'A Big Leap'
Graduating student looks back on success at Virtues
A year after graduating from high school, Sadie found herself in a situation that is familiar to many students her age.
She was enrolled in a local college, spending money, time, and effort on courses, but she still had no idea what she wanted to do with her life or how to get there.
“In high school I thought, whatever I want to major in, whatever I want to do in my life, it’s just going to come to me,” Sadie said. “But later I realized it’s not going to just come to me. It takes a lot of learning and self-discovery.”
So she set out on a new mission — researching faith-based schools that could help her find direction, but were still affordable.
“I wanted to go to a Christian college, but they’re so expensive,” Sadie said.
That’s when she found The Virtues Campus.
Virtues offered a Christ-centered education, help with calling and career, and discounted tuition through an accredited partner university.
“I’m so glad I found Virtues,” Sadie said. “God was leading me here, and it’s so nice seeing that clear path that God paved the way for me.”
Fast forward to two years later, and Sadie is on track to graduate debt-free with an associate’s degree, confidence in her future path, and stronger than ever in her faith.
“To think about where I was when I graduated high school to where I am right now, it’s crazy to think about how much I’ve grown — that in just a few years I’ve made such a big leap,” she said.
How did she get here?
Sadie’s first step as a Virtues student was to take Career Direct — a faith-based, in-depth career assessment given to all Virtues Campus students. She followed that up with a one-on-one consultation that helped her review her results and figure out her next steps.
“Career Direct has been everything for me,” Sadie said. “It helped me study myself, and I’d never done that before. It was so accurate. I started to feel some relief.”
That feeling continued to grow as she worked through the Virtues program, as several courses utilize the Career Direct results to help students understand more about themselves and their calling.
“I can’t even describe how much this program has meant to me — helping me discover who I am and who God made me to be,” Sadie said.
In addition to helping her find her path, Virtues also has had a tremendous impact on her faith. Sadie said that, like many other college students, she wasn’t as strong in her beliefs as she thought she was coming out of high school.
“I didn’t think that was something that I would lose when I graduated,” she said. “But I started to question what I believed in, and that led me down a bad path. Virtues brought me back to God.”
Sadie said some of her favorite classes at Virtues include the “Understanding the Times” series. The courses give students an in-depth understanding of the major religions and worldviews throughout the world today and how they impact society.
“I’m able to identify and pay attention to other worldviews in my everyday life,” she said. “And learning about them also helped strengthen my faith. People ask me why I’m a Christian, and I think it makes my answer even stronger.”
With more and more students leaving college with an enormous amount of student loans to repay, Sadie knew that she didn’t want to become a similar statistic.
“Right now, people pretty much just pick any college after high school. They look at colleges, go visit, and pick one, no matter if they know what they’re going to do or not,” she said. “I hear from students about being $40,000 to $60,000 in debt. And my friends would say, ‘Sadie, just take out student loans and go.’”
Instead, she chose to take advantage of the affordable online tuition offered through Virtues’ partner, Waldorf University. Combining those savings with money from her part-time job, Sadie has been able to pay for school without loans, and is proud to say she will be graduating from Virtues debt-free.
“It’s just crazy to think about,” she said. “I never thought I would be that driven and that I would be able to do it. But I made a goal, and I stuck with it.”
As for her future plans, Sadie will be attending Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, this fall to continue her pursuit of a four-year degree in Biology.
When asked why she chose Waldorf when she had the option to continue her education at a different university, she pointed to the campus visit that Virtues students made last fall.
“It felt like a community,” she said. “Even though I had been doing school there over a screen, it felt like I already knew them. It just felt like home.”
With her time at The Virtues Campus nearing an end, Sadie encourages other students to consider what the program has to offer, especially if they are still trying to figure out what they want to do in the future.
“I think the quality of education here is better than where I went my first year, and anywhere else I could have gone,” she said. “Virtues gave me that faith-based, Christian community college feel. I got more hands-on attention here and still had that feeling of community.”