Mankato Accounting Grad Takes Family on Fast Track to Bachelor's Degree

mankato-accounting-fast-trackHard work can take you a long way in life, and few professions understand the value of a hard day’s work like farmers. Mankato, Minn., accounting graduate Lisa Seidl grew up in an agricultural family and although she has career plans beyond the farm, the work ethic and values she developed there have never left.

“My parents always told me that if I want something I need to work for it,” Seidl says. “I’ve always been a determined person and growing up on a farm kind of made me that way.”

In fact, Seidl was able to turn that work ethic and determination into a bachelor’s degree in accounting in just a little over two years, not even letting the birth of her first child slow her down.

Early decision speeds up education

Many college students need a year or two to figure out their major course of study. For Seidl, her experience in a high school accounting class in addition to a general affinity for numbers predetermined her path toward an accounting degree.

Determining her major early allowed Seidl to chart a course to earn her degree as quickly as possible. She set out to take classes on a pace that, after earning four courses worth of college credit in high school, allowed her to earn her bachelor’s degree in a little over two years.

One of the biggest benefits of Seidl’s academic pace was the reduced cost. By taking advantage of Rasmussen College’s Fast Track tuition program—where all credits beyond 16 per quarter are tuition-free—Seidl significantly reduced the cost of her education.

“I wanted to be able to walk away from school without any student loans and I was able to,” Seidl says. “Most of that was possible because of the [Fast Track] program.”

Making it work

Plenty of students would be busy enough with the oversized course load Seidl took on, but she also worked around 25 hours per week on her parents’ farm. Seidl says she was able to manage the amount of work she had to do each week by treating school like a job. By carefully following a schedule on her non-work days, she found a routine that kept her from procrastinating.

The willingness of Seidl’s instructors to go out of their way to help was the key in making sure she was able to manage her academic work. Seidl says Margaret Stenzel, the Mankato accounting program coordinator, would regularly talk her through any issues she was having with her coursework. In fact, Stenzel even gave Seidl her home phone number for times she needed to reach her outside of regular office hours.

“I could usually figure out the answer to the problem I’d be working on by myself but having her there to explain why really helped me understand the material better,” Seidl says.

Proving a point

In the midst of earning her degree, Seidl learned she was pregnant with her first child at age 19. A pregnancy can mark the end of an academic career for many young women attending college, as the additional cost and responsibilities that come with motherhood can be overwhelming. Seidl, however, was determined not to let pregnancy derail her plans.

“My pregnancy became a huge motivator for me,” Seidl says. “I wanted to prove people wrong in that I can still get my degree when pregnant and even finish before 95 percent of my [high school] classmates.”

Seidl graduated with her bachelor’s degree in the fall of 2012. She has proven a point not only to those who had doubts about her ability to finish school, but also to herself. Seidl says part of her motivation comes from seeing others who are capable of doing more with their lives but don’t bother to try.  

“I didn’t want people to look at me like I was a waste of talent,” Seidl says.

Applying accounting skills to agricultural background

Seidl reduced the overall cost of her education due to the Fast Track program, but also got a head start on beginning her career. She works for Christensen Farms, one of the largest agricultural businesses in the country. Her role involves inventory tracking at various local farms and provides a nice mix of agricultural and office work. One of the things Seidl enjoys most about her job is her daily interactions with the farmers.

In the future, Seidl says she would like to continue working in the agricultural field in a more traditional accounting role where she would track expenses and credits. For now she’s happy with her work and the position she has in life, especially when considering her top priority—her young son.

“I wanted to get a good job where I [knew I could] provide for my son the things he wants,” Seidl says. “It’s good knowing he’ll have that financial support for the future.”  

The takeaway

Seidl’s path to earning an accounting degree has been nontraditional. Her pregnancy came at a time when most kids her age were focused on partying and other trivial matters. But not Seidl—she was raised to work for the things she wanted and she set her mind on graduating college without debt. Rasmussen College’s Fast Track tuition discount program was what she needed to achieve her goals.

If you too have a compelling story about your experience at Rasmussen College that you’d like to share, feel free to email me at will.erstad@collegiseducation.com or leave a comment below.

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As a community blogger at Rasmussen College, Will researches and writes blog content focused on students, alumni and community events at Rasmussen College. He is passionate about learning and hopes that the inspiring stories of Rasmussen College students will help motivate current and prospective students to achieve their educational goals.

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