Ballard's interest in language propelled his start in higher education at the University of South Carolina, where he majored in French and international studies. He had to change course soon after starting, however, eventually withdrawing from his program and enlisting in the U.S. Navy to continue his study of language as a cryptologic technician (interpretive).
Upon graduating from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California with an Associate of Arts degree in Persian-Farsi, Ballard was again ready for his next step.
“Between all of the deployments to the Middle East and Africa, I really had to focus on work and my home life in the small amounts of time that I had off,” Ballard said. “But once I transferred to a shore duty station, my largest concern was finding a college that would accept my nontraditional academic beginning.”
After some research, Ballard learned that ASU offers resources for veteran students as well as the Earned Admissions program, which allows students of all backgrounds to take 12 hours of ASU courses with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75. Upon completion, students are guaranteed admission to ASU. Understanding ASU Online offers the same quality education and student support as the on campus programs, Ballard applied for admission.