A Day in the Life: CTE Student Balances Teaching and Weathercasting Careers

Image is of the featured student.

Because Bryan Schuerman has two careers to maintain and because he’s a full-time student in the Ball State Online master’s in career and technical education, his feet hit the floor squarely each morning at 2 a.m.

From 2:30 a.m. until 12 noon, he works as weekday morning and mid-day meteorologist for WICS ABC News Channel 20 and WRSP FOX Illinois in Springfield, Illinois, prepping his forecasts and taping cut-ins for Good Morning America. He goes live from 5 to 7 a.m. on ABC and 7 to 8 a.m. on FOX. He also fills in as lifestyle anchor and producer.

His work has earned the coveted National Weather Association Weathercaster Seal of Approval.

Then He Heads to Class

From the studio, Bryan heads to his second career as a family and consumer science teacher at a nearby high school, where he teaches nutrition and culinary arts classes from 12 to 3:30 p.m.

For professionals like myself who are juggling not one, but two careers, I can fit in the time to make a degree happen at my pace,” he says, of the CTE program offered fully online.

“After I got my teacher’s license and graduated with my master of education degree, I always kept an eye out for any family and consumer science teacher postings,” says Bryan.

Among multiple areas, Bryan is certified to teach middle school science for grades 5-9, journalism, radio and TV broadcasting for grades 9-12, and family and consumer sciences 5-12.

CTE Program is Filling in the Blanks

He says the family and consumer sciences license provided just a “snippet” of what is needed to teach family and consumer sciences.

This program is helping me ‘fill in the blanks’ that I did not get specifically from family and consumer sciences to make me a more, well-rounded teacher,” says Bryan, who is pursuing the family and consumer sciences concentration.

Ball State’s program is ideal, he says, for people who want “the basics of how to administer a CTE program, as well as instructional strategies to make us better educators in the classroom.”

“CTE Encompasses Many Careers”

He’s also learning how comprehensive the CTE field can be.

I have interacted and shared learning experiences with students who are teaching dental assistant classes, audiology classes and more,” says Bryan. “While the course work we are learning in this program is broad enough to encompass all types of career and technical education, the professors let us take that knowledge and apply it to what we are individually teaching.

The pandemic has been a factor, he says. Through online forums, his classmates are sharing their experiences of teaching career and technical education courses remotely for the first time.

“We all know, we are ‘writing the playbook’ for remote learning right now,” says Bryan. “So listening to ideas from other classmates and bouncing my experiences off them has been a very pleasant experience.”

What You Need to Know Before You Hit ‘Apply’

You know you’re ready to take the next step toward achieving your goals, which involves continuing your education. But, before you hit “apply,” do you know what else you should consider? Reach out to your program student success specialist or advisor to discuss the following three items more in-depth.

1.   Program Options

It can be overwhelming looking at all the degrees, certificates, and licenses available to you. First, you’ll want to consider your state licensing or board certification requirements before you apply. Then, make sure your selected program is the best fit for your personal and professional goals. Find out if additional certificates or minors complement the program and will make you more marketable in the long-run.

2. Cost

You can estimate how much your program may cost; however, there are many factors to determine the total cost of a program, including:

  • The number of semesters to complete your degree
  • How many courses you take each term
  • Additional expenses, such as technology or course fees

Be sure to check if financial aid is available for your program. If it is, then you’ll want to submit your FAFSA in addition to your application as soon as possible.

3.  Application Process

Application deadlines tend to sneak up on students, especially when they vary by program. With that said, it’s best to review the admission requirements and plan weeks before submitting your application, allowing enough time to gather all of the materials needed. For example, transcripts can take anywhere from days to a few weeks to arrive, depending on your prior institution’s delivery method.

Note that not all programs require additional materials, but it can be a time-consuming task for the programs that do. The materials that often require time to gather and review include:

  • Entrance exam scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Portfolios
  • Resumes
  • Placement test scores

If you are an international applicant, you may have different materials to gather other than what is above. International applicants will find additional information here.

Once all of your materials are ready to submit, you may find yourself staring at the screen thinking, What type of application do I select now? There are a few different applications based on your program and background. For graduate programs, follow the prompts here. For undergraduate programs, you will find instructions here. For each program application, you’ll also need to pay a $60 fee, unless you’re a Ball State University alumnus or were enrolled in a Ball State degree-seeking program in the past. Whether you were an online or on-campus student, all previous Ball State students can apply for free.

After submitting your application, the decision process will take some time. Again, this process varies depending on the program you’ve selected, but you can always check your status on your applicant portal.

If, at any point during the application and admissions process, you have questions or need help, remember that you have a student success specialist or advisor who will always have your back. All you need to do is ask!

For more tips, advice, and resources, remember to visit Ball State Online’s blog, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

And Now Presenting…A Work, Life, and School Balancing Act

I remember posting online when I finished my master’s degree in 2015 that I was submitting my last assignment EVER! and I would NEVER be in school ever again! Every year when those memories pop up on social media, I can’t help but laugh at Past Casey while looking at the pile of work I have to do.

Since then, I’ve completed a graduate certificate, started another one (which, I ultimately did not finish), and have now started my second semester for my EdD in higher education.

For every program that I worked on after my bachelor’s degree, I also worked full-time in addition to pursuing a degree. During my master’s degree, I worked in a position that required three months of recruitment travel. Which meant I had to be careful to pack all of my textbooks in addition to everything else as I left for Missouri for two weeks at a time.

For the first graduate certificate, I was actually working a full-time job as a Student Success Specialist, a part-time job at a jewelry store, and completing coursework. There were times when I truly questioned my sanity at that point. And, I wasn’t alone in that. My friends and family couldn’t believe that I was able to balance all of that and continue to have some semblance of a social life as well. It certainly wasn’t always easy. But, I’ve always felt that it was worth it.

My master’s degree opened the doors for me to get my current position in advising, which had been a dream of mine since I was an undergraduate student.

The first graduate certificate strengthened my resume enough for me to start teaching. The second graduate certificate helped me to develop some management skills, which have been incredibly helpful after a recent promotion to a supervisory position. I’m not clear yet on which doors the EdD will open, but I love that the possibilities are so vast!

Those possibilities, and the strong desire to someday be Dr. Schultz, are what keep me motivated to continue, even when things feel overwhelming. I’ve had to really work to budget out my time each week to make sure everything is done on time. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are each dedicated to reading for each class. And whenever possible, assignments should be completed one day ahead of the deadline (in case anything were to pop up, I have a grace period).

At the beginning of each semester, I carefully read through my syllabi and highlight due dates, so I have an idea of which weeks will be busier than others for me.

I’ve also learned not to be afraid to reach out to my instructors.

If ever I think that I might be in jeopardy of missing a deadline, I’m sure to reach out to my instructors early to open that line of communication and see what my options are and what assistance they can offer.

When all goes well, and I’ve met or beaten all of my self-imposed deadlines for the week, I can reward myself by watching a couple episodes of my newest obsession: “Alone” on the History Channel—a survival competition show, on which I would last all of one hour on as a competitor. As I watch, I’m realizing just how grateful I am that I’m not alone on my academic journey!

Study Tips for Students New to Online

If you’re brand new to online classes, or even if you’re back after a brief pause in your education, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to studying at your own pace.  Nothing a few useful tips and planning can’t overcome! These are some of the top tips I give to the students I advise to study successfully.

Get Organized

An easy trap is to forget when assignments or exams are due as you’re trying to balance classes with home and/or work life. It’s always a great idea to compare course syllabi and schedules provided by your instructors with the Canvas calendars. This should help to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Time Management is Huge

Our online courses are just as rigorous as our main campus courses. It can be easy to procrastinate on your coursework due to the more independent nature of online learning. It’s vital to set aside time to dedicate to your reading, assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams the same as if attending in person. You’ll be amazed at how much more manageable and beneficial online learning is with strong time management skills and a regular (as possible) schedule.

Reach Out Early and Often

Your instructor, advisor, and other academic support offices are here to help, and it is never a bother to assist you. When you are confused or unsure who to reach out to, contact your advisor or instructor, and we can help guide you. If you have questions about course content, it’s always better to talk with your instructor early in the semester so that they can provide you with tips, advice, and guidance for success.

Discover How You Learn Best

Every person learns in different ways and is most successful in various formats. Maybe you need to do your work early in the morning with a cup of coffee and no background noise. Or perhaps your best work is done in the evening with some soft music as white noise. If you can identify the time and way you learn best and are most productive, it will have exponential benefits as you go through your courses.

Change Topics and Take Breaks

This may seem a little counterintuitive considering all the things pulling on your time, but your brain can only focus on one thing for so long. Sometimes to refresh and revitalize, you need to switch subjects or step away for a few minutes. The variety will allow your brain to rest and help you come back stronger as you continue your coursework.

Participate as Much as Possible

Take full advantage of any discussion groups, forums, virtual office hours from your instructors, and any other chances to engage. By connecting with others, you will reinforce your learning while also filling in gaps from their perspectives. The more your instructor sees you actively taking ownership of your learning through engagement, the more they can assist you and guide you through the process. You’ll build camaraderie with students and instructors and get so much more out of your courses!

Take Care of Yourself

This might be one of the most important tips while also being the one you may least prioritize. Between studying, working, family, and several other things, it can be challenging to take time for yourself and focus on remaining healthy. Make sure to set aside time to focus on your health—and this doesn’t just mean exercising. Whatever you need to stay in a positive and healthy state of being: prioritize those things as well!

Remember to visit the Ball State Online blog, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips, advice, and resources.

First Graduate of Sustainability Certificate, Roberto Fayad, Imagines the Impossible

Like many students, Roberto Fayad pursued the online graduate certificate in sustainability to launch his professional career and because of his passion for the principles of sustainability.

But unlike many others, he accomplished this while working on his bachelor’s in architecture.

Completing his certificate in 2020 earned him the proud distinction of being the first official alumnus of a program based on examining how current world needs can be met without compromising the resources needed by future populations.

Says Systematic Balance is Key

Roberto says it’s all about considering the interaction of economic, social, and environmental factors to achieve a systematic balance.

“With this certification, I am better equipped for my field,” says Roberto, who is now based in Chicago. “I hope firms that want to progress their architecture/design towards the future can see how sustainability is now a very important consideration.”

The 12-credit graduate certificate offers three focus areas, including environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

He Sees Return of Nature to Cities

“I strive to learn the true balance of nature and how an optimal functioning future could work, in terms of design overall,” says Roberto, who followed the environmental focus area. “I like to think of the bigger picture. I have a new and growing passion for urban design and sustainable cities, and I see the return of nature into the city in creating a new urban scape.”

For his bachelor’s thesis, entitled The Self-Sustaining City, he designed a mixed-use high-rise in the Lincoln Yards development in Chicago, Illinois. The thesis “explored the design of self-sufficient eco-blocks as an approach for cities to reduce the energy and resource footprint with the urban landscape.”

“Future is in Adaptable Designs”

“As our future depends on the existence of this planet, we designers and architects must strive to make our designs more adaptable and caring towards our planet, the people, and its economy,” says Roberto. “I firmly believe that the future of my field is in producing more mixed-use options, especially in an urban environment.”

He believes the program gave him “a greater knowledge and appreciation of how our world works and how there seems to be a balance that we must seek in terms of a sustainable future.”

Roberto particularly appreciated courses in ecological systems, material resources and waste, food systems, and energy resources.

Sustainability Courses Run for Five Weeks

Unlike many courses, graduate certificate courses in sustainability run for five weeks and provide one credit per course.

“Although the classes were only one credit, the work load was close to a normal three-credit elective course one would take on campus,” says Roberto, who finished the certificate in just three semesters.

“These courses have helped open my eyes to precedents in each field, their progression towards reducing waste and becoming more renewable to benefit the natural systems of this planet,” he says.

Roberto admits to being a dreamer.

He Imagines the Impossible

“My imagination always loves to wander, to imagine the ‘impossible.’ I look up to many famous designers/architects across the globe and hope that one day, I can be amongst the list of great designers in this world,” he says.

Not that he’s seeking a lifestyle of power and riches.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith in God, my mentors, and my family and friends,” he says. “I hope that one day, I can look back and say that a program like this is what started it all and how it has not only made an impact on my own life, but the life of others as well as the planet.”

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