Ben Conner Has Plenty of Motivation to Earn Business Degree Online

LSUA online student Ben Conner with his family

When it's time for Ben Conner to take a test, his 9-year-old daughter, Landry, wants to be sure he won't be disturbed.

"She has a series of little custom door hangers that hang on the doorknob of a home office I have," he said. "When I go in there to test, they say, 'Testing zone. Quiet please.'"

It's appropriate Landry is so involved in her dad's education since she was the primary motivation for him to enroll in the LSUA online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program. He will graduate in Spring 2018.

"I wanted to show her that higher education is important," Conner said. "Also, to not abandon something when the going gets tough. Hopefully, the bigger lesson for her to learn is to buckle down and get it knocked out the first time."

Such was the case for Conner, who started college at LSU in 1998. He left school to become a police officer before transitioning into a career in the construction industry. Conner is now a project manager for Rittiner Equipment in the New Orleans area. He earned an Associate of Science in Safety Technology from Nicholls State University in 2015.

"I knew I had a bunch of credits sitting there that were not being used," he said. "Without a payoff, I viewed it as a missed opportunity. I also wanted to ease back into the college curriculum. As soon as I graduated from Nicholls, I enrolled at LSUA to get the bachelor's degree."

Making Time

The online format was the only way Conner, 37, could feasibly earn a bachelor's degree with a full-time job and a family.

"Everything was wonderful," he said. "The format worked extremely well for me because I was able to plan my schedule. I spend a lot of time on the road. In a hotel room, there's not too much to do. I'd get dinner, sit down and start knocking out a bunch of work. It was great."

That flexibility even extends to family vacation time with Landry and his wife, Stephanie.

"We often plan vacations nine months ahead of time," Conner said. "Three months out, you enroll in a class. Often, there's a test due or an exam due while you're supposed to be at Disney World in Orlando. The girls just take off and go grab a bite to eat, and I go to the room by myself. Even in the middle of a vacation, you can make it work."

Conner has been able to apply the broad business picture from the BSBA curriculum to his job -- especially with the management and marketing courses.

"Certainly being able to apply some different tactics and strategies with dealing with people -- the human resource element -- was immediately deployable," he said.

Opening Doors

Conner will likely continue his higher education beyond the bachelor's degree. He is considering enrolling in the Flores Master of Business Administration program at LSU in fall 2018.

"I'm in a unique position," he said. "The police game is in the past, so that's out. That was kind of like my first love, so to speak. I know I want to transition more into the administrative role within the business world, although I'm not particularly sure which avenue. I'm hoping some of that refinement might come from the MBA program."

Although Conner was already familiar with the LSU system, he sort of stumbled into considering LSUA for the bachelor's degree program. He was at a postgraduate information fair, dropping off his graduation application at Nicholls State, when he started speaking with a representative from the LSU system.

"That opened the door for me to start doing a little bit more research," he said. "I knew I didn't want to take any time off. If I was going to jump back into a bachelor's program, I'd rather just graduate and immediately re-enroll."

Conner originally started as a psychology major at LSU, but he was thinking about switching to business administration before he joined the police academy.

"I always figured that everything is a business," Conner said. "The telephones we're talking on, whatever you're using to take notes, whether it's a pencil or a laptop or whatever -- it's driving something everywhere."

Home Stretch

Conner looks forward to graduation day from LSUA. He hopes to attend the commencement ceremony with his family in May 2018.

"I live in Covington, which is on the north shore of New Orleans," he said. "It's a couple of hours to drive to Alexandria, but I want to share that moment with my family. They've been so supportive during this journey and they deserve to be a part of it."

The biggest key to success in the bachelor's degree program for Conner has been time management.

"For as flexible as the program is, you still have to make the time to do all of the same things you do in a traditional course -- to read, to make sure you're prepared," he said. "I spent almost a year in two different police academies and the same type of thing applies.

"You get home at the end of the day, and you still need to shine your boots and press your uniform. We had inspections every day. It's all about time management. When you have a free moment, there's probably something you can do to fill it. It may not feel like it, but there is always something you can do today that is going to make tomorrow go a little smoother."

Conner has had plenty of support from his friends and family on his higher education journey.

"I know my mom's proud," he said. "My dad passed in May. He got to see me finish the associate degree, but I really wanted him to see me finish at LSUA. A lot of it is for them. And for my kid and my wife. It's just been a good road. Everybody has been really supportive and also definitely impressed to see me juggle fatherhood, being a husband and sometimes working 60 hours a week."

The little girl hard at work on the next door hanger is pretty proud, too.

Learn more about the LSUA online BS in Business Administration program.

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