Looking Back on it Now… Business Information Systems Degree Grads Reflect on Their Experiences


We recently asked graduates of our Business Information Systems degree program to look back on their time with Linfield and what they wished they would have known before starting. Their responses were surprisingly similar across the board. In fact, if these graduates could share two pieces of advice to those considering an online degree, the advice would likely be “start now” and “believe in yourself.”

Alumna Abigail McPherson wishes that she would have known a long time ago “how important a degree is to your professional status.” She continues to say, “If I had pushed through and graduated years ago, I would likely be so much farther now.” Fellow alumna Janet Lodge agrees and wishes that “I could have done it sooner.”

Balancing school with work and family is a universal concern of nearly all adult students, but many find that some colleges try to make it as easy as possible. Graduate James Ellis appreciated the convenient scheduling of online classes. “Linfield allowed me to take the classes I needed in a linear fashion without having to wait for classes that are only offered every other year,” he said.

Having supportive faculty can definitely help students succeed, according to many of our alums, including James. He noted “The professors were awesome and actually cared. It was nice to see how engaged they were.”  Abigail McPherson agrees, saying that “[Department Chair] Dr. Martin Tweneboah was a brilliant teacher.  I loved all his courses, because he was thorough and the classes were relevant to the real world situations.”

According to Chris Sarrett, a Network Operations Manager for the City of Springfield, the faculty were “quite helpful and knowledgeable in their fields. Very adept at working in the online-only learning environment.”

Today’s job market is now filled with positions that require a degree and many adults choose to go back to school when they find themselves stuck. There is definitely data to support the value of degree completion. The average 4-year bachelor’s degree holder, for instance, earns nearly $1 million dollars more over the course of their lifetime than someone who holds only a high school diploma, according to a study done by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

Still, many students are apprehensive about beginning their programs, especially if it has been a long time since they have been a student. Ralph Schwehr shares that “in the beginning I was hesitant, not sure if I could do it. As I saw my first few good grades on assignments, I started gaining confidence. I wish I had known that if you are willing to do the work, you can succeed.”

Ultimately, these graduates agree that the hard work and investment were worth it. “Having a degree opens doors that were not previously available, “said James Ellis, now a Senior Systems Engineer.

Abigail McPherson, an IT Supplier Specialist for Standard Insurance Company, said “I’ve gotten several promotions since I graduated and I also made my way into the IT division at work.  It’s only been two years and I’m not young anymore, but I feel like I’ve still got a lot of places I could go with my career.”  Ralph Schwehr, a Database Administrator for the State Center Community College District in Fresno, CA agrees: “There is no way I would earn what I earn today without my Linfield degree opening the doors.”

To learn more about our Business Information Systems degree, check out our program page or contact the Office of Admission at 503-883-2213.


A supportive institution can make all the difference for online students


When students make the decision to enroll in an online program, they frequently have apprehension. Perhaps they have been out of school awhile or have never taken an online class. Maybe they are nervous about writing a paper or taking a math class, or simply feel that they will be isolated and on their own in an online program.

At Linfield, we know that it can be overwhelming to take this step and coming into a supportive environment can make a big difference. In our Online and Continuing Education program, we celebrate our students and know that they are often balancing a heavy load of responsibilities.  We know that their lives are often very different from our residential students and have tailored our program to address their unique needs.  The many staff who work with online students at Linfield are enthusiastic about helping them take these next steps in their lives.   Assistant Director of Admission Reese Zimmer genuinely appreciates working with students who are so driven towards their goals, especially when so many of them have to balance their education with having a career and/or family.

This admiration is echoed by Academic Advisor Ann Sukalac who says, “I love to getting to know the students, learn about their goals and dreams and then help them to meet the academic part of those goals.  Online students are generally working (most of them full time) and balancing work and family life with their schooling.  Their dedication is a wonderful thing to behold.”

From the time students fill out a request for information form, it is our goal to make the online learning process easy and worry-free. Academic Advisor Joanne Swenson works with our RN to BSN students and focuses on customer service. “We answer emails within 24 hours, offer phone call appointments for students out of the area, or meet in-person with students who can or who want to,” said Joanne.

Joanne also cares about how the students are doing emotionally, as well. “I often have to put on my ‘counselor hat’ to talk students through difficult situations or personal issues they are dealing with.”

Admission Counselor Deanna Fairchild knows that “returning to college can be stressful and cause some apprehension…” and she always tries to put a student’s worries to rest in their first conversations by discussing their concerns and answering any potential questions that may arise about their education.

When comparing Linfield to other online learning programs, our liberal arts core sets us apart because of how it develops students’ skill set. Instructional Designer Jane Wilde noted that “Linfield’s commitment to liberal arts ideals is the hallmark of what we offer. Regardless of the subjects we teach, or the professional credentials we offer, we emphasize critical thinking, and the ability to see the problems from multiple points of view.”

The other thing that sets Linfield apart is a strong sense of community which carries over to our online classrooms.  Advisors like Ann notice that the successful students are the ones who find an avenue to connect in the online environment.

“The most surprising thing to me about online students is how they manage to personalize the environment for themselves.  When I first worked with online, I was concerned that the environment would be cold and lack the collegial aspect of the classroom.  And a student who doesn’t take advantage of the possibilities could still find it to be that way. But so many students actually do take my advice and form study groups, or just have particular study-buddies that they work with via phone, or Skype, or chat and some great friendships have been formed,” says Ann.  “If a students will put out a virtual hand, there are people there to virtually take it:  faculty, advisors and fellow students.”

All of our staff members are committed to making the student experience as rewarding as possible. As students strive to meet their educational goals, the staff at Linfield will be here to support them every step of the way.



Five Tips To Help Form Bonds With Online Peers And Teachers

Not even the online student, isolated in their personal schedule, is an island. Taking part in the online community made available with online college courses enhances and encourages the learning experience.

Linfield’s online college courses offer a unique and convenient experience to students across the globe. Even though the programs are designed to fit the needs of the individual student, everyone is encouraged to join the online community as much as possible. Forming a bond with a peer, or a personal connection with a teacher, can not only enrich the online experience but encourage growth and hard work within a student as well. Here are a few ways to reach out to the online community and get to know others.

Make Your Profile Available

You should have at your disposal an online profile of some kind. By filling out details about your goals, experiences, background, and even your personal life, you become more “approachable” by those that see your name on the roster. Go the extra mile and make sure your profile represents you and your personality and reasons for joining Linfield’s online college courses. If you’re comfortable with an online presence, provide a picture of your face and links to personal social media.

Take The Initiative In Communicatin

Your teacher will probably want everyone to be familiar with themselves and each other. They will likely create a thread on the community forum just for this purpose. Don’t wait for someone else to get the conversation started. Put yourself out there so others feel comfortable doing the same. If your teacher doesn’t create a “meet” thread on one of your online college courses community’s forum, be the first to create it. Your actions will be rewarded (more on that later).

Respond When Possible

In class discussions or in threads on the forum, always answer questions when you can. Remember, teachers are trying to encourage a conversation. By building a reputation as a student who responds to questions from both the teacher and students, you make yourself available for feedback later.

Reach Out When Needed

You may end up forming a personal connection with your fellow students. If you notice one of your peers has stopped participating and you have the resources to reach out to them appropriately, doing so could encourage them to continue on their educational path.

Embrace Acceptance And Community When Needed

Online college courses are as much about community as they are about independence and flexibility. By reaching out, taking the initiative and making yourself available when possible, you are helping to build that community. Your actions will be rewarded in the form of encouragement when you need it the most. If you miss a discussion, or need more time or help on an assignment, you will find that you have sown the seeds of an online group of friends who are ready and willing to help.