What’s Next? 6 Tips for Making the Transition to Life after Ashford

By bcummings

graduate looking forward

Martin Sheen plays President Bartlet, one of the most beloved fictional leaders of all time, in the TV show West Wing, a political drama from the past decade. West Wing might possibly be my favorite TV show, evidenced by the fact that I’ve seen the entire series several times. In his exchanges with the West Wing staff, President Bartlet commonly closes one chapter or discussion and moves to the next with a simple question – what’s next?

I just submitted my last assignment for my last class at Ashford. Like many of you who are doing the same thing or are nearing the end of your tenure at Ashford, I had to ask myself, what’s next? For me, I am graduating with a BA degree in Real Estate Studies. I went back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree because my state (California) allows someone with a 4-year degree in a real estate related field to be able to get their real estate broker’s license without having to spend 2 years as a full-time real estate agent. So, one thing that’s next for me is to finish studying for the broker’s exam with hopes to have my license by the end of the summer. 

I also run a business called Offer To Close, which helps simplify and improve the process of buying and selling a home for real estate agents and FSBOs (for sale by owners). Having a broker’s license will allow the business to provide a broader range of services such as listing a home for sale for someone or being able to provide referrals to other agents and receive a commission credit. The world of possibilities and my knowledge have greatly been increased by getting a degree in real estate studies at Ashford.

Now that I am done with school, I’ll be able to spend more time focusing on building my business with all of my attention instead of needing to write a paper or read a textbook in the middle of a work day to ensure I’d get my school work done for the week. Plus, I’m really looking forward to putting the papers and textbooks aside and having my weekends back to spend with my wife and three young kids. That’s what’s next for me.

What’s next for you? Whether you are about to start your first career, or you came back to school to help you transition to a new career, here are a few tips for making the transition to life after Ashford.

1. Create a Plan

If you don’t already have one, today is as good as any time to create a plan for what comes next for you. I am a big advocate for being intentional with your life decisions. Making a plan helps you ensure you are doing just that.

2. Test the Waters

If you still aren’t sure of the right path for you, whether you are thinking of getting an advanced degree or aren’t sure what job you want in your given field, or just aren’t sure how to go about getting it, that’s all okay. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be today where we want to be tomorrow. You may end up applying for what turns out to be your dream job. When I got my first job 15 years ago, I applied for a job posting in a local college paper that read “surf the internet, must know Excel, $7/hr.” When I applied for that job, I had no idea that within 2 years I would be the Head of Marketing at that company and in 3 years I would be the General Manager of ChristianMingle.com (and 20 other niche dating sites). I loved that job and never would have had that opportunity if I hadn’t tested the waters.

3. Take a Break

You have worked hard to get to this point, you deserve a minute to celebrate. Whether that means taking a day off to go somewhere in your city you’ve wanted to go for a while or if it means two weeks in Indonesia, that doesn’t matter. What matters is you have worked hard and you deserve to take some time to celebrate your accomplishments.

4. Start Building a Network

If you aren’t sure where to start, send me a LinkedIn connection or message and I’m happy to help. I’ll even be your first connection, but to build a network you just have to try. Over the course of your time at Ashford, you have likely had classes with hundreds of people. Go back through your class discussions and identify people you enjoyed interacting with. Even if you may not see an immediate connection, you never know who they know that might be of help to you in the future.

5. Build Your Brand

You may not realize it, but the single most important brand in your life is your own brand. What do others think about when they hear your name? Smart? Hard-worker? Talented? Screw-up? Whatever you decide you want to represent, you need to be intentional about doing the type of things that will lead people to think about you that way. 

6. Enjoy the Journey

No matter what you end up doing, be happy, treat yourself well, and enjoy the journey.

In the series finale of the West Wing, President Bartlet is on Air Force One on his way back to his home in New Hampshire. He is pensively looking out the window as his wife asks him, “What are you thinking about?” His response: “Tomorrow.” No matter what your experience at Ashford has been like—and I hope it was great—always know that tomorrow is a better and a brighter day. 

What’s next?



Written by James Green, recent Ashford graduate and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in the online dating, pet, and real estate industries. In addition to being Founder and CEO of a transaction coordinator business and a startup helping home buyers and sellers find a real estate agent, he also has extensive experience in marketing and business management. Previously, James served on the Board of the Google Client Advisory Council while working as General Manager and Head of Marketing for Christian Mingle. He is a recent Ashford University alumnus where he obtained his BA of Real Estate Studies.


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