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Phoenix Forward magazine

Success tips from University of Phoenix students

Whether they’re checking email messages after a long workday, taking kids to after-school activities or squeezing in a workout, these four University of Phoenix® students still manage to make higher education a priority in their already packed schedules.

Here’s how they do it:


Manage time carefully.

A typical day for software engineering student Logan Brade includes working two internships — one in the morning at US Airways and the other in the afternoon at Apollo Education Group — before heading to class at the Phoenix Main Campus. He ends the day by diving into his school assignments at home, often studying well past midnight.

“I find that time management really helps,” Brade says, noting that he uses the Microsoft Outlook® scheduling system at each of his jobs and syncs it to the Google Calendar™ tool on his phone so he can keep track of his work and school commitments. “This leaves me little room for error but also gives me a sense of how much downtime I have in the week,” he says.

Brade plans to graduate this month with his bachelor’s in IT degree. He says he’s happy to accept his grueling schedule and personal sacrifices knowing that the skills and experience he’s gaining will help him achieve his professional goals.

He’s set his sights on a career in project management and software engineering, ideally for a security company. “That would be the trifecta,” he explains.

Rely on family support.

Navy wife Heather Swart knows the definition of busy. Between keeping up with the schedules of two teenage daughters and the needs of a 20-month-old son, the Florida mother also works as a substitute teacher while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Swart’s love of working with kids began in 2007 when she took a position at a YMCA before- and after-school program while her husband was deployed overseas. When researching her education options, she found the University. “I loved how it would accommodate my work style and my family life,” she says. She first earned an associate degree.

After her husband retired in 2011, Swart decided to continue her education. She schedules study time around her son’s naps and one daughter’s volleyball games, and relies on her husband to help out. “I don’t know if I would be able to do it without him,” she admits.

Keeping an eye on her June 2015 graduation date — and, she hopes, a new career — helps her stay motivated. “I know the greatest reward at the end will be to have my degree,” she says. “I can help better my family and have the luxury [of working the same hours that my son] goes to school.”

Stay focused.

No stranger to hard work, Bryant Christensen has held a full-time job since he was 16. A native of Moccasin, Arizona, in the far northern reaches of the state, Christensen worked as a kitchen manager after high school before taking a job as a sous-chef at a resort in Utah to be near family.

Despite having a talent for just about any job in a restaurant, working in someone else’s establishment is “something I don’t want to do for the rest of my life,” he explains. Though he’s currently employed as a kitchen manager in a quick-service restaurant in St. George, Utah, he’s working toward his bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Juggling work and his studies can be challenging, but Christensen’s fueled by his determination. During the busy season in St. George, he may put in 60 to 70 hours per week on the job, and fits in school assignments when he can.

Once he earns his degree, Christensen says, the sky’s the limit on achieving his dreams. “I really want to continue my education and get a master’s,” he emphasizes. Then he just might take the advice of former supervisors, and “use my experience with food and open my own restaurant.”

Maintain passion.

Kim Kvistad has a history of adapting to life’s curveballs. While a police cadet, she sustained injuries in a traffic accident when driving home from work that sidelined her plans to stay in law enforcement. Then, a job in accounting for a cruise line turned into years of sailing around the world working on ships. Later, a stint as a dishwasher evolved into a long run in the culinary industry, including jobs as a sous-chef and a caterer.

Now, Kvistad is ready to transform her life yet again by following her passion for preserving the environment. This time, education is the driver for what’s next. She lives in the Pacific Northwest where she’s pursuing a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.

Because she returned to school at age 49 after a long gap, she says she sometimes relies on the University’s Center for Writing Excellence and Center for Mathematics Excellence to help her review material she may not have seen since high school.

Kvistad says she’s thrilled to have the chance at a new career in environmental sustainability. Her ultimate goal is to help organizations develop environmentally friendly policies, and she hopes to inspire others to preserve the environment. “Once you get [people] involved and excited about something,” she says, “it's amazing what [they] can do.”

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Microsoft Outlook is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Google Calendar is a trademark of Google Inc.