Student Feature: Self Investment & Rewriting Your Narrative with Paul Vandervort

“My time at Coastline has been very positive. Not only have I developed a more substantial and broad background in business, but I've completely changed my outlook on education, and I've rewritten my life-long narrative that school must just be for other people.”

congratulations coastline graduate paul vandervort
Congratulations Paul Vandervort, Coastline College Class of 2024!

This week on the Coastline Blog we are highlighting one of our upcoming graduates, Paul Vandervort! With a 3.9 Cumulative GPA, Paul was selected as one of two Coastline students to make the 2024 Phi Theta Kappa All-California Honor Roll and chosen as an award recipient from the program. Out of a pool of 2 million community college students statewide, only 120 students are selected. At the end of the month, Paul will graduate with honors from Coastline with his A.S. in Business Administration before transferring to Fowler College of Business at SDSU in the fall.

Returning to college can be daunting, but Paul’s willingness to rewrite the script of his perspective on education has been an integral part of his academic path. Through his experience, Paul exemplifies the reward of taking charge of your narrative and investing in yourself while pursuing a higher education.

Learn More About Phi Theta Kappa @ Coastline

Could you share a bit about your academic background and how that led you to come to Coastline?

As a shy child whose family moved twelve times in eighteen years, my early education could be humorously described as, "a series of unfortunate events." I was never able to find my footing in the traditional school system or feel remotely comfortable while attending school. After high school, I briefly took classes at a local college while working full-time, but by then, my sights were set on the entertainment industry.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 where I proceeded to work in film and television over the next decade. In a way, I've always been a student, whether it was reading books about screenwriting and filmmaking, studying with acting coaches, or learning the ropes as a film producer. I've always loved to learn, it just needed to be in a way that made sense to me. By the time the pandemic shut down most of Hollywood, in 2020, I was ready to move on. After starting a new business, passing my real estate and mortgage exams, and relocating to Newport Beach, I stumbled onto Coastline College and immediately signed up for my first business course.

Paul Vandervort acting/modeling headshot
Image provided by Paul Vandervort.

You are graduating with a degree in Business Administration; what inspired you to pursue this field of study?

I actually started taking courses at Coastline without even thinking about completing a degree. Going back to college in my late 30s, I felt both nostalgic for the great educational experience I'd heard about from others but never experienced myself, and also intimidated by all the new software and needing to reorganize my mind and my life around an academic structure with many new upcoming tasks and due dates. The asynchronous structure of the college allowed me to manage my work and life from home while managing my classes around my own schedule. So, the next thing I knew, I had ramped my course load up to full-time status, and for the first time in my life, I was loving being a student!

How would you describe your time here at Coastline?

My time at Coastline has been very positive. Not only have I developed a more substantial and broad background in business, but I've completely changed my outlook on education, and I've rewritten my life-long narrative that school must just be for other people.

Modeling image of Paul Vandervort walking down a city street
Image provided by Paul Vandervort.

How do you think you’ve grown since you first started at Coastline to now?

The biggest way I feel I've grown is through constantly proving to myself that I can take on a whole new type of course and just succeed, no matter how challenging or foreign it might seem at first. With the exception of getting a B in my first Spanish course (at the time I was just having so much fun learning Spanish, I wasn't thinking about getting an A or about a GPA at all), I have otherwise produced an A grade in every course I've taken.

What is one major challenge you faced while at Coastline (difficult class, time management, etc), and how did you overcome it?

I would say the biggest challenge I've taken on were a couple of my most recent courses: managerial accounting, statistics, and calculus. Due to getting a very mediocre education as a child, some of these courses required significant additional time and research to make up for what I hadn't learned as a teenager.

For example, not just learning differential and integral calculus, but having to simultaneously learn the prerequisite advanced algebra and geometry that I never learned in high school. Honestly, it's consumed far more hours than I thought it would, but it's also been so much more rewarding than I had ever thought it would be.

Check out Business Programs @ Coastline

Of all the things Coastline had to offer, what left the deepest imprint and why was it so impactful?

I have loved immersing myself in a proper setting for higher education. Being a small business owner in my late 30s, there was no pressure or expectation for me to go to college, and it certainly wasn't overly easy or convenient, but I really just did it for me, and it has opened up my mind and enhanced my perspective in wonderful ways. I'm so glad I did it. I've had some professors offer in-person or on-location extra credit, which I have always taken the opportunity to do, so I have really enjoyed getting to meet some of the faculty, whether attending the annual business summit with my accounting professor, or exploring a nature preserve with my marine science professor.

What are your plans and goals for after graduation?

My life is always changing and evolving, and currently, I am thrilled to be completing my A.S in Business Administration at the end of this month! I have been admitted to attend Fowler College of Business at SDSU this Fall, and I'm also speaking with UC Riverside about completing my B.S. in Business Administration via remote-learning from out of state. My business, life, marriage, and family keep me busy, and I look forward to seeing what continued opportunities await me. Right now, my focus is my family, growing my business, and traveling.

Paul standing in snow gear, holding a snowboard, in a snowy scene in front of snow covered mountains
Image provided by Paul Vandervort.

What advice would you give to students currently on the path toward pursuing their degree and graduating?

To anybody else who is currently pursuing their college degree, particularly if school didn't always come easy to you, I would applaud you for putting forth the effort to better yourself and your life. Sometimes when things get hard, you have to just stay the course, and it will create even more of a positive butterfly effect for you later on. Always keep learning and forging your life in the way that you want, and best of luck to anybody reading this.

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