Missouri State University

Amber Donaldson

Mom's mission: finish college

Amber Donaldson sensed her opportunity.  

The mother of four enrolled her youngest kids – twin boys – in preschool. She had been a stay-at-home mom since earning her associate's degree in 2007. 

“I've always wanted to get my (bachelor's) degree," Donaldson said. "My twins were in preschool, finally. I wanted to finish that (degree).”  

Searching for the right major

Donaldson's return meant getting proactive.

“I was wondering how to make a custom degree out of the classes I wanted to take,” she said. “Although there is a degree to do this (individualized major), I didn't need it to be customized to that extent.” 

She visited the Missouri State Bookstore.  

“I told them what books I wanted to learn and then I looked (programs) up that way – these classes teach this curriculum – based off the textbooks they had,” Donaldson said. “That's really what I was looking for: ‘I need to learn this program, this one, this one. Which classes do I need to take to piece that together?’” 

Finding the right major 

Donaldson had blogging and social media experience. She thought about pursuing a major called creative technology.  

“MSU offers something similar (electronic media) but it wasn't exactly what I was looking for,” Donaldson said.  

Donaldson met with her advisor. They discussed the bachelor of general studies program.  

In the BGS program, you blend two-to-three academic areas into one, broad-focused degree. It's a common option for students who started college but never finished their bachelor’s degree.   

Donaldson's BGS degree mixes art (photography, design) and business (marketing, computer information systems). 

“It's a perfect blend for me," Donaldson said. “I feel like I majored in what I wanted to. Even though it says general studies, it's very customized.” 

Donaldson pays part of her tuition costs with a Return to Learn scholarship

Meaningful classes, connections 

Donaldson splits time between Brick City (art) and the newly renovated Glass Hall (business).  

“Marketing aspects have been very helpful,” Donaldson said. “In the past, I'd try to do things like get my blog up and going, but I wasn't sure on the marketing aspects. 

“In my advanced advertising class, we work with real clients and pitch campaigns to them. Having that real-world experience has been vital to rounding out my college education.” 

Donaldson will have many career options when she graduates in spring 2019. She could work for a company or start her own small business. 

“I'm learning how to network and cross between groups,” Donaldson said. “Each of my teachers do an excellent job of making me want to excel in every niche field I've made for myself.”