Champlain College Online Student Stories: Don

Don Mulvihill graduated from Champlain College in 2018, with a Bachelor's of Science in Web Design & Development.

I had been working in a tech-focused field for decades until I was suddenly laid off. I began looking for a new job, but I soon realized that not having a bachelor's degree was holding me back. I knew how difficult it would be to find work without one, so after discussing it with my wife, I decided to go back to school after over twenty years.

I knew I wanted to get a degree in web design and development, because I had been working in a related field. It was information I already had an understanding of, and I didn't want to make a complete career change - I wanted to continue with the work I was already doing, so getting a credential in that field just made sense, and I knew that getting a degree in my field would be very important for potential employers.

I didn't have a particular institution in mind, but I knew I wanted an online degree for the flexibility it could offer. Beyond that, my only criteria was that it would let me complete a degree in as little time as possible. I went online to research schools offering degrees in the field, and ultimately chose Champlain College Online, a small online institution based in Vermont, because it had the right mix of coursework, an accelerated course of study (meaning I could get through it as quickly as possible), and it had great ratings and reviews.

My experience at Champlain was challenging and rewarding, and I felt like the school truly cared about my success as an individual - they really worked with me to tailor my education to what I needed, in so many different ways.

For example, in my capstone course, I was assigned a final project that wasn't aligned with my career goals. I had a dedicated academic advisor, Caroline, who was terrific, and supported me and advocated for me throughout my whole program, and when I mentioned the project to her, she worked with administrators, my instructors, and the program director to allow me to design an customized, alternative project that would help my portfolio be more impressive to potential employers.

The school also helped me find opportunities to get credit for my experience and what I already knew. I ended up being able to test out of eight courses, which saved me so much time, because I was already familiar with the material. It was such a great option, and I'm so thankful that the school gave me that opportunity to go through the coursework that much faster. Because of this ability to apply my work experience to my degree program, I was ultimately able to finish my entire bachelor's degree in a year and a half.

I had taken some college classes years ago, but I didn't finish my degree the first time around, and that always bothered me. Coming back to school was a really big deal for me, and to finally get a degree was huge. I worked my way up in the business world without a college degree, but I always felt like I was missing out on something without a degree. I have a tremendous amount of experience, but not having the degree really hurt me. Losing my job ended up being a great opportunity to fill that void.

Going back to school has already had a significant impact on my career. Just having a bachelor's degree has made a difference going back into the workforce - I felt more prepared and more confident than I ever had when applying to jobs, and I did find a new position in my field. I've finally achieved something I've wanted to achieve for my entire life, and I'm proud of myself for being able to accomplish this.

Overall, I couldn't be happier that I ended up at a small school instead of a larger one. My experience at a small online institution was tremendous, and I truly feel that they cared about my goals as much as I did. I would highly recommend Champlain!