When she first enrolled in CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI)’s Extended University in Fall of 2021, Joley Hidaka, 54, didn’t tell any of her coworkers she was going back to college.

“Because it was embarrassing,” Hidaka said. “I’m a grown woman going back to college. I didn’t want to look stupid, and what if I couldn’t do it? “

But when she finally admitted to her supervisor that she was going to complete a four-year degree she started in the 1980s, her supervisor was not only pleased, but offered to let the company pay for her books and tuition.

“I said ‘I want to go to Channel Islands and get my bachelor’s degree, and they were like ‘What do you need? What can we do?’” Hidaka said. “I was crying…ugly bawling.”

CSUCI Extended University (EU) is equipped to help adult students—working professionals—turn a dream delayed into a dream realized with EU’s Degree Completion program.

“The program is designed for transfer students who are looking to take a program that’s flexible and year-round so they can complete their degree on time,” said Extended University’s Director of Enrollment, Outreach and Student Affairs, Daniel Banyai. “There is a dedicated staff of program directors who support students, and the setup is either 100 percent online or in the evenings so it’s designed for the working professional.”

Extended University offers bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, Business and Psychology, and because Nursing requires some hands-on classes and clinical training, the Nursing program is a hybrid program with part of the courses online and part in-person.

Hidaka took some community college courses in after graduating from Adolfo Camarillo High School in 1986, but never finished.

“I didn’t have the funds or the motivation and I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said.

Hidaka got married, had a child, and began working as an executive assistant in an office.

Her wake-up call was when a new woman began working at the office where Hidaka was employed and was promoted to manager over Hidaka.

 “I had been with the company for years, but she got the promotion because she had a college degree—and it was in fine art!” Hidaka said.

Hidaka worried that credits she earned in 1986 wouldn’t transfer well, and how would she find the time for school? But in 2019, she enrolled in Moorpark College and then transferred to CSUCI Extended University to earn her BS in Business.

The best part, Hidaka said, was how smoothly Moorpark College’s Program for Accelerated College Education (PACE) and CSUCI EU worked to transfer her 1986 credits toward her degree. All she had to do was sign up, pay her fees, and do her homework.  

“I absolutely would not have been able to go back to school without the advantage of the fully online asynchronous program,” she said. “I work from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, come home, take care of dinner (takeout more often than I’d like) and work on homework until bedtime.”

Hidaka looks forward to graduating in December and celebrating.

 “You will see me on Tik Tok because I’ll be boogying!” she said.

Besides the main campus in Camarillo, there is a campus in Goleta, which was a big advantage for Santa Barbara County native Patrick Robertson, who enrolled in Extended University to complete his degree in Psychology while working full-time.

“I went to Cal Poly SLO (CSU San Luis Obispo) right out of high school and they required you to pick a major,” Robertson said. “At 18, I wound up changing my major three different times. I ended up leaving Santa Barbara and went to Seattle and worked for a while. It was the first time I had been out of school, ever.”

There, Robertson met a pastor who became a golfing buddy and mentor, and encouraged Robertson to return to school.

“He told me my undergrad degree is really just a foundation and I didn’t need to be too specific. Second, he said follow your curiosity. I was always caught between deciding on a job that was going to make me a lot of money versus something I would enjoy, and I was always interested in the social sciences.”

Robertson eventually returned to Santa Barbara and began working full-time writing online courses for a tech company—specifically involving mental health. He also volunteered at a psychiatric facility began coaching a San Luis Obispo soccer team. He learned he was passionate about learning how to help each player develop into the best they could be.

He decided he wanted to earn his degree in Psychology.

Robertson was almost 30 years old and had no idea how he’d manage a job and school until a bus drove by with a sign about the partnership between Santa Barbara City College and CSUCI’s Extended University. Many classes were online and for in person classes, there was a campus in Goleta, where he lived.

Robertson, now 33, graduated with his B.S. in Psychology in 2021, and now plans to pursue a Ph.D. at Fuller Theological Seminary.

“Having an undergrad degree opened doors I would not have even been able to knock on,” he said. “CSUCI and Extended University was a huge stepping stone for me.”

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