In 2016, after separating from the Navy, Larry Lathrop and his wife made a home base in Valencia, Spain and began to travel the world with their five kids. This might make him sound like an atypical online university student, but Lathrop is currently earning his Master of Science in Applied Business Analytics 100% online from Jacksonville University.
Clearly, the Lathrop family is going places.
“We sold all our belongings to take our large family and travel,” Lathrop said. “Since leaving Jacksonville, we have visited Lisbon, Sevilla, Rome and Naples. We have many more to go on our bucket list.”
Lathrop already is familiar with being an adult learner – he worked on earning his Master of Science in Organizational Leadership at JU’s main campus. After he finished his MSOL courses, he decided to pursue the MSABA degree to add in-depth applied business analytics knowledge to his skill set. He chose JU’s MSABA because he needed an online program from an AACSB-accredited institution.
“It worked out perfectly for my family and I – we get the freedom to travel, and I still get to work on my degree,” Lathrop said.
The MSABA program also was ideal for Lathrop because he sought ways to help improve his family’s e-commerce business, which consists of three ventures, including Girly Momma Designs, LLC, which started as a craft business on Etsy, eBay and Amazon. During the past few years, they have evolved into a wall decal business. The family plans to launch another business called Smoochies that makes wine glass sets for couples. Their family blog will also provide useful information to families looking to travel with children.
“I love to run numbers and improve the operations of our business,” Lathrop said. “What a good fit to get training in analytics. I just finished most of my MSOL on campus and felt that the ROI was so rewarding for our business. It just seemed smarter to go with the school that already gave a great ROI and get more out of my education. This program has not yet let me down, even for being strictly online.”
As an online student, Lathrop enjoys the flexibility, but said his main challenge is the time difference when attending the course live sessions. He often stays up on Thursdays until 2:00 a.m. in Spain. However, his professors have all been willing to work with him, and will record sessions and post them in the class in case he or other students miss the sessions.
“Most of my undergrad was completed online, and this service is something that set JU apart from other schools,” Lathrop said. “In a case where I might have issues, my professors have been more than willing to work with me. It is great to have a professor that is understanding and willing to work with students. They really display a desire for the students to learn the information, not just get the grade.”
He also sometimes encounters issues with internet connections abroad, meaning he must plan ahead on his coursework.
His advice to prospective online students is to communicate with instructors beforehand so they are aware of situations, watch the live lessons and recordings to stay engaged with the course and seek instructor support when needed.
“Lastly, do not stress and ask for help,” Lathrop said.
Lathrop has done both online and campus-based study with JU. He said he has — and will continue to –recommend JU to anyone considering business schools.
“To be honest, I wish I would have completed my undergrad here as well,” Lathrop said. “The staff and education requirements have really set this school apart from the other (and there were over six for undergrad) schools I have attended. I am proud to tell others I am an alumnus from JU and got my education at the Davis College of Business.”
Lathrop plans to graduate from JU in Spring 2019 with his MSOL and MSABA degrees. He has three goals after completing his degrees, including continuing to further his education.
“The first is to improve and grow our family business,” he said. “The second is to share and help other businesses with my skill sets anywhere I can assist, and the last is to continue my education to the doctoral level.”