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2013 Spring Banner Carrier Reflects on Time at CLS

Nathan Jacobs posing with his family at graduation

A Conversation with Nathan Jacobs

Nathan Jacobs served as the Banner Carrier for the Spring 2013 Convocation ceremony held in May. Nathan was selected because of his outstanding academic achievements and his shining example of what dedication and vision can accomplish in academics.

Like so many others struggling with what they want out of life, Nathan came to the College of Liberal Studies after a circuitous journey of trying to find an education program that not only fit his personality, but was achievable as a non-traditional, working student.

What life or college experiences led you to CLS?

I graduated from Carthage High School (Missouri) in 2001. I went directly into college because I thought that is what you were supposed to do. I had so many ideas on what I wanted to do, my degree interests continued to change. As a result, I transferred between three universities and changed my major three times. After a little more than two years, a situation had caused me to have to start paying my loans. As I began working full time and was trying to go to school full time, my grades began to fall, and I made the difficult decision to put school on hold to take care of my finances. I always had the goal to someday return to college to finish my degree. It was not until seven years later that an opportunity presented itself for me to complete my educational goal.

Did any particular person or incident inspire you to get your degree?

Initially, I did not want my first two years of college credit to have been for nothing. At the same time, I wanted to make sure I found a degree that I would find interesting and could use in my future career. My wife was in her second year of graduate school when I had paid off the last of my previous student loan debt. I began to express my desire to finish my bachelor’s degree, and she was very supportive. Her support was very important in my decision to return to school and finish my degree. I knew that having my college degree would provide more educational/career opportunities for me. Additionally, I knew my parents and sister would be proud that I returned to finish my education.

How did you hear about the OU College of Liberal Studies?

While my wife was in graduate school and we were living in Texas, I began to look at various institutions to finish my degree. Where I went was mostly dependent on where she got her internship. With our families living in Missouri and Kansas, we were hoping to be a little closer. I had been an OU fan for quite some time and would frequently watch any game that was on air. During one of the football games, I saw a commercial for OU Outreach. Shortly after, I went online to research it more and came across the Administrative Leadership degree program through CLS and I discovered I could take courses on-site at OU Tulsa. So I applied and was admitted to begin in Spring 2011.

What challenges did you face while working on your degree?

There were a few challenges that presented themselves after I was admitted. The first challenge was how I was going to pay for school. As I mentioned, it was finances that played a role in me having to put school on hold in the first place. I was really determined this time. After reading Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, my wife and I committed to a monthly budget, and we set aside money for my tuition. I was also very fortunate to have support, in multiple semesters, from the Bernard Osher Foundation through their Osher Reentry Student Scholarship award. This helped lower my cost to a manageable rate, and it prevented any financial distractions while pursuing my degree.

I had never once considered working in higher education until I was in this program. The more I worked in group projects and interacted with students in class, the more I actually looked forward to going to class. I would even get upset when classes were cancelled.

The second challenge was adjusting my time management to fit in studying with my schedule for work, volunteering, family, and friends. I mean, it had been seven years since I had last attended college and it wasn’t easy to find the time.

The other challenge I had was developing my writing and accommodating my assignments to the appropriate writing format. Adjusting back to writing academically was a challenge because I had never written in the American Psychological Association (APA) format before. However, through the critique, compliments, and guidance many of my instructors provided, I was able to become a better writer than I gave myself credit for.

What motivated you to push through those challenges?

I am very thankful for my wife who helped hold me accountable to my study schedule, especially during my Study-in-Depth course in which I had to write a 25-30 page interdisciplinary study paper about America’s spending and debt problems. Her encouragement motivated me to excel in my studies, along with a supportive group of friends who created a motto for those of us in school, and that is to “Finish Strong.”

How will having this degree impact your life?

I have always been fascinated with leadership, and I believe this degree has given me an interdisciplinary perspective about what leadership is and the need for it in today’s society. Much of what I have learned I will be able to use in all aspects of my life: family, work, church, and community.

Having this degree will help me in my future educational goals. I have decided to further my education and will pursue a master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education, with a student affairs emphasis, through the Jeanine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma.

While you were a CLS student, what did you learn about yourself?

One thing I did learn about myself is my passion for working with and inspiring college students. I had never once considered working in higher education until I was in this program. The more I worked in group projects and interacted with students in class, the more I actually looked forward to going to class. I would even get upset when classes were cancelled. I have to give recognition to Dr. Kathy Seibold. When I shared my interest in higher education with her, she encouraged and supported me in my decision and played a big part in developing my educational and career goals. Thank you, Kathy!

Overall, my studies through the College of Liberal Studies led to the change and development of my new career goals, and I can never thank everyone who was a part of my journey enough!

Each Winter and Spring Convocation, a Banner Carrier is selected from students nominated by CLS academic advisors for showing distinguished character and outstanding academic commitment. 

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The College of Liberal Studies is a fully accredited academic unit of the University of Oklahoma, offering 100% online, hybrid and onsite bachelor's and master's degrees for working adults and non-traditional students.

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