News & Features

Working Mother, Student Chooses University Three Times

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Education for Life section

Friday, May 25, 2007

The coursework and convenience served up by the Fontbonne University OPTIONS program must be pretty palatable for student Marci Sadler, of Fenton. She's liked the experience enough to come back for seconds, even thirds.

Sadler, 33, has already earned two degrees through the OPTIONS program and is well on her way to finishing a third. Her relationship with OPTIONS started in 2001, when she enrolled in the bachelor in business administration program.

"I was working at Maritz at the time," Sadler recalled. "I knew that in order to get anywhere within the company or to grow, I'd need to have at least a bachelor's degree."

Initially, it was OPTIONS' signature convenience and streamlined approach to education for working adults that appealed to her.

"I liked the idea that the class met one night a week, and that our group work allowed for some flexibility. That was huge for me," said Sadler, who had one child at the time.

Sadler had experienced her first taste of college as a traditional, just-out-of-high-school student and found the timing just wasn't right. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do. Later, as an adult learner with some workplace experience under her belt, Sadler came back to the education process with a healthy helping of the passion for learning that was lacking before.

"I felt excited about learning. When I joined the OPTIONS program, it was something that was my own, something I wanted to do for myself," she said. After completing her BBA, she decided to keep moving forward for a second degree. This time she wanted to earn the OPTIONS master of business administration degree, so she forged ahead, even though she had given birth to another child while working on the first degree.

"I didn't take any breaks," she said. "I was afraid if I stopped, I wouldn't get back to it."

With the MBA program, Sadler found herself challenged in new ways that she knows are applicable to every day work life.

"The MBA program is a lot more labor intensive and there is a lot more group work. I've had to learn how to work more effectively as part of a team," she said. "If you're going to move up in management, you're going to have to put yourself in situations that aren't as comfortable."

She earned her MBA in December and said having the degree was definitely a factor in getting a promotion to her current position as a marketing support associate with American Express Incentive Services. When she learned that she could take just 10 more months of coursework to earn the OPTIONS master of management degree, she didn't hesitate.

"It seemed like an advantageous thing to do," Sadler said. "There are some areas of management covered in the MM degree that I'd really like to know more about, especially budgeting. I've never been exposed to that part of management, so I'm learning a lot."

Sadler said she finds the variety of her career in marketing satisfying and believes she'll be poised to manage effectively when the opportunity presents itself.

"If you expose yourself to the opportunities, the pay-off in the end is worth the time you put into it," she said, acknowledging that juggling her work, family and schooling can be a challenge.

"On the days that I have class, things get pretty busy, but it's okay," she said. "And I think getting my education will have a positive impact on my kids. I think my son will remember doing his homework next to me while I'm doing mine. I think they'll remember going to my graduation ceremonies, too."

With its main campus located in Clayton, the university also has OPTIONS classroom sites in South County, Chesterfield, North County and downtown St. Louis. Undergraduate and graduate programs are accelerated and streamlined for the convenience and practicality that busy professionals require. Adult-friendly features include one-time registration, classes that meet the same night each week, and locked-in tuition.

For more information call 314-863-2220 or visit www.fontbonne.edu/options.

with permission, copyright (2007) St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Education for Life Section