adult learner, Advice, Community College, Education, Online

What do Journalism, Horticulture, Criminal Justice, and Social Work have in common? All steps in my path to a career in Early Childhood Education!

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Emily Klein shares her tips for a career in Early Childhood Education

Emily Klein

Master’s in Early Childhood Education

College is hard. Going to college and having a full-time job is even harder. Going to college, having a full-time job, and taking care of a family member is even more challenging. These are all challenges college students face on the daily, and while some may take it in stride, others might struggle. What many people don’t know is that I take care of my disabled mother and with that comes helping to pay the bills. Taking care of a disabled family member has always been a major factor in my career choices.

Growing up, I was never a great student, and I struggled a lot in math, especially. While I really wanted to be a teacher, my math skills held me back. Because of my poor math skills I knew there was no way I was going to pass the math portion of the CBEST or the CSET. I also knew that I couldn’t give up the full-time job I had to do student teaching for free – taking time away from my work schedule was not an option, as I helped support my mother. But what career would I do, and how would I get it done AND work full-time at the same time? After much thought I turned to writing, but, after a year of journalism classes, I slowly started to realize that this wasn’t the right career path for me. I changed my major to ornamental horticulture, but this wasn’t the right fit either. Four years later I finally graduated with a double major associate degree in Journalism and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

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Math- Never my strong suit.

After wasting four years in community college, struggling to pay the bills, taking care of my mom, and trying figure out my future, I finally enrolled in a degree completion program in early childhood education. I decided to pursue ECE because in the end my math struggles kept me from passing the CBEST. Before my third attempt at taking the test I decided to let it go and give it to God. I said if I didn’t pass it the third time around then being a credentialed teacher wasn’t in the cards for me and I was made to do something greater. My greater would end up being early childhood education.  At this point I just wanted to hurry up and finish my education so that I could have a better future. Completing my bachelor’s degree was a struggle – I slowly realized that I was in the big leagues and this wasn’t community college anymore. Two years later I would walk across the stage with my gold cords around my neck and the highest Latin honor, summa cum laude, printed on my bachelor’s diploma.

After I finished my bachelor’s degree I got my dream job as an early childhood educator at a great school and couldn’t have been happier. However, two years into my career I hit a plateau and found that I wanted more in life and out of my career. I was tired of always settling for less and wanted to make a greater impact on those around me. I had this feeling that I was called to do greater things but was not able to figure it out what it was that I was called to do. So I did the only thing I knew how to do and went back to school. I enrolled at the local community college and started taking classes in criminal justice thinking that I wanted to be a police detective. After a less-than-thrilling semester in the world of criminal justice, I decided to keep on the search and take classes in a different field this time – social work. I enjoyed the social work classes but realized that I didn’t have the heart to take away children from their families or put myself in danger every time I entered the home of a stranger to take away said children.

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We all wish the path forward were this clear.

Although I gained a lot of valuable information from the class, I didn’t want to be a social worker. At the same time I was taking the social working class I was also taking administration classes for ECE. One day I was sitting in class talking to a peer when out of nowhere a lightbulb went off. I FINALLY realized what it was that I was called to do: Be a college professor. I spent most of my early adult years in community college, so why not get my master’s degree and come back and teach at the very same school where I started my college education? However, the thought of more debt crippled me, but I knew I would never make it to my goal of being a college professor and early childhood education mentor without a master’s degree, so I pulled the band aid off and went for it.

I wanted a program that I could do at home and at my own pace; I also knew I didn’t want to wait two extra years to finish a program. National’s unique online platform allowed me to finish my master’s in a year, from home, all while keeping my dream job and taking care of my mom. I would no longer have to sit in three-hour classes every night, get home late, and stay up even later to do homework. Being selected to become a part of the NU Scholars Program was a huge honor and a huge relief, and I am excited to be part of an organization that gives back to the community.

No matter how many challenges life threw at me, I continued with my education because I wanted a better life for myself and for my future family. It may have taken me longer than I wanted or planned, but I persevered. I wanted to have a positive impact not only on children, but on adults as well, and this was the only way I knew how to do it. I wanted to have a life that I was proud of; and I am now truly proud to be one step closer to my goal of being a college professor. College is hard. Life is hard. But with strength and determination you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. No matter what was thrown at me I persevered, and you can, too. Don’t let the negatives of life and the pressures of family consume you. Stay focused and stay committed. You may think the odds are against you, but you, too, can rise against them.

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Take the leap!
adult learner, Community College, Parents, Transfer

The Transfer Experience

By Jiaunna Arnell, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education

I was lucky that my transfer experience from Miramar College (a community college) to National University was fairly smooth.  As a student who has successfully completed this transition, I wanted to share a little bit about what I think helped me.

Someone once told me that “C’s get degrees.” However, my mother, along with folks from institutions that I was engaged with in my youth, made it clear that I needed to always do my very best. I been never been the type of student who can comfortably rest on just getting by, and I think that this commitment to going the extra mile has helped me to succeed. While I was a community college student, I also took advantage of EOPS and CalWORKs, two state-funded programs that helped me to create personalized education plans based on my goals, progress, and major.

My counselor at Miramar College was a huge source of support. From the moment I set foot in her office, she made me feel appreciated and valuable to the Miramar College student family. She also reminded me about events like transfer fairs, where various institutions come out to present for their respective universities. Especially if you have an idea of the university that you plan to attend, keeping in the know regarding changes or opportunities at your university of choice is very important, and deciding which one you want to attend long before you plan to transfer is really helpful.

Researching the university of your choice, taking tours, and visiting the campus are all good ways to decide whether or not it is right for you. Once you have chosen a university, this makes the rest of the process fairly simple, because you know exactly what you need to get into that particular university.

My mother is an alumnus of National University, and has a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, so I knew that National University was going to be my four-year university from the start.

Once all of these elements—determination, support, and a target university—are in place, the real work comes in maintaining your grades, building good relationships with faculty (who can help you by writing letters of reference and by offering support), looking into grants and scholarships to lighten the financial load, and, above all, making the commitment to focus on school first: School has to be your top priority in every way possible. I love Miramar College and I am so glad that I was a student there, and I am also so excited to be at National University. For people who have to balance being parents and students with working full time, National University is a god-send for expanding our academic horizons in relation to our lifestyles, responsibilities, and career goals. I love being a part of the National University family, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this experience brings to my academic and professional growth.