Sidni L. Shorter is the master of making it work.
“It” being project planning, time management, and implementation.
She is graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette this spring with her bachelor’s degree from the General Studies online program with a concentration in Behavioral Science.
Shorter began her college career at UL Lafayette in the 1970s when it was the University of Southwestern Louisiana. She majored in Sociology and minored in Business Administration.
She stopped short of finishing her degree, leaving to start her family and her career.
“Life started quick,” Shorter says.
Even as the flow of life picked up speed, Shorter did not stop pursuing educational opportunities.
“Over the years, I have done what I consider pieces of degrees, but the idea of still finishing at UL Lafayette stayed with me,” Shorter says.
Through a friend, Shorter heard about the CompeteLA program and thought it might be a promising path forward. The University of Louisiana System initiative, CompeteLA, began in 2019 to help the more than 653,000 adults in Louisiana who have earned some college credits but no degree.
“She happened to mention it so I looked it up, and it was like ‘Wow, okay, let me see if this is something that I would qualify for,’” Shorter says.
She spoke with a coach in the program who evaluated her previously earned credits and recommended a degree track. From there, she says, it was a smooth transition to enrolling at UL Lafayette online.
“It was really a really good experience. I certainly appreciated how they made sure they understood what I wanted and recognized what I was bringing to the table as an adult learner.”
Once enrolled, Shorter “aggressively jumped in” to the online schooling experience. In the fall of 2020, Shorter tackled eight classes and made it onto the Dean’s List.
Years of business experience gave Shorter an idea of how to approach the online classes.
“Essentially, I project managed it,” Shorter says. “I worked backwards based on the intended outcome so I could ensure I had the time allowed for what I needed to achieve or deliver.”
Shorter’s self-discipline and time management is well documented. Her husband snapped photos of her studying on business trips — and on a seaside vacation. She shares the photos with the hashtags #DistanceLearning and #IStudyEverywhere.
Shorter is the CEO of a finance and accounting firm she acquired five years ago. They predominantly work with small to mid-size non-profit companies and offer virtual support.
Her return to the University coincided closely with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many businesses during the shutdown, Shorter’s firm saw record revenue growth – which is to say they were extremely busy.
While leading her company through outstanding productivity, Shorter and her husband were also taking care of their granddaughter full time for several months. Ever the manager, Shorter integrated pre-K lessons into their shared day and incorporated enrichment activities and play time into the afternoon.
“We made a deal that we would ‘work’ at the same time and take our breaks and meals together,” Shorter says. “She had her classroom space, and I had my office space at home. It was important to establish these spaces and to leave them behind at the end of the day each day.”
Worth the wait
Accomplished as she is in her own right, Shorter’s return to undergraduate studies has proven to be more than a means to finish what she started decades ago. She says her online courses have provided new tools and an expanded network.
“Actually, I have already capitalized on aspects of what I learned from my two business classes last semester to gain a new corporate client with international reach,” she says.
What’s more, Shorter was able to make meaningful connections among her classmates.
“There is a young lady I met, and we have agreed to reconnect after graduation because I immediately wanted to hire her. She’s in the military right now and she’s an absolute rock star,” she says.
“People may not imagine themselves building connections or friendships or any networking with distance learning,” Shorter says. “But I compare it to online dating: people meet partners online and make lifetime commitments so why would distance learning be absent of that opportunity?”
As she prepares to close the book on her bachelor’s degree, Shorter considers what advice she would give a prospective student.
“I would say: Be committed to the intended outcome. Be an advocate for yourself.”
Request information today to learn more about the degree programs and opportunities available through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette online.