Students in the System: Stephen Anderson at Pacific Oaks College

Stephen Anderson, director of admissions operations, says one of the best benefits of working at TCS Education System is having the opportunity to earn his degree.

Life can come at you fast. Sometimes, that means putting your priorities on hold. For Director of Admissions Operations Stephen Anderson, it meant waiting until later in life to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

Ironically, Anderson had been working in the field of higher education for years as an enrollment coordinator. But the daily demand of work combined with responsibilities at home made pursuing his own education difficult, if not impossible.

Following a brief tenure with Devry University, Anderson was drawn to working at TCS Education System in part because of the organization’s support for employees seeking to pursue their educational goals.

“When looking at potential employers, one of the main draws for me was to get back into school. The fact that TCS supports enrollment with our partner colleges interested me from the time I applied.”

TCS encourages employees to pursue their educational goals by offering two separate programs to help with costs. The first is a tuition assistance program, which covers up to $5,000 in tuition costs at any outside educational institution for eligible employees. The second, a tuition waiver program, is specific to TCS partner colleges and can help eligible employees cover the cost of pursuing their degree (tuition waiver specifications vary by partner college). By providing these opportunities and encouragement, our community gets better, one student at a time, like Anderson.

After exploring the vast number of academic program options available, Anderson settled on pursuing a degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College. He thinks the degree has the potential to set him up for long-term success, regardless of where his professional growth takes him.

“When I looked into Pacific Oaks, I realized the human development program can set you up to succeed in many different things. In my position at TCS, I would notice that graduates in human development were continuing their education with a master’s in organizational leadership, counseling, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, or any other number of fields.”

In his day-to-day work at TCS, Anderson manages a team that is at the crux of the student experience by facilitating student information between different departments and ensuring a student’s admissions process goes smoothly. When he’s outside the office, Anderson has a passion for fashion and designs custom shoes. He believes his degree can help him with this passion as well.

“At the core of learning human development, you learn about the human mindset and how to engage communities,” he says. “So that definitely can play a part in helping to develop new products that align with the communities I am promoting them to. It can also influence strategies that I can use to help give back to the community.”

The fact the human development program is offered online gave Anderson greater flexibility to balance work and personal life with his educational goals. “I think I even surprised myself,” he says. “Because through it all—working fulltime and managing a team—I was still able to graduate from a school 2,000 miles away with a 4.0 GPA. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but what I came away with was knowledge and experience that I know to this day, I am still using.”

Although he didn’t have to leave Chicago to complete his courses, he did decide to finally make a trip to visit Pacific Oaks for a particularly special occasion: graduation. He recalls the thrill of finally getting to meet his online classmates and instructors who had supported him on his journey and challenged him to be better.

Following a recent promotion to director of admissions operations, Anderson is considering continuing his education with another partner college, The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law. He believes the program can help him better navigate the legal and compliance components of his daily work. But for now, he’s happy to finally have earned his bachelor’s degree.

“It was a culminating moment for me. I’ve been trying to finish that cornerstone of my education for roughly eight years,” he says. “It seemed like stuff just kept popping up and getting in the way. But I just wasn’t taking no for an answer this time. It’s something I worked very hard for and I’m proud that TCS could help make it happen.”