When Jeffrey Bowen, a police officer from Kaukauna, Wis., was thinking about going back to school, he was looking for a university that provided the right program and wasn’t too far from home.
“I had looked into a couple different schools and did some visits, but didn’t find what I was looking for. I kind of gave up on the idea of returning to school for a little while,” Bowen said.
But when Bowen realized his veteran benefits were going to run out, he started looking again. “It was the kick to get me going,” he said.
Bowen enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies (BAS L&OS) through the Center for New Learning at UW Oshkosh, and attends his classes at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.
“The location had a lot to do with it,” Bowen said regarding his choice of schools. “If classes had only been in Oshkosh, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it.
“I thought the program itself also meshed in well with what I’m doing now,” Bowen said.
Though Bowen doesn’t attend classes on the UW Oshkosh campus, he said his advisor through the Center for New Learning has made the distance learning easy.
“My advisor is awesome,” Bowen said. “I’ve met with her several times, and she’s great at getting back to me with answers to my questions, whether it’s through e-mail or a phone call."
As a student who also works full-time, Bowen has faced some challenges trying to find a good balance between his career and education. He says the flexibility of his program and the hybrid courses make the two easier to juggle.
“Before this program, I had never done a hybrid course, and I realize now that they work great. I can come home at 4 a.m. after my shift and just go right online. I can do my homework and discussions whenever,” Bowen said.
Bowen says his wife supports his decision to return to school, though it’s sometimes difficult because it means they see each other less.
“My wife works days and I work nights, so that’s a challenge right there. It’s a little hard now that I have to spend some of my time off work at school and not as much with her, but she really supports me going to school and she knows it’s important to me,” Bowen said.
Bowen is working hard to achieve his degree because he feels it may make him more competitive when applying for a promotion.
“Eventually once a spot opens up as a supervisor, I’d like to move up. While the degree doesn’t guarantee me a promotion, it doesn’t hurt,” Bowen said.
"As I see more and more officers going to school, I realized that if I want to be competitive for promotion, this degree can help me.”
Though many adult students go back to school to improve their qualifications for employment, Bowen said that’s not the only motivation for his classmates.
“We have people in classes who are already in middle and upper management and they’re going back. A lot of people might wonder why they’re going to school when they already have their position, but it’s always a positive thing. You can never be too educated.”
Overall, Bowen said that he would recommend other adult learners who are thinking about going back to school consider the Center for New Learning.
“I just don’t think going to school can be a wrong decision. Whether it’s for a job or for your own personal growth, I think it’s always a positive thing,” Bowen said.
The Center for New Learning at UW Oshkosh offers accelerated bachelor’s degree opportunities for adult students in nontraditional delivery formats. With evening, online and hybrid courses designed for busy adults, CNL offers academic programs that utilize adult learning strategies and reflect a student-centered philosophy.