Anthony Banks

When I told a former co-worker that I would really like to go back to school, she highly recommended the Graduate! Philadelphia program. She told me that they were located near the Gallery mall in center city Philadelphia and that they would help me with applying for financial aid and provide other valuable assistance – and their services were free!  If Graduate! Philadelphia provided that one service alone, I would have been extremely grateful.  All of the procedures involved with applying for financial aid were more intimidating to me than returning to La Salle University after my decades of absence.

I watched the Graduate! Philadelphia video on their website and I was instantly impressed and inspired.  It felt good to know that this organization existed to help adults like myself who wanted to return to school, but who are unsure of how to make it happen.  When I called, I talked to a wonderful person named Sarah Byker James.  We talked about my goals and she told me how Graduate! Philadelphia could help me.  I made an appointment to meet her.  There were many, very real, factors to consider, including balancing a full-time job with school work and the lack of encouragement from someone in my life, but when I thought it was impossible, Sarah helped me to sort things out.  With Graduate! Philadelphia’s help, I had begun!

My return to school was both emotional and dramatic.  I was amazed at the joy I felt just walking on campus again to my first class – and soon I was amazed also at how unexpected challenges could hit so soon.  I had a potentially major conflict with an instructor.  I called Graduate! Philadelphia.  Sarah told me previously that if I had issues with teachers, she would be willing to help in any way she could.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt knowing that was true and being able to tell Sarah what had happened.  So much changes when you know someone is on your side and wants victory for you.  It is so much easier to regain your sense of balance and peace of mind.

Sarah listened with a very sympathetic ear and voiced just what I was thinking, “You do not need this in your first week back!”  Sarah proceeded to calm me down and coached me through writing a forthright, yet tactful, e-mail to my Professor.  She reminded me to include in the e-mail that I had looked forward to this class, which made what happened even more startling.  With Sarah’s help, I ended the e-mail in such a way that it invited his reply, without assumption on my part.  The Professor replied to me apologizing sincerely, and then he apologized to the whole class because the issue affected all of us.  This could have easily gone in another direction if I didn’t have Sarah at Graduate! Philadelphia to lean on for help and I let Sarah know it!  This was just one of many times that Graduate! Philadelphia helped me in many ways.

Another example is the excellent seminar that Laticia Booker presented at Graduate! Philadelphia which helped me with the inevitable increase in stress levels.  But as Laticia showed us, there were solutions for this as well.

Don’t think it’s too late. When I came to Graduate! Philadelphia for help, I had been out of school for decades and they helped me to graduate. There was a lot to be done, including lining up the financing then balancing a full-time job with school work, but it made all the difference that I did not have to go on this journey alone.  I cannot describe the exhilaration that my graduation from college made me feel, then and now!  I also joined the team of Advisors at Graduate! Philadelphia, helping other adults achieve their college education goals.

So if you are thinking about returning to school, don’t focus on all the reasons why you, or others, think you can’t.  Contact Graduate! Philadelphia and let us help you see a variety of solutions and all the reasons why you can! Don’t put off your dreams. Don’t postpone your joy. You’ve waited long enough.

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