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The MDS Degree Helps Students Reach Life-long Goals

The drive to finish what you started

Many college students are fresh-faced teens, headed to school to gain more knowledge and experience; to meet friends they’ll have for life and start a career. Other students come to post-secondary school after a full career, marriage and family. They’re looking for a degree program that incorporates that multifaceted life that they’re already living. Amy Clark has been in both positions.

“I started Boise State as an 18-year-old kid in 1989, and lived in Driscoll Hall, and ate my lunch in the [Student Union Building], which was a great experience. I just didn’t have any direction, and I didn’t know what I wanted” said Clark.

Self-doubt can be a powerful deterrent to tackling a large and difficult goal, but it can also drive you to accomplishment. “It always nagged me that I didn’t finish,” said Clark. Almost 30 years later, she returned to Boise State to get a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies.

Amy Clark with the Boise State College Kiwanis Club in Nashville for a convention, 1991.
Amy Clark with the Boise State College Kiwanis Club in Nashville for a convention, 1990.

Getting back on the degree path

During that 30 years, Clark attended a technical college and became a legal secretary; she worked for a company selling auto parts and took a correspondence course to become a wedding planner. She’s owned two businesses, and with that gained a wealth of experience managing a business, employees and her finances. She got married and had two children. Through all of her triumphs, she still had the goal of obtaining a college degree in the back of her mind, “I always was missing something, always was really not happy with myself because I didn’t finish my degree.”

“I always was missing something, always was really not happy with myself because I didn’t finish my degree.”

Clark researched schools and programs but thought that lack of time in her full life and the lack of money to pay for school were going to be impossible barriers. She needed to be able to maintain employment while in school, to have the flexibility that would allow her time for her family. As a professional with lots of experience, she also wanted a program that valued her time in the workforce.

The Boise State Multidisciplinary Studies (MDS) program is just such a program—uniquely designed for adults returning to college to finish a degree. The application even requires “significant life experience,” such as several years of work, parenting, volunteering or military service. Once she found the program, the path was clear. ”I pretty much think [Multidisciplinary Studies] was made for me and that they had me in mind when they wrote the program,” Amy said, “When I found it, I did a happy dance in my living room about the fact that I got to go back to school… It changed my life.”

A balancing act, with support

Once Clark knew there was a program for her, Boise State Online Student Success Coaches walked her through each step of the application process, even the rough patches. “I had some scholarship and some financial aid issues that we worked out step by step,” said Clark.

Their ability to help her overcome each hurdle, and their confidence in her abilities, kept her motivated to keep going. “They were there every semester, being my biggest cheerleaders to just keep going and just get through this degree,” said Clark.

“They were there every semester, being my biggest cheerleaders to just keep going and just get through this degree.”

Clark found the MDS advising team to be a tremendous support in finding a balance between school and home life. She was living outside of Boise at the time, so a traditional in-person degree wasn’t going to be possible. Clark’s advisor helped her navigate the flexible scheduling options built into the program and she was able to consolidate her schedule to days that worked.

This is reaching your goals

Amy Clark, BA, MDS, with her daughter and mother at her Boise State University graduation, 2017.
Amy Clark, BA, MDS, with her daughter and mother at her Boise State University graduation, 2017.

Many students going back to college after a life of experience are not only looking for a piece of paper to validate their knowledge, but also the confidence that they can tackle big goals in their life and at a high level. Clark needed to know that she was capable of earning a college degree. “So this degree was a lifesaver for me. I really needed to go back and get my degree, and so when I found this program, and it was something that was attainable, I could get to my goals,” Clark said.

Clark’s MDS degree is based in leadership, human relations and psychology. She thanks the support system built into the MDS program at Boise State for her success, “The professors, both online and on campus, and the people I’ve met over the last two years have been people that have been part of this journey, and my growth has been absolutely humongous.” Along with her bachelor’s degree, she earned a Certificate in Leadership and Human Relations.

At 18, Clark scraped by with a 1.7 GPA, but at mid-life she graduated on the Dean’s list. “It has been life changing. It has given me so much more self-esteem, and I’m very proud of myself, and I’m smart, and all those things that I needed to know about myself to get through.” With her new skills developed through the Boise State program, she hoped to go on to lead people with more emotional intelligence and mindfulness.

Career and advice to others

During her last year at Boise State, Amy was recruited to work as a financial planner. Her degree has propelled her to climb higher mountains than she thought possible, “I’m going to coach people on making the right decisions about money. And I know I can do this now because I have this degree.”

Her advice to other students is to, “Just to do it…You’re not too old. You’re not too far along in your life. Your ship hasn’t sailed. Go back and get your degree because this program can make it possible.”

About Boise State Online

Check out the Boise State Online Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies and learn how you can finish your degree. Along with the MDS program, Boise State University offers more than 55 online degree and certificate programs to help you make your educational dreams a reality–whether you need a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree or a single, online class. For more information, visit boisestate.edu/online.

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