“It was a big mistake.”
That’s what John Bobik says about his decision, when he was a young man, to take college classes. “I was not a great high school student. For me, it was boring. And of course, I knew it all!” he says. “I only lasted a year and dropped out of most of the classes.”
John moved on to the workforce, but without a degree, he struggled to find jobs. He spent 15 years in retail management, and is now an experienced software developer and consultant, working on contracts with the U.S. Army and Navy over the past 20 years. Recently, he heard that some of his contracts could start requiring him to get a four-year degree.
“Going back to school scared the heck out of me,” he says. But he also felt drawn to the challenge. “I think I had realized that I’m stagnant, I’m inside my box,” he says. “It’s when you become stagnant that you start to get old. … You’ve got to have some goals.”
After requesting information from one institution and waiting a few weeks to hear back, John searched for alternatives and found Immaculata’s College of Adult Professional Studies online programs.
“Within a day, I had a response back,” he said. He attended an open house for adult students, got his questions answered and transferred 12 credits. “It was a very smooth process,” he says. “I was really happy.”
John is in his second semester of classes, and he admits that sometimes it’s hard to interpret what a professor wants for an assignment or figure out why he got something wrong. He was nervous about managing schoolwork with a full-time job. But these concerns have an upside, he says. “Fear is a great thing. It keeps you focused and alert, and that is precisely what we need to succeed.”
Recently, John discovered that he will not be required to earn a degree after all for his current contract work. “I could just quit again, since it is not needed, but I am not going to do it,” he says. “I am going to continue until I get my associate degree in information systems and my Bachelor of Science in organizational behavior.”
What is motivating him to get degrees he doesn’t need? “I’m going to grow,” he says. “I want to be able to take what I learn and put it into practice.”
Most of all, “I like to be outside the box,” he says. “It’s more for me now than anything. The degree is for me.”
John also thinks his organizational behavior classes will help improve his public speaking skills, which he began practicing as a teenager––through magic shows. Throughout four decades of doing shows and watching great performers, he learned that “the magic is secondary…It’s all about storytelling.”
His love of performing led him to present workshops about software products and try his hand at keynote speeches. He sought to entertain his audiences while also informing them. “Always tell a story, because that way people will relate to you,” he says. His long-term goal is to polish his public speaking skills so that he can lead employee training sessions about good customer service.
His experience with Immaculata is another reason John is persisting in his education. “The support staff here at the college are excellent, from financial aid to guidance on the courses you need to take, and of course, the writing center,” he says. “It’s been very easy for me to be able to ask the questions and get an answer so I understand it.”
At Immaculata’s open house in July, John told the story of his educational journey to a roomful of adults thinking about earning their associate or bachelor’s degrees.
“I can tell you right now: you cannot afford not to do this,” he said. “It is never too late to start a new chapter in your life, and this is the first page of that new chapter.”