework and assignments. Many programs offer various required and recommended work, so be sure to know how to read, study, and research smarter by evaluating the topic as a whole and allocating your time on certain areas.
  3. Technology. Not only has technology revolutionized the way students conduct research, but it also changed the way papers, documents, and presentations are created, as well as how students collaborate, and teachers disseminate information. Know the latest technology trends and be prepared to learn to adapt them into your learning habits.
  4. Goal Setting. In a prior blog post, we discuss how to follow through with the goals you set for yourself. In short, make sure you’re setting reasonable, frequent goals.
  5. Prioritization. As an adult student, you’ll soon realize that demands of your time will abound. Explore ways to prioritize school, work, and life to best optimize your time. 

When you consider the right college or university for you, make sure to investigate what resources are available to students. Many programs offer access to prerequisite courses or learning services that can help you succeed. It’s also important to find a program that emphasizes the unique needs of the adult learner, lead by faculty and staff with the ability to assist you. 

In January we talked about the Top 10 Considerations to Find the Best Program For You. This month we’re following up with more information about one concern in particular – time. Program directors and academic advisors at the Mount are often asked how long it will take to complete a graduate or adult undergraduate degree. While the answer is different for everyone, the following five points are often indicators.

  1. Program format. Some programs run as cohorts, meaning you begin and end the program with the same group of students, progressing through courses together. These programs have specific start and end dates.
  2. Prerequisites. In order to complete certain courses, undergraduate prerequisites may be required. If you already earned these prerequisites prior to beginning the program, you will progress quicker.
  3. Transferrable credits. Similar to prerequisites, if you are transferring credits from another institution, you will be able to start out ahead. You can also explore whether your institution offers credit for prior experience that could be applicable toward your degree.
  4. Other responsibilities. Depending on the program, you may also have to complete an internship, research, thesis, or other requirement for graduation. Factoring in time to complete this is essential when considering your overall timeline.
  5. Alternatives. Instead of earning a degree, there may be a certificate program or series of courses you can enroll in that will provide the specific skills and knowledge that you need to advance your career.

Your education plan can be individual and flexible, which is beneficial as you balance coursework with work and life responsibilities. While there are many considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right program for you, always consider how the timing fits into your long and short term plans. 

Last month’s article, 5 Things you Need to Know About Funding Your Grad Degree, briefly addressed employer tuition assistance (ETA) as a solution to finance your education. Whether you’re completing an undergraduate degree or earning a graduate degree or certificate, ETA could significantly decrease or eliminate the cost.

When approaching the topic with your employer, lead with information about how your education will ultimately benefit the company. In short, better skilled managers who know the organization from the bottom up will make for a better organization. Before discussing ETA with your employer, prepare for the following:

  1. Find the right fit. Research and select the best option to fit your own career needs, as well as the organization’s needs. Decide whether a single class, certificate program, or degree program is the most direct and effective route to develop the knowledge and skills you need to move yourself and your organization forward. To help you select the right program or school, check out the Top 10 Considerations to Find the Right Program For You.
  2. Know the program. Once you select a program, outline exactly how the coursework aligns with your job responsibilities. Employers will want to see that your time spent in class will directly correlate to your work on the job.
  3. Compromise. Be prepared to discuss multiple options for tuition assistance if your employer seems hesitant about full remission or reimbursement. One option is to split the cost. Another is to be reimbursed based on grades, so that your employer sees you are excelling in the program before paying your way. Go in with alternatives in mind so you can make a case for compromise.

If your organization does not have an ETA policy in place, become a policy shaper! Your initiative will demonstrate your commitment to your personal growth as well as your investment in the well being of the organization.

ASL Inductees

The Alpha Sigma Lambda, Sigma Mu Chapter of Mount St. Mary’s University invited 15 new members into the honorary last week. Four new members and their families attended a ceremony at the Frederick Campus on Sunday to celebrate this prestigious achievement.

Alpha Sigma Lambda recognizes the adult learner who balances family, work, and school. A student invited into the honorary must have a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Students also must complete 24 graded semester hours at Mount St. Mary’s, and be in the top 10 percent of their class.

Dr. Tim Wolfe gave the keynote address on finding happiness and meaning in life, and the role education plays in that meaning.

“Research findings make clear that having a sense of purpose or meaning in one’s life, particularly in the work we do, is one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction," said Dr. Wolfe. "A Mount education is designed, among other things, to help us find our calling or our purpose in this life. I urge you to reflect carefully on your calling so that you may help others and also increase your personal happiness.”

Certificates, cords, and pins were awarded to each new chapter member.

Pictured above (L to R): Marina Golub, Cynthia Kokoski, Karen Butters, John Jefferson

Former Chief of Police, Thomas J. Ledwell, will join the Mount’s criminal justice program faculty, bringing new ideas and experiences to the table. He will be teaching classes such as Law Enforcement Leadership and Intelligence in the adult Criminal Justice Program, starting in the fall of 2015.

Ledwell, a twenty-two year veteran of the Frederick Police Department, has held many positions in the force, including patrol officer, narcotics detective and supervisor, patrol squad supervisor, patrol division commander, special operations division commander, operations bureau commander and chief of police.

In addition to his various positions in the force, he was certified through the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Commission as both a general instructor and a defensive tactics instructor. He also taught subjects in the Frederick Police Academy, ranging from search and seizure, to crime analysis and crime reduction strategies, to ground fighting.

“He is not someone who has just read the books,” said Professor Joe Vince, director of the criminal justice programs for adult and traditional students. “He knows of the nitty-gritty issues and best practices that chiefs deal with on a daily basis.”

Ledwell spearheaded a number of department programs and projects, including development of the agency’s data-driven crime reduction strategy and problem-solving systems. A new initiative that he would like to work on bringing to the Mount would be a Police Chief Think Tank, where students could help solve real world problems alongside members of various police forces. A search for corporate sponsorship for the program has begun, and it could open new doors to internships and learning experiences for students.

“Chief Ledwell is very humble and dynamic in inspiring people to work for him,” Vince stated. “People gravitate towards his leadership style.”

A graduate education can advance your career to the next level, and it can be a hefty investment that demands a return. In the long-term, the value outweighs the initial cost, however there are ways to make graduate school a more viable and affordable option. Navigating the financial aid realm as a prospective graduate student is much easier than you may think if you know where to start.

  • File a FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, is available online and can be filed each academic year. It’s quicker and simpler than you may think! As a grad student, you don’t have to complete parental information, and the results are usually sent to the universities you specify within a week.
  • Sign up for all of your classes. By signing up for all of your classes prior to each semester, you’ll make your financial aid and billing much simpler. You can still add or drop classes during the semester, but keep in mind that it generates a revised award letter with new loan amounts and a new billing statement, which may be confusing.
  • Explore alternatives to federal aid. Financial aid and scholarships for graduate students can be difficult to find, but options are available, such as:
    • Outside aid, like company sponsored scholarships, Maryland State Grants, or Legislative Scholarships.
    • Tuition reimbursement or remission from your employer. If you’re studying in a field related to your career, your work may fund classes for professional development.
    • Graduate assistantships allow you to earn your degree while working for the university.
    • Lifetime Learning tax credits can give you a break on your annual taxes.
  • Minimize borrowing. If you don’t need all of your federal loan entitlement, don’t use it! Graduate students are eligible to borrow up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans each year to be used toward tuition, books, and other supplies. However, only borrow what you absolutely need. In the long run, this can save you a lot of money in loan payments and interest.
  • Defer undergraduate loans. If you borrowed for your undergraduate education, your loans are deferred when your graduate school enrollment is automatically reported to your lenders. To help you keep track of all your federal loans and your servicers, create an account on the National Student Loan Database.

As you prepare for your next educational endeavor, carefully consider how your finances factor into the equation. Make the best short-term and long-term investment decisions that will help you achieve your desired career outcome. Good luck!

16300 Old Emmitsburg Road | Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Map & Directions | | 301-447-6122
Frederick Campus | 5350 Spectrum Drive | Frederick, MD 21703
Map & Directions | | 301-682-8315