Bradley Schmaling

Bradley wanted to make a difference, and he needed to make a change.

“I know when I was going to school twenty years ago, I didn’t really know why I was going,” he says. Now in his forties, Bradley left college without a degree, spending time raising a family and working a series of jobs, but always looking to finish what he’d started, in a way that connected his life experience and needs with the future he wanted.

“I knew I needed something that was tangible to me, something that I could actually relate to and do something with,” he says.

That’s what brought Bradley to the Bachelor’s in Integrated Professional Studies (BIPS), from UNCG Online. BIPS is designed for people looking for new opportunities and pathways to a brighter professional future.

“I needed a healthy change, and I found it in BIPS.”

Bradley’s experience with the practical, skills-focused courses offered in BIPS gave him the confidence to turn his day job into his own steadily growing business.

“I’m a massage therapist by training, and I started my own business in Chapel Hill doing massage,” Bradley says. “I want to work with the populace in a way that helps people live better, longer lives. The BIPS program has gifted me the ability to take on this endeavor.”

Bradley found that confidence through BIPS’ series of professionally-oriented courses. Design Thinking and Systems Thinking showed him how to effectively analyze problems and create new opportunities. Working on Contemporary Media Literacies gave him the technological skills and confidence to develop a compelling online presence, and promote his business more powerfully.

“I wasn’t confident enough up to this point to try and start something like that. I didn’t feel like I had enough knowledge behind my belt,” he says. “But as I’ve gone through the (BIPS courses), I started to appreciate how much I know, and how much I can actually do.”

“BIPS has fit my lifestyle to a T.”

A big obstacle to going back to school and finishing your degree is the time factor, especially when you’re growing your own business, like Bradley. BIPS is built for people who don’t want to waste time. A series of short, focused seven-week courses, taken completely online, empowers professionals with the knowledge they need to advance their careers and build something of their own, and still maintain a busy life too.

“It’s made it accessible for me that way,” Bradley says. “BIPS has allowed me to continue what’s important to me and my family, without taking away from them. I’m not having to take time out of school practices. I’m not having to miss a play.”

Bradley found that working online doesn’t mean working alone, either. BIPS courses attract a wide range of students from all walks of life, building a network of friends, peers and mentors, collaborating on group projects, guided by engaged, hands-on professors. It’s a way of learning that tracks with an increasingly online, globally distributed working world.

“It was actually more interaction than I ever expected,” Bradley says. “It’s more rewarding that the professor gets to directly talk to me and respond to me, and I see other classmates’ work, and I respond to their work. It’s been very fulfilling.”

With BIPS, Bradley has done more than just finish his degree—he’s found his calling, and made it into a growing business. Even greater than that, he’s discovered the power of achieving success on his terms.

“The BIPS program has helped me become aware of talents and strengths I didn’t know I possessed,” he says. “It helped me integrate what I wanted out of my undergraduate degree, to finish, and give me a sense of accomplishment. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”