Jason “Dr. Stan” Stanfield, assistant professor of accounting at Ball State University, can easily relate to the nontraditional students coming to Ball State Online for its new online Bachelor’s in Accounting. He readily admits that if he had not met his now wife at the age of 19, he doubts he would have finished his undergraduate degree. Stanfield persevered and got through his undergraduate career but didn’t do very well—which he says “was okay,” but ultimately meant that he wasn’t particularly competitive for accounting jobs, his chosen career field.

After stints with entrepreneurship and sales, Stanfield decided he wanted to return to school for an MBA and chose Ball State to do that. Through online classes, Stanfield earned his MBA and quickly found that he was more excited working on class projects and assignments than what he was doing for his day job. This led him to pursue a PhD and, eventually, join the ranks of Ball State’s faculty.

None of this would have been possible had he not had those MBA online classes, which is why he’s so excited to launch the new online accounting program.

Opportunities Abound

“Ball State has a long tradition of excellence in accounting. We have a multitude of graduates who are serving in positions across the state, the Midwest, and across the nation, says Stanfield.

“This includes public accounting firms, private and public businesses, government, nonprofits, education—just about everywhere. We want to expand our reach of who we can bring our offerings to, so the accounting program is being expanded to include an online degree.”

For nontraditional students for whom distance, time commitments, or being on campus are barriers, this new program will offer the chance to earn an education and move up in their career or even kickstart a second or third career.

“The career goals of someone who is starting a Bachelor’s in Accounting straight out of high school may not be the same as someone who has been out of college for some time,” explains Dr. Stan.

“We realize that with our online students, maybe they found that they needed more education in their current job role in order to [be promoted], or maybe they want to make a career change and move into a second or third career. We expect to see more diversity with our online students.”

New Program Breeds Invention

The online program itself has been in development for several years, but like so many things in our lives, it was delayed due to the pandemic. Ball State had to start teaching online out of necessity, and the online program was put on hold.

And yet, “necessity is the mother of invention,” says Stanfield. Due to that delay, those developing the online accounting program were able to learn and adapt as they went, thinking of new things for the stalled program as they taught online.

Once things settled down and everyone was back on campus, it was obvious that the online accounting program was something worth pursuing and launching.

For “Dr. Stan,” It’s Personal

Overall, Stanfield and his colleagues are overjoyed to bring this online bachelor’s degree to Ball State. For Stanfield in particular, it takes on a more personal note.

“I’m really excited to see what my colleagues do with this program and how I can learn from that, but I’m also excited to connect with first-generation college students like myself, teach them what I’ve learned outside the classroom, the norms—things that students whose families have a background in higher education, they already know. Similarly, I love connecting with nontraditional students and seeing them succeed.”