Support system helps keep Ecampus business student moving forward
By Heather Doherty
March 20, 2017
Todd Van Hess found himself in a predicament a few years back: He had served in a management position at a large cable company near Portland, Oregon, for more than a decade, but he didn’t have the opportunity to move up any further without a college education.
Well, that’s what a new CEO had said.
He could settle and stay in his current position or he could do something about it.
He decided to do something about it.
“This is something that you can show a commitment to. You can show that you finished it. You can show that you excelled at it, and I think that’s what employers are looking for,” Todd says.
Despite being away from the classroom for more than a decade, Todd took a leap of faith and enrolled in Portland Community College to get his start.
He knew he ultimately wanted a bachelor’s degree in business because that’s what made sense for his future job outlook, he says. So he looked further into his options.
He discovered that Oregon State University offers a business administration degree online that directly aligned with his career aspirations and family lifestyle. And it didn’t hurt that he was already a huge Beaver fan, football season ticket holder and, not to mention, his parents had met at OSU years ago.
Together, they created a plan and he enrolled in the OSU Degree Partnership Program.
“It was a great program. All my credits transferred automatically,” he says. “I was able to make sure that I was working efficiently in all my school work and everything I was doing was going right toward my bachelor’s degree instead of taking classes I didn’t need.”
Now a full-time student pursuing a business administration degree delivered online by Oregon State Ecampus, Todd says the flexibility is key.
“Learning online fits into my life’s demands,” he says. “It allows me to spend time with the family, go to work and take the dog for a walk because I’m not sitting in a lecture class. It allows me to attain the same goals without uprooting everyone’s life that we had established already.”
And he says what he’s learning in class is already making him a better employee – and in turn, a better prospective leader in the future.
“I learn something new every term. I thought I knew all of the answers, but the course work definitely sheds a lot of light on some of the bigger picture items.”
“I learn something new every term,” he says. “I thought I knew all of the answers, but the course work definitely sheds a lot of light on some of the bigger picture items.”
Todd says he now understands the theory behind his company’s business decisions, the terminology to explain the theory, and he’s learning to make business plans to improve future processes.
So when his company’s CEO left and it was no longer required to have a bachelor’s degree to earn a promotion, Todd found himself in another predicament.
He could drop out of school or continue on his higher education path and set a precedent for his children. He chose the latter.
“I wanted to set an example that if their dad could do it, so could they,” he says. “I know I want my children to go to college and in the future, they’ll need to go to college, so how can I preach that to them without a college degree?”
And with a full-time job, full-time course load and full-time family responsibilities, Todd says his support system is what keeps him motivated to continue moving forward day after day.
“My wife is behind me 100 percent. My parents are behind me 100 percent. I went back to school and my mom’s like, ‘I’ll buy your books.’ I’m in my mid-30s and my mom’s buying my books. It’s rad,” he says.
“My boss, my boss’ boss, his boss’ boss asks me how my degree is going. Everyone is really supportive. Everyone thinks it’s important. I’m really lucky.”