September 21, 2023

Knight Ambassador Daniel Thornton Overcomes Online Learning Challenges at Age 50

Starting a new degree program or going back to college after some time away can seem exciting and maybe even a bit daunting. For Daniel Thornton, he found himself enrolling for his very first college course at age 50 and was met with many new experiences.

“I enrolled at CSU at the age of 50 and day one of my courses was one of the hardest things that I have encountered. I had never seen discussion boards like this and I was never very good at English,” Daniel said.

While he had a rewarding career and even added “entrepreneur” to his resume, Daniel decided to pursue his college degree after he was turned down for multiple managerial-level positions in his field.

“When I was 18, I never thought that a college degree was something that I needed. I elected to skip school and start working to earn money. While the next 22 years would be a massive adventure, I always felt like I was limited in how far I could go,” he said. “In 2006, I thought I was finally going to get my shot to be a regional vice president in the mortgage industry; however, the industry collapsed and I had to find work. I started my own company, but I kept applying for management jobs. The one consistent response that I kept getting was, ‘You have no degree.’ While this never stood in the way before, I am much older now and more people are looking for jobs that have degrees. So, I bit the bullet.”

Daniel quickly found fulfillment in his courses and found resources and people who would help him succeed on his journey to graduation.

“Over the first eight weeks of my degree program, I learned what worked best for me. I learned the system that CSU uses. I jumped on every assignment the minute it came out so I could stay on top of them. When I ran into issues, instead of freaking out, I went looking for answers,” he said. “I utilized every department like they were there personally for me and no one else. I used the Writing Center, the librarians, the bookstore, financial aid, and my academic advisor, Stacy, until I became known. I have one of the best academic advisors. I highly recommend working closely with your academic advisor and provide input so they know what your goals are.”

Now that Daniel is comfortable in his courses and looking forward to accomplishing his goals, he has become a CSU Knight Ambassador and hopes to share his experiences and insight with others who may be new to online learning.

“Whatever your circumstances, CSU is prepared to help you along your journey. Before you start to feel overwhelmed or unsure, pick up the phone and call someone or email your professors. Someone is out there to help you get back on track. Keep planning, keep studying, and keep your heads up. Whether you are 18 years old and just got out of high school or you are 50 years old and worked all your life without a degree, the decision that brings you to this fantastic school is what is important.”



  1. Christine Lee

    I commend Daniel Thornton on his achievement. I too found success here at CSU. I’m 57 years old, received a BS in OSHA studies, and one course away CSP certifications. I constantly remind youngsters, it’s never too late to fullfil your dreams. Of I can do it so can they. I will be reapplying, hoping to acquire my Master.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Thank you for your comment, Christine. Congratulations on all you are accomplishing! Good luck on your master’s degree program- you can do it!


      Libby Reilly
      CSU Communications Coordinator