Argosy University Blog

Earning an Advanced Degree in your 30s, 40s, or even 50s—Tales of a Non-Traditional Student


There are many reasons the people return to school after years in the workforce. They may be looking to move up in their career, want a change of direction, or want to show their own children that it’s possible to balance work, life, and continuing education.

Going back to school to earn an advanced degree was always in the back of Bahareh Sahebi’s mind. Sahebi is currently a student working toward a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology at Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Schaumburg. She had a genuine interest in psychology and even earned undergraduate degrees in sociology and psychology. But once she completed her four-year degrees, she entered the working world as a corporate business analyst and project manager.

After years in the business world, she decided to follow her passion for psychology. She went back to school as a non-traditional student and completed a master’s degree. Sahebi continued into Argosy University’s Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program.

As an older student, the transition was initially difficult—but she quickly found her place thanks to the school’s supportive faculty who helped her to re-adjust to academic life. “One of my biggest challenges throughout graduate school was to find my own place as a student transitioning from a non-traditional academic background and also changing careers,” she said. “One thing I appreciated about the program was the diversity in the student population’s age and previous career backgrounds.”

Sahebi added that she was grateful for faculty members who took the time to get to know her—and other non-traditional students in her class. “The instructors provided opportunities to help me bridge my skills from a previous career into competencies within the program that ultimately helped to enrich my overall experience as both a graduate student and a launching professional,” she said.

Today, Sahebi is working in a two-year residency program as a postdoctoral clinical scholar fellow at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She works with individuals, families, and couples in a clinical setting. And she encourages others in her position to step outside of their comfort zones—whether it means pursuing a degree as a non-traditional college student or finding the courage to overcome a fear of public speaking. “Ask for feedback and take advantage of the many resources at Argosy University, including tutors to help you refine skills,” she mentioned.

Going back to school after a career in any industry can feel intimidating. But the support non-traditional students receive at Argosy University help them to transition back into the classroom and prepare for a new career. Learn how you can return to school to fulfill your career goals by contacting an admissions representative at Argosy University. You may also take an online classroom tour and see the many program options available in undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs.

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Argosy University, Online Programs Psychology Graduate Rebecca Bailey Beats the Odds to Survive—and Thrive


It was the summer in 2012, and Rebecca Bailey knew something was terribly wrong.

Bailey, who worked in a group home providing care for the mentally challenged, had been experiencing excruciating headaches, tremors, memory loss, and incontinence. “I was gradually losing control of my body and I didn’t know why,” she recalls. “There were days when I could barely hold my head up. I looked like a bobblehead doll.”

One night, after dropping a full pan of spaghetti on the kitchen floor, Bailey was rushed to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed a birth defect in her brain stem and performed emergency surgery, removing fluid on her brain and correcting a life-threatening blockage

“Most people make it through life without ever seeing pictures of their brains,” says Bailey, now 46. “But within a period of a few months, I saw dozens of photos of mine—everything from x-rays to brains scans and MRI images.”

As she recovered from the surgery, Bailey had plenty of time to reflect on her life—and on all of the things she wished were different. She felt like she was being given a second chance, and she was determined to make it count.

“It occurred to me that I had a pretty resilient brain,” says Bailey, who lives in Elwood City, Pennsylvania. “After racking up $110,000 in medical bills, I remember thinking it was time to see how far my expensive brain could take me.”

Motivated by a desire to better understand some of the things that have happened in her life—and her reactions to them—she decided to return to college after 20 years to pursue her degree in Psychology at Argosy University.

“I wanted to earn a degree that would allow me to improve my own life—and to help others improve theirs,” she explains. “I’ve experienced a lot of pain and seen a lot of destruction in my life. I have family members who have struggled with everything from alcoholism to heroin addiction. I spent years hiding my son from his father, who had serious substance abuse issues. Two of my son’s childhood friends and a family member have died from opioid addiction Deciding to go back to college gave me a sense of hope at a time when hope was in short supply.”

Bailey was accepted into the Psychology program at Argosy University, Online Programs and started classes in December of 2014.

“At first, I was intimidated,” she remembers. “My computer skills were pretty much nonexistent, and it had been a long time since I first attended college. I was also working full time during my first year at Argosy. But I had a strong desire to improve my life. I enrolled in the online program because I wanted plenty of flexibility. It took a while to develop good study habits and learn how to keep distractions to a minimum.”

Bailey was on track and thriving when, in May of 2016, she received another jarring health diagnosis: breast cancer. A lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy followed, as did an infection in her lymph nodes. Bailey says the moral support she received throughout the ordeal from her Argosy success advisor, Jennifer Rauch, and her financial aid counselor, Morgan Gilbert, lifted her spirits and reminded her to stay focused on the future.

“When I began the online program, I was concerned that I’d feel isolated and alone,” says Bailey. “But Jennifer was always there for me, especially when I was dealing with my cancer diagnosis. She had been my success advisor for two and a half years at that point, but we didn’t actually meet face to face until we had lunch in Pittsburgh the day of my first chemo treatment. She listened as I cried, and she encouraged me to take advantage of Argosy’s counseling services. I also got to meet Morgan, who helped provide a real sense of comfort throughout the chaos. The treatment took a lot out of me, and Morgan reminded me how strong I really was.”

Bailey says her faith and the support of her three children (Collin, Will and Jordyn) kept her motivated to stay focused on her education. In December, 2017, Bailey earned her BA in Psychology (with a concentration in Substance Abuse)—with a 3.7 GPA. She just landed a job in insurance sales and will continue volunteering through her church, providing support services to the homeless. With the help of her degree, Bailey also has a paid internship lined up at Beckley Comprehensive Treatment Center in Beaver, West Virginia. She will be coached on how to help individuals overcome substance dependency, as well as how to conduct group and individual counseling there. 

Bailey recently spoke in front of the Argosy University, Online Programs staff in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She shared her story told here, and delivered a heartfelt 'thank you' to her personal Argosy University, Online Programs advisor's who were in the room. She brought everyone in the room to tears, as well as displayed a real-life example of an online student with her story, hurdles, tragedy, and current successes. She showed a real purpose and live motivation for what Argosy advisors do daily. 

“I feel like the past six years have really tested me—and I passed,” says Bailey. “If I can make it through everything that’s happened in my life so far, I feel like I’m ready for anything.” ###

Pictured: Rebecca with her advisors and Rebecca speaking at Argosy University, Online Programs on 2/1/18.

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Spotlight on Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology – Argosy University, Dallas


The Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology degree program at Argosy University, Dallas offers a variety of experiences beyond just getting your education. We have an official mascot – Underdog. Why - because in our field we often support those who have very unique needs and are often seen as the expected loser in a legal issue. We wear the cape with pride.

This program teaches more than just the behavior expected of criminals. We teach why those behaviors may become criminal behaviors and we use a multidimensional approach to understanding forensic psychology. Here are a few of the important components of our program:

We offer a Field Placement to students who attend on campus in the blended format. We offer comprehensive Examination Preparation Workshops.

Our graduates work in a variety of fields including Juvenile and Adult Probation, local police departments, recovery agencies, court ordered treatment agencies, and the criminal justice field. Some of our graduates go on to doctoral programs.

Dr. Debbra Jennings is the Chair of the program and teaches several of the courses. She brings years of experience in evaluation and intervention, program development, and teaching. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychology-Law Division – Division 41 of the American Psychological Association, the Dallas Forensic Group, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Come see what we are all about. Visit a class to experience the energy. Dr. Jennings can be reached through her email at

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Argosy University, 5001 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, Heritage Square, Dallas, TX 75244 © 2017 Argosy University. All rights reserved. Our email address is
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