It was clear to Darrell Pope that he had to make a change. His industry was quickly changing and he could see the you-better-acquire-additional-skills writing on the wall. “I saw the economy changing. My background is basically associated with brick and mortar, and I saw all of the manufacturers moving off-shore. I thought, boy, I better get with the program or I won’t have a job,” said Pope, who is a now manager at Celestica, an electronics manufacturing company. Pope said he had regional view of the world and knew that he had to develop a world view and learn how business is done in other cultures. Staying abreast of the world’s changing environment, he knew, was vital to staying relevant and competitive at any age. “I think people become stale by not attending school regularly, you become complacent. Today’s world is always changing. You have to stay up on changes in technology and people. Perspectives are different now than they were 20 years ago.” Since receiving his secondary degree at Kaplan University, Pope, 50, says he feels energized about the new skills he has acquired and by the access understanding new technology allows him—including working virtually and sharing information with partners around the world via the Internet.
Though making the choice to return to school and take courses at Kaplan University in 2009 was the easy part, what was challenging, says Pope, was figuring out how to balance his working full-time, traveling, studying and having a family. “My wife would complain that all I did was work and study. I was working 50 hours a week and going to school 20 hours. I learned a lot about time management during that time. You can do anything you want [in] life, you just have to allot time to it.” Fortunately, through Kaplan’s virtual classes, he was able to see it through and earn his masters degree in science and management in just two years.
Many in today’s job market find themselves pushed aside not only from younger workers but from those who have taken the initiative to expand their education. Pope says he believes people don’t go back to school because of the fear factor and not wanting to let others know just how much they don’t know; but his curriculum at Kaplan kept him motivated and on his toes. “What I liked [about Kaplan] was that I received a syllabus that said what the deliverables were, and you knew that if you met those deliverables, you’ll do well. That taught me that in any relationship you have to have expectations, and if you meet those expectations, the results should be good.”
When encouraging others to go back to school, Pope says simply, “just do it. It’s challenging, but you learn so much about yourself. You learn to become a lifelong learner.”