By DeVry University
As a student at DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management, James Clark has witnessed the personal progress that occurs when you pair hard work and discipline with the right community and support.
Despite working 40 hours per week, Clark has thrived in his classes with a steady 4.0 GPA. It’s his personal commitment to success—coupled with the unwavering student support that he has received at DeVry—that he credits for helping him achieve his goals.
Earning an MBA
Everyone has a reason for going back to school and for James Clark, his decision amounted to growth. When he decided to enroll at DeVry, he didn’t have every goal or plan for his degree figured out—and that was ok.
“I knew I wanted to pursue an MBA but wasn’t sure what concentration – such as HR, management or business administration— I wanted to study,” he says. “There just came a time where I knew I wanted to grow and change my perspective and what I found is that I needed to do something different.”
After working in retail at Best Buy for 15 years, he wanted to position himself for future career growth and improve his skills as a manager within the company. “An MBA seemed like the right thing to do,” he says.
The Value of Student Support
Despite his decision to go back to school, James wasn’t 100% certain that he was on the right path until he contacted DeVry and found the student support he needed. That’s when his plan naturally fell into place.
Here are seven ways DeVry has supported James on his journey toward earning his MBA:
1. Enrollment Made Easy
After submitting his application, the first person from DeVry that Clark worked with was Tim, an Admissions Representative who helped him complete the registration process and begin classes.
“He was fantastic,” Clark says. “We were on the phone for probably an hour and a half during our first call. I submitted my application, but since I had never applied to grad school before, I had no idea what to do next. Tim told me what to expect. Anytime I had a question, he had an answer. He helped me see why DeVry was the right place for me.”
With the perspective of a student combined with the wisdom of an advisor, Tim helped Clark organize the final materials needed to complete his application. He also helped him in his decision to pursue a Human Resources MBA specialization.
“Tim could talk about things from a really unique perspective, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the graduate program,” Clark says. “He shared course lists with me, helped me learn about the different concentrations in the program and gave me a lot of ideas about what I could pursue.”
The two exchanged texts and calls for Clark’s first two months in school, which made his transition as a new student at DeVry feel seamless. “When I think about my previous undergrad experience, no one did that,” Clark says. “But the staff at DeVry welcomed me with open arms.”
2. Outstanding Tutors and Student Support Services
If you’re considering earning an MBA but feel nervous about tackling certain courses, “don’t fret,” says Clark. He found the help he needed through DeVry’s experienced network of tutors. Within minutes, DeVry students can make appointments with tutors online and find answers to their questions in real-time.
“For my accounting and statistic classes, I can’t tell you the number of times I was lost on a question or activity and was able to connect with a tutor—at 2:00 in the morning, mind you—to get the information I needed,” Clark says. “The tutors were outstanding and if you have a question or concept you can’t quite grasp, they are amazing at helping you understand it.”
DeVry students can benefit from a wide array of resources and services, which aid in areas such as career services and financial and academic advising.
3. Diverse Students, Staff and Perspectives
As a university, DeVry makes diversity a priority—not only in principle, but in practice within the university’s student body, professors and staff.
“My classes and assignments at DeVry felt like an escape from what can sometimes be a very closed-minded perspective in this world,” Clark says, noting that he particularly found the diverse perspectives of his classmates helpful in combating some of the discriminatory discussions that he experienced in his day-to-day life.
“To have a university that almost infectiously embraces diversity is awesome,” Clark adds. “I think it’s absolutely amazing that I have a professor who is from another country and people in my class from so many different cultures and backgrounds. I never thought that I would be able to learn as much as I have by broadening the type of people that I network with.”
4. The Freedom to Take Classes on Your Time, at Your Pace
No two DeVry students are the same. Some are busy parents, working professionals or students returning to school for the second time, which is why DeVry offers flexible learning options, so students can choose a schedule that fits their lifestyle.
Knowing that he previously struggled with school during his undergraduate years and was going to be balancing a full-time job, Clark opted to focus on just one course per 8-week session. This marked a deliberate strategy.
“I was really a horrible student in undergrad but I somehow graduated with a 3.0 GPA. This time, I wanted to be different,” Clark says, “I wanted to fully commit myself at DeVry. I wanted to give the program the attention it deserved by focusing on one class at a time, and the flexibility to do that at DeVry is outstanding.”
Now as a graduate student with a 4.0 GPA, Clark’s one-class-a-session strategy has undoubtedly paid off: “It allows me to produce some of the highest quality work I have ever done in my life and I am insanely proud of that,” he says.
5. Knowledge That You Can Apply in Real-time
“The skills I’ve learned in class have helped me with so many things, including communication with customers in retail. That’s the coolest part,” Clark says. “When we talk about something in the classroom, I can go to work the next day and do it. That doesn’t happen everywhere and that’s probably why I’m doing so well within the program. If we talk about having a conversation with an employee in class, then all of a sudden I find myself in the same situation at work, I can draw upon the principles and perspectives I’ve learned. It makes me much more prepared for that conversation as a manager.”
He even discovered that his classes helped him navigate a major business emergency at work. After taking a course titled Managing Through Significant Organizational Change, Clark was able to write an urgent business plan that his store needed on short notice.
“We needed to come up with new protocols for how to manage customer questions regarding an appliance that was no longer going to be produced by the manufacturer,” Clark says. “My boss and his boss called me into the office and said they needed to explain the organizational changes we had to make for the next 4-6 months. I had to create something we never had before, and what I learned at DeVry gave me the confidence to write a business plan that same week. I knew I could do it because we had related conversations in class.”
6. Virtual Tools That Strengthen Critical Thinking Skills
Specializing in online education for more than 20 years, classes at DeVry often leverage interactive tools, video and chats to help students engage with the materials they’re learning.
“I particularly enjoy my classes that use tools like WebEx,” Clark says. “You can have such incredible conversations when you allow 12-15 people listening to a professor to give feedback and share what the discussion really means to them.”
These virtual discussions have helped Clark bolster communication, analytical and problem-solving skills—all strengths he plans to put to good use during his next employee training, business meeting or conversation with a customer.
“No matter what the opinion is in class, I’ve never had a professor or student who didn’t want to discuss the topic at hand. We always discuss the ‘whys’ behind business decisions and scenarios.”
7. Professors and Peers Who Bring out the Best in You
Of all the ways DeVry supports Clark, he believes the encouragement he’s received from his classmates and professors has been one of the most influential factors for his success. His peers engage and connect with him while his professors challenge and inspire.
“I don’t feel like anyone is ever just going through the motions,” Clark says of his classmates and professors. “Every communication that is sent within a class, every assignment that is due, every conversation we have is all done with purpose.”
He plans to continue progressing in his classes to maintain his GPA until graduation—and feels that he has the right mindset and community to make that goal a reality.
“I am not going to say that what I’ve accomplished so far at DeVry is not a result of significant effort of my own. But I would be really amiss not to recognize the fact that –whether it has been professors or fellow students—at any moment, I can find numerous people who are right there with me, giving me the tools and support I need to get things done,” Clark says. “My time at DeVry has shown me that if you have the right people around you—who have a mindset that embraces new ideas, and you can have a conversation with them and find the greatness that exists outside your own bubble—then success can absolutely happen.”