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How Academic Advisor and Career Coach Ivan Nicholson Supports University of Phoenix Students

Ivan Nicholson works with University of Phoenix students as an academic advisor and career coach. Specifically, Nicholson interacts with two primary student demographics: military veterans and students who have received a scholarship. He states that military veterans have many benefits available to them but are often unaware of scholarship opportunities. Nicholson helps them research scholarships to get additional help paying for higher education.

Nicholson describes the unique challenges of military students who sometimes have to drop all responsibilities at home to report back to the military. University of Phoenix has remained flexible with these students to ensure they can finish their programs. From a personal perspective, Nicholson finds it rewarding to help veterans transition to a new career after retiring from the military. He understands that many of these students feel unsure about the type of career they would eventually like to pursue after enrolling at University of Phoenix.

Nicholson also explains that many veterans do not have a clear focus regarding education when they come home from active duty service. He encourages them to think of education as a tool they can use to build their future life. One saying he often shares with University of Phoenix students is “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” He is referring to the need to plan for the future before it gets here.

Changes in Education

One of the biggest changes Nicholson has seen in education over the years is that colleges and universities are now working to fit it into students’ lives rather than requiring students to rearrange their lives to get an education. Higher education administrators have a greater understanding of the many responsibilities adult students must manage while completing their degree or educational programs. 

Changes in the Workplace

With many businesses shifting toward a digital format, Nicholson sees education as key to people keeping their skills updated and remaining competitive. Nicholson often works with students who have been in their career for a long time and who are ready for a greater challenge. He encourages students to prepare for what the future might bring and to feel at peace with not knowing exactly what might happen. Nicholson makes it a point to ask in-depth questions about a student’s motivations to help point them in the right direction.

Diversity and Inclusion in Education and Work

As an African American man, Nicholson appreciates that University of Phoenix shares his commitment to diversity and inclusion. The University gives employees the option to join one of several resource groups with peers who share common interests. . As students transition to the working world, he encourages them to seek employers that understand the importance of diverse backgrounds and perspectives from both employees and customers.

Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Because University of Phoenix serves mostly working adults, it retained flexibility for students and staff throughout the pandemic. Many of its employees work from home, and staff have been understanding of students needing to suddenly manage more tasks such as having their children complete remote learning at home. Nicholson feels that his own experience as a working parent of twin toddlers has helped him have even greater empathy toward student struggles. Becoming a parent has changed his life the most and given him greater passion than he already had to help people realize their goals.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix opened in 1976 in response to the changing needs of the workplace and of non-traditional college students. John Sterling, PhD, founded University of Phoenix and brought his experience as an entrepreneur, economist, and professor with him. Sterling’s goal was to create a university that prepared students for a changing workplace while still allowing them to meet other obligations.

The world has changed even more dramatically in the 45 years since University of Phoenix opened. With advances in technology and the changing demographic of more people than ever working from home, current University of Phoenix staff work hard to live up to Sterling’s vision every day. As Nicholson demonstrated in his interview, the University offers a wide range of resources and ongoing support to help students succeed whatever their future endeavors may be.