Like many adult learners Caryn Wcislo is short on time but full of academic promise and determination. Wcislo is currently enrolled in Arcadia University's Accelerated Business Degree Completion program. "My major is Business Administration and I'm exploring a minor in Anthropology or International Studies," said Wcislo. Born and raised in Conshohocken, she attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and now resides in South Philadelphia.
She said she discovered Arcadia through an internet search, while trying to find a university with a respectable online business program that could offer flexible schedules and options. "I noticed Arcadia's Business Administration Accelerated Degree Completion program and its availability of online and hybrid courses at its Glenside campus and it seemed like the perfect fit," said Wcislo, 32. "Added bonuses are Arcadia's global focus, which helps me to further explore diversity, and the professors' use of current events in the classroom, which helps me both apply what I'm learning to real-world events and further my understanding of the content."
Wcislo earned an A.S. in Accounting from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, but said she wanted to work in the professional world before continuing her education. After working in real estate a few years, she transitioned to her current company, ICON Clinical Research in North Wales, Pa., where she works in financial analysis. "It isn't exactly accounting but still revolves around a lot of numbers—and I help our biostatistics department with their forecasting, contract reconciliation and margin analysis," she said.
Following a volunteer trip to Peru, Wcislo decided to shift to a career more focused on the non-profit sector. "Hopefully, I can work on a global scale or work locally with immigrants and refugees," explains Wcislo. "The logic behind my decision is if I have to work for the rest of my life I'd like to try to make even a small difference while doing so. While the end goals are different many of the same business principles apply to non-profit management, so I decided to finish my degree in with a B.A. Business Administration."
Wcislo gave up her car last year and uses public transportation to commute between her home in South Philadelphia, her office in North Wales, Arcadia in Glenside and her friends and family throughout the city and suburbs. Wcislo says she takes as many online and blended courses as she can. "I love the online format because it keeps me on the right pace but relatively allows me to complete schoolwork during times that are more convenient for me—whether it's first thing in the morning, during my lunch break, in the middle of the night, or any time between," she said. "The online format also fits really well with any commute: while on a train or bus I can easily knock out my reading, and I can also use my laptop to work on problem sets, write papers, or explore video and audio content."
Working full-time and taking courses are sometimes a challenge, but Wcislo said she remains steadfast to the commitment of earning a degree. "My primary reasons for completing my business degree are personal: it's something I want to do for myself and I don't want to leave a degree half-finished," she adds.
She said earning a degree is not only for personal fulfillment, she is confident it will give her professional edge. "I think a degree lends a certain authenticity to experience and capability, and by combining education with my experience I feel that I will have a competitive edge in the job market," she said. Wcislo has submitted an 'intent to graduate' for May 2012, but since she's also just declared a minor in anthropology, she may require an additional summer semester. "I feel that a minor in that discipline will highlight my interest in different cultures and will deem me a better fit for my anticipated work on a global scale," Wcislo said.