As a young girl, Crystal Andrews seemed to have it all mapped out. She enjoyed her time in high school, earned decent grades and, as a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), had plans to join the Air Force after graduation and go to college debt-free. Unfortunately, just one week after graduating, her journey took an unpleasant detour when she blew out her knee. Uncertain of what to do next, she returned home to North Carolina and took a job working at Walmart.
Twelve years later, promoted to an Assistant Manager, Crystal still wanted to return to school but the prospect of taking out student loans felt like it was too much. “I just bought a house and I’m in debt for that. Do I really want to add student loan debt on top of that?” she wondered.
So when Walmart announced that its education benefits program, Live Better U, would provide associates the opportunity to earn a college degree for just $1 a day, she jumped at the opportunity.
Having never attended college before, Crystal started in the college prep program, College Start. Once enrolled, she was able to get adjusted to life as a working student while earning college credits before starting her $1-a-day degree program. “I actually feel more prepared having done College Start because now I have a better grasp on my time management and I understand what it takes to complete assignments,” she said.
Working school into your life is never easy at first, but the flexibility of online classes gave her the opportunity to evaluate her schedule and find the best place to fit in studies. For Crystal, that meant spending a few hours each day after getting home from the morning shift. Her days off were then reserved for catching up if she didn’t quite get through everything during the week.
To stay motivated, Crystal tried to remind herself of what an education would mean for her future. “All the time that you sit on the couch and watch TV, you know, is that really what you need to do? It’s taking your personal time, but do you want to move forward in your career and your education?” she asked.