Category Archives: News and Information

8 Secrets of Top Classroom Learners

By Cindy Chambers, PR Director

Being a strong face-to-face student isn’t easy. After all, adult learners juggle a variety of challenges and responsibilities, and 6 p.m. doesn’t bring an end to any of them. After a long day of work – whether that work is primarily physical or mental — it’s challenging to summon the energy required to engage and learn. But as a classroom instructor for nearly a decade, I’ve noticed that some students rise and shine better than others. Today, I’ll share the secrets of their success, and urge you to apply them to your own efforts. Chances are, they’ll make your academic journey better than you ever thought possible!


1. Disengage from the day before starting your night.  

Whether you’ve left the office with a deadline looming, or left the house with a toddler crying, making the switch from “real life” to “school life” can be difficult. As you drive to class, do your best to leave the things you left behind, truly behind. Put in a favorite CD and sing along; chat with a friend on the phone; or just mentally compose yourself for the class ahead.


2. Wake up your brain    

Studies show that even brains on auto-mode after a full day can be awakened with just a few simple tricks. Caffeine (in moderation) has been shown to boost brain power; if you need to make a run through Starbuck’s, it might be the perfect day to do so! Peppermint — whether in the form of candy, mints, or chewing gum – can wake up more than just your mouth: It’s also been shown to boost test scores. And listening to classical music or comedy before class does more than just entertain – it can even change brain waves, making you more alert and open to learning.

3. Be prepared.

The best students come to class ready to learn, with the proper textbook, completed homework, and necessary materials at their fingertips. If it’s the first night of class, they have checked the Bethel On-Campus website for any additional instructions before heading to school. In many cases, the best students will contact the facilitator well in advance, to introduce them-selves and discuss any concerns they may have. In fact, just sending a “Hi, my name is …” email to the instructor through the Profile section is a great way to stand out in a group of otherwise unfamiliar student.


4. Arrive before you have to.

Almost without exception, the best students come to class early. Sometimes they take the time to eat dinner at their desk; sometimes they sit and chat with classmates. While not every student has the luxury of arriving early, those who do tend to be more relaxed than those who don’t. And, if they’re running late, they unfailingly let somebody know.

5. Fully participate.

We like to think that teachers don’t “play favorites,” and every instructor tries to avoid it. But it’s hard not to take a shine to a student who is truly engaged. Think of it: Would you feel more favorable about a student who is slumped down in the seat, secretly sending text messages, or a student who is sitting up straight, smiling, and adding content to the conversation? The best students are pre-pared to participate, and have the mindset and body language to go along with it.


6. Make connections.

The best students really bond with their cohort members. They exchange more than advice about homework – they share life events, stay in touch throughout the week, and are there to support one other, in class and out. Some of the deepest friendships ever formed have started in a classroom, and the best students remain engaged, energized, and enhanced by their “Bethel buddies.”

7. See criticism as a learning opportunity.

No one enjoys criticism. But the best students recognize the value of respectful reinforcement and guidance. Top students know they are in class to learn, and realize that the teacher is there to offer opportunities for growth. They take constructive criticism in the spirit in which it’s offered; apply it to their work; and grow because of it.

8. Ask for help.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the best students ask the most questions. They reach out for help to classmates, instructors, advisors, and trusted mentors. They stay late to talk with the facilitator when necessary. They use all the resources available at Bethel University to shift from student to scholar during their academic journey. And when they graduate, they’ve earned far more than a diploma – they’ve gained valuable knowledge that can be applied to make their futures even brighter.

Student Spotlight on Rachael Knowles: Winning, brilliantly

By Cindy Chambers

Being chosen for a college scholarship is big. But being selected for a scholarship by members of Mensa is … brilliant. That’s what happened to Bethel Success student Rachael Knowles. Rachael is an LPN and California native who currently lives Paris, TN. She divides her time between school, family life, and working at two hospitals, Henry County Medical Center in Paris, TN, and Murray-Calloway County Hospital in Murray, KY.

During her studies at Bethel University, one of Rachael’s instructors, Lisa Tyler, offered substantial encouragement for her writing skills. “She told me she thought my writing was above average and that I had a unique talent,” Rachael recalls. Motivated by Lisa’s words, Rachael conducted an internet search for scholarship competitions that awarded writing talent. Several possibilities popped up, including the Grosswirth-Salny Scholarship, sponsored by the Mensa Foundation for Education and Research.

She sat down to write.

The title of Rachael’s finished essay was, “Tenacious Dedication and Negotiation.” The subject was near and dear to Rachael’s heart. “I started my bachelor’s degree 12 years ago,” she says. As a pre-nursing and EMT major at California’s Modesto Junior College, she was determined to reach her goal of becoming an RN. “But when our four children came along – one of whom has autism – I knew I had to put their needs first.”

It wasn’t until after she and her family moved to West Tennessee, and accommodations were in place for her child’s special needs, that she was able to pick up where she left off.

“I started at the Paris campus in April of 2014,” she says. With children ranging from two years old to high school age, “Bethel’s one-night-a-week format was perfect. I love the topic discussions and interaction with my classmates.”

It all poured out in the essay … Rachael’s determination to reach her goal, despite the obstacles in her way.

“Nothing’s going to stop me from earning my degree,” she says. “I realized I was just going to have to do it in a different way.” That explains the “tenacious dedication” in the title. But what about the “negotiation”? “We all negotiate with ourselves,” Rachael explains. “We say, “Here is my goal. Here are my challenges. And here’s what I’m willing to sacrifice to reach it.’”

After careful proofreading, Rachael’s essay was emailed to the Mensa Foundation, an organization dedicated, according to its website, “to the pursuit of excellence in human intelligence.”  Staffed and supported by the brainiest of the brainy, the organization gives away an average of $85,000 annually in recognition of “research, education, and practical achievement regarding giftedness, intelligence, and creativity.” It might be daunting terminology for some — but not for Rachael, who recently finished her major courses with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She submitted her entry along with 9,200 other applicants from five different countries for one of just 188 awards.

Early this summer, Rachael got the news: She had won the scholarship. If fact, she was the only scholarship winner in the entire state of Tennessee.

“Initially I didn’t realize the caliber of the competition. I’m honored to win the award.” Along with the monetary award, which Rachael will apply towards college expenses, she was asked to consider testing for membership in Mensa, an opportunity she will pursue.

So what are Rachael’s future plans? “I’m going to earn my master’s,” she says, without hesitation. “Several facilitators have encouraged me in that direction. I have an aptitude for academics, as one instructor put it.” An MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Administration has captured her attention, and Bethel’s program has won her over. “Bethel reaches out to people at all levels. Some students have been faced with academic challenges along the way, and Bethel is there to boost their skills. Others are there, like me, because obstacles appeared along the way — life was the challenge; not academics,” she says.

No doubt about it: The future looks brilliant for Rachael Knowles.

Yasmin Tate: Thankful for every Monday

Jasmin Tate graduation
By Cindy Chambers

It’s been said that losing a child is the greatest challenge anyone can ever face. Grief clouds perception, pain disrupts routine, and goals are pushed aside in the dark chaos of loss. In the days and months that follow, just putting one foot in front of the other takes monumental effort. Yet it can also be a catalyst, allowing the grieving parent to honor what has been lost by focusing on what remains to be gained. For Yasmin Tate, that meant returning to college.

“I needed something positive to help heal my life. I needed peace,” she says. A single Memphis mother of two daughters, Yasmin will never forget the week in 2007 when her life changed forever. Daughter Erika, a 22-year-old senior at Lane College, came home on Wednesday, went to the hospital on Friday, and died on Monday.

Yasmin came to hate Mondays.

“Erika was my youngest, and we were very, very close. I didn’t know what else to do but pray and ask for direction,” Yasmin recalls. “My faith in God is what kept me standing” — faith, and unceasing encouragement from friends and older daughter Aniysha. “Aniysha was my biggest supporter, and she still is,” Yasmin says. “I don’t even know how I got to work, or did my job, for a long time. I was in another place.” But friends and family pushed her to keep moving, and that meant trying to enroll in Bethel in 2008.

“I had heard good things about the school. I knew Bethel was religion-based, and I really wanted to take some religion classes. I also understood that it was designed for working adults with families.”She was then 53 years old, working fulltime as the lead in the Pain-Management Billing Department at Advanced Toxicology Network. That’s when Yasmin discovered she had a hold on her original college transcripts, due to defaulting on an early student loan. “So I took another part-time job, and I worked, and I worked, and I paid off that loan.  And when I did, I went right back to Bethel,” she recalls.

In April of 2010, Yasmin finally sat down to talk with Terika Anderson at the Memphis campus. Terika explained that there was a class starting the following Monday.“I told her Mondays were terrible days … terrible days,” Yasmin says. “And I told her why.”

Yasmin pauses in her story. “And Terika said, ‘I’ll tell you what, Ms. Tate. We’re going to start you out on Monday. I think it will help your Mondays get better. And if it doesn’t, we’ll wait for another day.’”

Yasmin took her advice. And Mondays, she says, really did get better. “I was still a grieving mother, and I came to school painfully for the first few months.” But Monday after Monday, Aniysha, Terika, friends and classmates checked on her, encouraged her, supported her.

Six months after Yasmin’s return to college, “I had a flood and lost everything in my apartment. I lost a lot of my deceased daughter’s things, which compounded everything. I really can’t praise Bethel enough for the support I received,” she says.

Yasmin graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Management & Organizational Development in 2012, with daughter Aniysha, then 32, there to cheer her on.“Erika would have been very proud of me, too. Very proud,” her mother says. “After she finished at Lane College, she planned to go on to nursing school. We were going to go to college and graduate together.”

When asked what Erika would have said after seeing her mother graduate, Yasmin smiles. “She would have said, ‘Mama, I knew you could do it all along.’”

But Yasmin wasn’t finished yet. She went right on to pursue a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution at Bethel, graduating last year. And, just this week, she completed her application for Bethel’s MBA program at the tender age of 61.

Today Yasmin serves as an instructor at Remington College, where she teaches medical billing and coding. When she counts her blessings, Bethel is near the top of her list. “Nothing will take the place of my daughter,” says Yasmin Tate. “But because of Terika’s suggestion and encouragement, I’m now thankful for every Monday.”

Student Spotlight: Sara Findley

Sara Findley

After she graduated from high school 15 years ago, Sara Findley realized it was time to return to school. However, going back to school at this point in her life had a different meaning. This time she was motivated to not only advance her career, but to be a role model for her 10-year-old daughter.

We are proud to recognize Sara in our Student Spotlight. Sara is currently enrolled in our Organizational Leadership program with an IT concentration. Sara shares some of her thoughts on her educational goals as a student:

“When I first started on my college journey, my only goal was graduation. I did not realize at the time how much the classes and coursework would change my thought processes and critical thinking skills. After seeing the change in myself, I feel that learning and growing with college is almost more important than graduation.

For example, after taking statistics I started questioning and analyzing each statistic that I saw, whether it was in a newspaper or a commercial. I wanted to know where and how they got their data and I did not blindly believe the information put in front of me.  I feel that college builds little things like this to make you a more educated person in all aspects of your life. You are not just earning a degree —  you are learning new ways to think and process.”

We wish Sara the best of luck in her studies and look forward to what she will accomplish as a Bethel student and member of the Clarksville community.

Bethel University makes earning a degree easier for busy police officers

Bethel University is making it possible for police officers to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice – “without missing their beat.” The accelerated, SACSCOC-accredited program accepts up to 30 semester hours of qualified Police Academy credits, which is the equivalent of approximately two semesters of traditional university elective credits. In addition, criminal justice professionals who have served in the military can receive credit for their prior training. Altogether, Bethel University will accept up to 60 total semester hours from these non-traditional sources, making it possible for those in the criminal justice field to finish their degree even faster.

Executive Vice President of the College of Professional Studies, Kelly Sanders-Kelley, said, “We know that every minute matters in the challenging field of criminal justice. Our accelerated, online format — combined with credit for prior learning — means that adult learners can earn a degree while serving and protecting the citizens in their communities.”

The Criminal Justice curriculum was designed to allow law enforcement professionals, managers and administrators to explore the laws, practices, technologies and skills needed by today’s leaders in the field. Experienced instructors and a cohort structure provide ongoing guidance and support.

Bethel University was established in 1842, and named the #2 Private Christian College in the nation in 2015. The university’s College of Professional Studies offers accelerated undergraduate degrees in Management on-campus and online; online bachelor’s degrees in Emergency Services Management and Criminal Justice; and master’s degrees in Criminal Justice and Business Administration (MBA) in a flexible, online format. To find out more, go to, or call 877-4BETHEL.

11 secrets of top online learners

By Cindy Chambers

Every online class has at least one: a great student who stands out, stays strong week after week, and really soars during the course of a five-week class. As an online instructor for nearly a decade, I’ve noticed that many of these students share the same attributes of success. Today, I’ll share their secrets, and urge you to apply them to your own work. Chances are, they’ll make your academic journey richer and more rewarding than you ever thought possible!

  1. Introduce yourself. Think about it: In every brand-new online class, no one stands out, and no personality really shines. (In fact, during the first week of a new course, it can seem a little like teaching in a classroom with the lights out!) But the best online students shine brighter by sending an email to the instructor before the class begins. It’s always short and sweet; maybe something like this: Dear Ms. Chambers: My name is ________, and I’ll be a student in your upcoming class. I’m looking forward to learning more about the subject of __________ with you. A full name follows, along with the course number (important, since many Bethel instructors teach multiple courses concurrently.) Aha! Now, in a sea of nameless, faceless students, one stands out. Think of it as a lesson in marketing – you can’t sell yourself (or anything else) by being unseen and unheard.
  2. Make your Profile shine. Some online students approach the Profile section as if it were a posting on Facebook – voluntary, casual, and anything but professional. I’ve seen Profile photos that would make your mother blush: from super-revealing outfits, to pictures clearly taken in bars! Your Profile tells your classmates and teachers who you are personally, but the best online students approach it professionally, too. Make sure your photo is one that might get you hired at a business you want to work for (please – no car-selfies!), and that your description of yourself is personal, carefully proofread, and professional. You never know who will see it, or what a difference it might make in your life!
  3. Take the time to take it in. The strongest online students read every word of the Read section, and watch every minute of the Attend video. Teachers can see it in their depth of understanding, and their ability to translate these sometimes complex ideas into content-rich homework. In addition, thanks to a special V-Camp feature, instructors can literally see exactly how long each student spends on the Read and Attend portions of their work! Almost without exception, the strongest students take the most time to “take it all in” before diving into their work.
  4. Start early. Let’s face it: Procrastination hits everybody once in a while. Our lives are so busy that it’s easy to make schoolwork the last thing on your to-do list. Maybe you tell yourself that you “work best under pressure.” (Adrenaline can be a greater motivator – in fact, waiting till the last minute can speed up both your heartbeat and your fingers on the keyboard!) But not only do online instructors know exactly when you submitted your work – often as little as five minutes before the drop-dead deadline – we can see it in the content. Hurried students conduct less research, reveal more learning gaps, and produce more errors. Always.
  5. Write, rest, repeat. Having said that, please try to start your writing early in the week. Let it sit for a day, and then look at it with fresh eyes. Errors in spelling, grammar, APA, and content are much more likely to jump out on second glance. Tweak your work, read it aloud, and then tweak again before you click “submit.”
  6. Dig deep and reach high. The best online students often conduct independent research beyond the e-book – not necessarily because it’s required, but because they are Need to write about Starbucks this week? Feel free to go to their website and update the case-study with current, cited information. Tackling a leadership class? Dive into the Bethel Online Library and see what scholars are saying about the subject. Pushing yourself just a little bit more will result in higher learning opportunities – and higher scores.
  7. Use every tool at your fingertips. Bethel students are fortunate to have a wealth of resources literally close at hand. From the “wonders of Smarthinking,” to our user-friendly online library, there are a number of free services available to help you grow. Use them when you need them. Use them when you don’t! The best students always recognize that their work can be improved, and services like these can only help you grow more competent and confident, week after week.
  8. Follow the instructor’s advice. Your online instructor isn’t there to simply compliment or criticize you — he or she is there to help you grow. So carefully read the written comments you’ve been given, view the advice as professional guidance (rather than personal criticism), and try to apply these suggestions to your next week’s work. If you’re doing something right, keep doing it. If you’re doing something wrong, avoid it. Take every review as one more learning opportunity on your journey to success.
  9. Reach out and touch someone. The best students ask the most questions. They send frequent, courteous emails to their instructors for clarification. They call their academic advisor when they’re confused. They contact members of their cohort group from time to time, seeking additional guidance, consensus, or just plain moral support. Getting to know members of your cohort group, as well as your instructor, will really help the learning come alive. When online learning leaves you lonesome, remember: It will really open up when you reach out!
  10. Evaluate (both yourself, and your teacher). Honest evaluation is a valuable part of the learning process. At the end of each class, please take the opportunity to complete the anonymous Course Evaluation, to include specific comments about the class and the instructor. Believe me – your words will be seen, both by the teacher and Bethel administrators. Everyone needs to know what they do well, and areas in need of improvement, and these course evaluations help Bethel grow even better. Apply the same honest appraisal to yourself at the end of each course. What did you do well? Where can you improve? Start each new class determined to apply what you learned during the last one – about the subject, and about yourself.
  11. Stay focused on your goals – especially when things get tough. Earning a degree isn’t easy, and even the best students will hit a rough patch, or a tough class, from time to time. That’s when you need to remember why you enrolled in the first place. Keep your goals front and center — whether they be a better job, the pride of your family, or the knowledge that your degree will be valued and valuable. When you focus on the finish line, it’s hard to see the obstacles in your path.

The very best online learners grow from student to scholar during their academic journey. Apply these suggestions – and get set to shine!

Cindy Chambers loves to teach — and really reach — her students.  She has been voted “Online Instructor of the Year” by Bethel students for the past three years. Feel free to contact her with comments or questions at

Charlie Warner: The Sweet Sound of Success

8-17-2010 10-58-39 AM“It’s funny,” says MBA student Charlie Warner, “the way God puts us right where we’re supposed to be, even though it may not be for the reasons we originally thought.”

Music originally drew Charlie to Nashville from his native Illinois – specifically, the opportunity to perform country and Christian music at places like the Wildhorse Saloon and the Grand Ole Opry House. But Sgt. Warner, who now heads up the Public Affairs Section for the Franklin Police Department, found success with far more than the local music scene. With an associate degree in Criminal Justice and the promise of a position as a police officer, he headed to Nashville and discovered a fulfilling career, a loving wife-to-be, and Bethel’s College of Professional Studies programs all in one place.

“While the music dream is what brought me here in 1999, my law enforcement career being as blessed as it is got me to stay,” he says. “Falling in love with my wife here in 2002 — this is where we’ve chosen to grow our family. It’s home.”

He found a “school home” in Bethel, too.

After working for several years as a patrolman in uniform, he was promoted to detective, and then took a prestigious three-year assignment with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force in Nashville. He was soon selected to serve as detective sergeant over the Franklin Police Major Crimes Unit. But Charlie realized that an associate degree wasn’t going to get him where he wanted to be. After talking to an enthusiastic colleague who graduated from the program, he did his research and found that Bethel’s face-to-face business management program fit his busy lifestyle perfectly.

“I didn’t just pick Bethel by happenstance,” he says. “I did a lot of program comparisons, and Bethel came out on top. It’s a respected brick-and-mortar institution, and it has the highest accreditation in the Southeast.” The program lived up to his expectations — and beyond. “I was challenged every week to deliver my best, and it stretched me. I had fun, and enjoyed learning with my cohorts. In the end, when I got to put on my cap and gown and graduate at the age of 38 … well, it was an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment,” he says.

But it wasn’t enough for Charlie. As more career opportunities became available, he received more support from colleagues to go even further.

“I had a boss really push me toward my master’s degree,” he explains. “He said, ‘You’ve got all this potential. But a bachelor’s degree isn’t the gold standard anymore.’” Once again, Charlie researched dozens of different master’s degree options – and Bethel came out ahead once again. “There are a lot of schools to choose from — but Bethel is solid, and the staff, administrators and instructors are beyond supportive.”

As a brand-new MBA student, Charlie knows the importance of staying relevant as a leader at work, and as a role model at home.

“My wife has a master’s degree, and our three kids see me tucked away doing my homework, night after night,” he says. Now 11, 8 and 5 years old, they can’t quite understand why Dad is doing homework during summer vacation. “But someday I want them to realize that both of their parents placed a great deal of value on their education.”

To others considering Bethel, he says, “If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, at the finish line, you’ll receive a degree from a notable university.” The chief spokesperson for the 9th largest police department in Tennessee, Charlie is also an enthusiastic spokesperson for his alma mater. “I didn’t choose Bethel once. I chose it twice. And that speaks volumes,” he says

Bethel University ranked second in nation by


Bethel University has been ranked 2nd in the nation in the list of Best Online Christian Liberal Arts Colleges for 2015.

BestColleges noted on its website that, “Bethel University’s Success undergraduate degree program is designed for adults over 23 years of age with a high school diploma or GED and at least three years of work experience. Bethel caters to busy adults in need of flexibility to complete a college degree.”

Selections were based on academic merit, along with the school’s overall strengths, to include acceptance and graduation rates, enrollment and retention.

Bethel University President Walter Butler called the selection, “A big honor.”

“Our faculty and staff work hard to ensure our students receive a quality education. This feedback lets us know our online educational product is meaningful, and that it helps individuals progress toward their personal and professional goals.”

Butler also pointed out that Bethel’s Christian-based philosophy supports an enduring mission established at the school’s inception in 1842.

“Online or in the classroom,” he said, “we continue to allow students to develop to their highest potential as whole persons — intellectually, spiritually, socially and physically—in a supportive environment.”

One of the oldest post-secondary schools In the state, and the largest Christian-affiliated private school in Tennessee, Bethel serves both traditional and non-traditional students, and offers both on-campus and online delivery methods that lead to SACSCOC-accredited associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Bethel was a pioneer in the 1990s as one of the first colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs catering to adult professionals, and was the first school in Tennessee to provide a laptop computer to each fulltime student. More than 3,500 students currently enjoy Bethel’s online program delivery.

In a prepared statement, Best called choosing the right institution of higher learning “a complex and highly personal decision.” Best attempts to make the decision easier “by giving people easy access to information that matters to their specific needs so they can make objective comparisons among institutions.”

For more information about Bethel University, log on to or call 877-4Bethel.