Going back to school can be time-consuming and arduous, but completing your degree with your spouse can make the experience worthwhile. That’s what AIU Online Alumni Philip “Skip” and Candy Edie learned. The key to their successes? One word: Support. “Just having my best friend know what school meant to me and going through it with me—and me knowing what school meant to her and being with her—was the best part,” said Skip.
Studying side by side, Candy and Skip earned their Bachelor of Business Administration degrees in 2010 with specializations in Healthcare Management and Operations Management, respectively, and their Master of Business Administration degrees with specializations in Healthcare Management in 2011. Skip also attained his Associate of Arts in Business Administration with a General Business specialization from AIU in 2009. “Together we were writing the next chapter in our lives,” Skip said.
Both Skip and Candy have a passion for healthcare and have worked at the same hospitals together. However, they realized that without degrees, they weren’t paid as much as those with degrees. “People could say, ‘They do very good work, and they’ll do it really cheap.’ We didn’t want that,” Candy said. “We live in a rural area and wanted someone to look at our resumes and say, ‘Yes, let’s talk to them.’ The only way to do that is with a degree.” (Read more about how a business degree can benefit those in healthcare careers.)
Skip echoed her sentiments. “I had reached the point where by taking large risks, I was able to advance my career and achieve titles such as chief information officer. But I realized I wasn’t paid as much as a chief information officer without a degree. I looked at my resume and realized if that job title disappeared, I wouldn’t get a second consideration with just a high school degree.”
Skip was the one who discovered AIU Online. “AIU appeared to me on Military.com. I’m a vet and was looking through articles, and an AIU ad popped up. A couple of my close friends had kept after me to pursue a degree. I saw the ad, clicked the link, and the rest was magic.” Candy researched different online schools before she began her own educational journey, and while there were many options, AIU Online still emerged the victor. “Many [schools] required attendance and time commitments [at specific days and times]. Skip and I will put in the time, but it needs to be on our schedule,” Candy said. “AIU Online was the only one with that flexibility and the staff to help us. Other schools didn’t give us the same level of comfort.”
Together, they became a well-oiled machine with their studies. “We were empty nesters with careers, so we stretched the study time into what worked for us. Many Saturday evenings and Sunday marathons occurred to complete our assignments,” Skip said. They also found time on the road to tackle their schoolwork. “It was an hour drive to and from work for us. So we would take turns driving every day so the other could complete the coursework. It would’ve been an hour wasted if we just drove,” said Candy. At home, they did the same thing, Skip said. “We would alternate duties and responsibilities so one or the other had time to do their studies, while the other did various chores. We alternated our efforts to move both our needs forward. … AIU allowed us that flexibility.”
While this would be a challenging feat for most, they excelled at multitasking. Candy said, “If I don’t have six things to do at once, my mind starts to wander because it has free time.”
Halfway through their bachelor’s degrees, Skip and Candy decided to pursue their master’s degrees. “There were job opportunities that we wanted which required a master’s. We already had our routine and we were used to the time commitment. We supported each other,” Candy said. Skip agreed. “If married couples’ goals run that closely together, make a commitment to do it. That’s what we did. We made a commitment to it, we lived up to it, we’re not looking back, and the future is bright.”
Today, they live in northern New York. Skip is the Associate Executive Director at the Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country and Candy is a Senior Consultant at Navin, Haffty & Associates, a healthcare consulting firm based in Massachusetts. “These are career opportunities both of us wanted in the past,” Candy said. “[Getting a degree] is hard work, but if you focus on the time you’re giving up when your friends are out on a Saturday, you’ll lose sight of your goal and the experience of learning. You have to know why you’re doing it to stay motivated. If you don’t have a clear goal you’ll procrastinate instead of working as hard as you can.”
Today, Skip and Candy are proud to say that they both graduated with 4.0 grade point averages and their incomes doubled since they attained their MBAs. “The best part of doing it was doing it together,” Candy said. “A great marriage is just the start of a great life, and AIU made both the marriage and life better through personal growth that each partner supports and shares.” The main takeaway for other couples, Skip echoed again, “Be supportive of each other.”