Father Leads the Way For Sons Through eVersity

As any dad with sons knows, the older they get the harder you have to work to remain the leader in the household. In discovering the University of Arkansas System eVersity, Jim Tolly saw the means to accomplish both a long-standing goal and be a role model to his two sons, ages 16 and 19.

“One of my goals was to graduate (eVersity) before my (oldest) son graduated high school,” he said. “I unfortunately missed that by about six weeks. But I finished college; basically, it took me 25 years to get my degree.”

Tolly grew up in Springdale and is a Fayetteville-based circulation manager for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He also works as a part-time patrol deputy and can trace the detour his educational journey took back to his career in law enforcement.

“Ultimately what happened is what I’m going to call life,” he said. “I started straight out of high school at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, did the whole two-year-transfer thing. I went to school at the University of Arkansas for another two years.”

“I had gotten married and I was majoring in criminal justice and was hired by the Fayetteville Police Department. At that time – this was in 1997 – I was sent to Camden to go to the police academy. What I said was, when I get out of the police academy then I’ll finish this degree. Needless to say, I completed a total of one class after…”

Having a day job and a family left Tolly little time for much else and online options were either too expensive or didn’t impress him with their curriculum. Still, it gnawed at him to have not crossed the finish line.

“I went to school for four years and I had, I think, 108 hours,” he said. “That’s the part that’s not real bright, to spend that much time and that much effort and then not to finish.”

“I hear on the news one night that the Board of Trustees is creating an online university under the UA System umbrella,” said Tolly. “To me, that carried more weight than the University of Phoenix in that before the University of Arkansas System puts their name on something it’s going to have to have some quality to it because they’re not willing to tarnish their reputation.”

In addition to the curriculum, Tolly was impressed by eVersity’s credit transfer policy and reasonable pricing.

“I’m not going to go into debt for my education at 40 years old,” he said. “One of the things I really like about eVersity is what I call ‘flat priced.’ It’s always so much per credit hour. My son’s in college right now and they fee him to death. I mean, there’s a fee for everything. (eVersity has no fees.)

“The other thing I like is the tuition lock. As long as you’re continually taking classes, if it takes you five years and they had four tuition increases, you didn’t see any of those. I think that’s a key selling point.”

With his degree in hand, Tolly enjoys the feeling of having demonstrated to his children how to finish what you start.

“It was important to lead by example,” he said. “I’m expecting them to go to college and complete college. If I expect them to go to college and get a degree, well, why didn’t I do that? So, I did.”