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A day in the life of a UOPX student 

The idea of going back to school as an adult can sound good in theory but difficult to visualize. When do you go to class if you have a job or kids or both? Can you still learn if it’s been a decade since you last saw a classroom? How do you fit in the reading? When and where do you complete group projects? Will you ever sleep again?

The answers to those questions depend on where you go to school and what else you have going on in your life. But as these three University of Phoenix (UOPX) alumni prove, it is possible. And you don’t have to give up sleep forever.

University of Phoenix makes the journey through higher education a little easier. Designed for working adult students, the University offers asynchronous learning, so you can attend class on your schedule, whether that’s your lunch hour or the midnight hour. Courses are skills aligned, meaning students have visibility to the skills they’re learning as they learn them. Resources, from writing and math guidance to career advisement, are available to students as they progress through their programs.

All of that makes going back to school as an adult a little easier. But how does it look day to day? As the following three UOPX alumni prove, it is what you make it. 

Explore more than 100 online programs aligned to 300+ real-world careers. 

Kristy Baron

Kristy Baron, Director of DevSecOps Retail and Care Platforms, UScellular

Bachelor of Science in Management (2018) and Master of Business Administration (in progress)


Kristy Baron knew she would need to go back to school if she were going to meet her career goals. But she would need to do it while raising two kids with her husband and holding down a full-time job. She’s since moved to Florida from Chicago and started her MBA, but here she recalls those long days of her bachelor’s program.

What was your typical day like?

First, COFFEE!

My typical workday is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., so I would drive in Chicago traffic between 6 and 7 a.m. During that time, I would have my phone read aloud any reading I had for that day or throughout the week. Often, when I parked, I would complete my discussion post on the app prior to starting my workday. 

Screenshot example of University of Phoenix discussion board post

Screenshot example of University of Phoenix discussion board


At the end of the day, I would commute home, make dinner, help my kids with homework and, when they got to bed around 8 p.m., I would spend at least an hour on school. Occasionally, I’d work early one weekend day to catch up, if I had a larger assignment.

Best hack for juggling it all?

Having a routine and communicating with my husband when I needed “school time” helped me a lot. We had to start getting our kids to bed earlier, which in turn, helped us all. I really tried to get as much schoolwork done during the week to keep my weekends free for sports activities with the kids.

One piece of advice for anyone considering going to school as an adult?

It’s possible! Finding the right routine that works for you and your individual situation is key.

Maybe we can get a screengrab image or video so people can see what this looks like. 

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Kristy Baron takes charge

Judith Felton

Judith Felton, High Touch Operations Manager, Cisco

Bachelor of Science in Business (2016), Master of Science in Psychology (2019) and Doctor of Management (in progress)


Judith Felton doesn’t shy away from problems or from learning. She has an insatiable curiosity that she brings with her to work and to school. But life circumstances haven’t made her acquisition of knowledge easy. She earned her bachelor’s degree as a single mother of two after starting one program, stepping away for 12 years and then returning to a different program. By that time, she was on a roll: She earned her master’s in 2019 and is currently enrolled in a UOPX doctoral program. 

What is your typical day like?

I am currently pursuing a doctorate in management and can provide “real-time” experience!

I’ve worked full time my entire academic life. Each new degree program offered similar and new challenges based on time, job and family. My days are generally packed with different activities, and I must transition from work to college assignments literally and emotionally.

During my bachelor’s program, I had school-age children and no real study tactics other than to get the work done whenever I could, which was anytime day or night. I worked on assignments during my lunch break and very early in the mornings when the children were sleeping. I also worked on assignments late at night.

My master’s program was very challenging. I made it a practice to get up very early in the morning and try to read for at least one-and-a-half hours before working out or getting ready for work. This early activity helped to mentally prepare me for my workday because I felt ahead of the game having studied early.

Today, the doctoral program is very challenging as it requires both old and new processes to complete assignments. My current program also requires heavy reading, which I now tackle in the evenings.

Ultimately, many best practices for how to study are discovered and developed during the educational journey. Each new program along my education journey helped me to develop a new study strategy or to perfect an old one.

I sometimes work out, then eat dinner before I start an assignment. Working out right after work helps me to destress if necessary and gives me a boost of energy to help me engage in classwork. Next, and my daughter taught me this, a quick nap (30 minutes to an hour) does wonders for the mind and body. Sometimes, just sitting in silence for an hour helps me to reflect on my day and to transition to classwork.

I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all tactic for which study strategies work best for each individual student. Over the years, my work/class assignment transition practices have changed based on my home environment. When I had small children, I could not take a nap directly after work. During those times, I basically made the transition from work to dinner to time with the kids to schoolwork, which was not always a smooth changeover.

Best hack for juggling it all?

One of the best hacks for juggling it all is to learn from your mistakes.

When I was working toward my bachelor’s degree, I was so focused on my studies, my family sometimes longed for my attention. I had returned to college after a 12-year absence, so I was determined to do well in my studies. I did not consider how much others would miss my lack of engagement while working full time, raising a family and attending college. Returning to college was a chance for me to live out my dream, but we must try to create a balance between family, work and school — and it can be done.

One piece of advice for anyone considering going to school as an adult?

The best advice I can give would be to choose your program wisely. Examine different industries that hold your interest to determine which degree will satisfy your interest while meeting a need within a business.

Remember that many of your skills could be transferable from degree program to degree program or from job to job.

I hear some people say, “I don’t need college.” Some people associate college only with getting a better job. I can tell you from firsthand experience, college has groomed me to think differently as a person.

I attended a UOPX graduation online a few years ago, and the words of the commencement speaker made a lasting impression on me. He said, “Before I attended college, I thought fast on my feet. After college, I learned to think things through.” What powerful words coming from an executive business leader! College can become the springboard for new thinking, and new thinking leads to making new decisions that can change our lives for the better.

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The queen of can-do: Judith Felton hasn’t met a problem she didn’t want to solve

Scott Kirby

Scott Kirby, General Manager, Costco Wholesale

Bachelor of Science in Management (2020) and Master of Business Administration (Competency Based–CB) (2021) 


Scott Kirby knows loyalty. He was hired by Costco in 1986 and hasn’t left. He also knows ambition. As Kirby worked his way up the company ladder, he pursued his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, all while balancing work and life in a way that worked for him. 

What was your typical day like?

My daily routine varied depending on whether I had to work or I had the day off.

On a typical workday, I would start around 6:30 a.m. and finish around 5 p.m., getting home around 6 p.m. After a quick meal, I would return to my desk to work on my school projects until around 8:30 p.m. Then, I’d spend quality time with my wife talking, watching TV or relaxing.

When I had a day off, I would spend about eight hours working on my school projects while my wife was at work. If my wife were home, I would spend about four to five hours on my projects, so we had time to run errands, see a movie or enjoy dinner together.

Best hack for juggling it all?

The best hack for juggling multiple responsibilities involves two key factors. First, having a supportive and understanding family is crucial. My family, especially my wife, Star, was incredible and provided unwavering support throughout my academic journey.

Second, being organized is an absolute necessity. As a student balancing family, working full time and school simultaneously, staying organized is vital to balance all the different aspects of life.

One piece of advice for anyone considering going to school as an adult?

The best advice I can offer is to remain patient and understanding during the challenging moments. There will inevitably be tough days, but in the end, the effort and hard work are entirely worth it. Accomplishing a degree while working or balancing work and family is extraordinary.

Learn more about Kirby and other alumni in Amazon’s “The College Tour” episode featuring University of Phoenix!

Attending University of Phoenix

UOPX is committed to helping students reach their academic goals. In addition to offering flexible online courses that students can fit around their other commitments, the University features:

  • Fixed tuition: When you enroll at UOPX, your tuition rate gets locked in until you graduate, making it easier to budget and plan. The University also offers credit for life and work experience, and it works with more than 5,000 accredited institutions to accept transfer credits toward degree programs.
  • Skills-aligned programs: Courses have been designed around career-relevant skills so that with every 5 to 6 week course, students attain knowledge they can use immediately.
  • Faculty with real-world experience: On average, instructors at UOPX bring 26 years of professional experience into the virtual classroom. This translates to learning opportunities that transcend theory to apply to practice.
  • Career resources: In addition to a repository of templates and career guides, UOPX students enjoy career advisement services for life when they attend and graduate from the University.

Explore more than 100 online programs at University of Phoenix that are aligned to upward of 300 careers!

Claire O'Brien


Claire O’Brien has led copywriting teams for Hilton Worldwide Corporate’s creative studio and advertising agencies specializing in the real estate, hospitality, education and travel industries. In 2020, she founded More Better Words, a boutique copywriting agency that taps into her global connections. She lives in Costa Rica with her husband and six rescue dogs.


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