Romeoville, Ill., business management student Robert Kroll had some pretty lousy experiences with school until attending Rasmussen College. In fact, Kroll says the difference is night and day when he compares his experience at Rasmussen College to the waitlists and absentee advisors he found elsewhere.
“[My experience] has been head and shoulders above what I’ve had in the past,” Kroll says. “It’s like comparing McDonald’s to a high-end steak dinner.”
This is the story of how the support at Rasmussen College made all the difference for Kroll.
Prior experiences & frustrations
Cooking has always held a spot in Kroll’s heart, and after graduating high school in 2004, he enrolled in an Illinois-based school with plans to enter its culinary arts program. He was disappointed to realize there was a three-year waiting list to get into the program.
So in order to make the best of a bad situation, Kroll began taking business classes to prepare himself for the day he would finally open a restaurant.
The frustration with that particular school didn’t end with the waitlist. Kroll says he never had the same student advisor twice and was basically picking courses on his own out of a manual. That lack of guidance, coupled with nonexistent financial aid, frustrated Kroll to the point where he’d seen enough and left the school in 2006.
Kroll continued his education at a second Illinois university for three semesters, and despite a much higher price tag—tuition there was more than double that of his first school—his experience wasn’t much improved.
“My regular counselor canceled every time I set up an appointment and would just email me the codes for the classes I wanted to take,” Kroll says. “I never once met her in person over those three semesters.”
Kroll was offered a management position at Massage Envy while attending that school, but soon found the 50-plus hours he worked each week to be too much on top of school work. Kroll left school in 2008 to focus on his job and, while the work experience was valuable, he ended up leaving his job at Massage Envy after three years.
Once again Kroll was in search of a school that met his needs, and it appears the third time was the charm.
A clear difference
Kroll first found out about Rasmussen College from a counselor he met through the previously-offered massage therapy program. He wanted to test the Rasmussen waters but he’d been burned before by schools making big promises. He decided to take a single online class.
The class went smoothly, but what left a bigger impression on Kroll was the staff.
“They were warm and inviting and would do their best to help you if you had issues or questions,” Kroll says. “The instructors genuinely care about you getting your education—it’s not just a job to them.”
Evidence of how much the staff cares can be seen in the effort made to get Kroll involved outside of the classroom. He says he was approached one day about an internship opportunity at the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce, applied, and landed the internship shortly after.
Kroll trained as a marketing intern, and after filling in admirably for a departing coworker, he landed a full-time job with the chamber as an office manager. The stability of full-time work is great, but for Kroll, the networking opportunities that come with working at the chamber are an even bigger prize.
“It’s nice getting to talk to small business owners and learn from their experiences,” Kroll says. “A lot of times their advice isn’t them telling me ‘this is exactly what you should do’ it’s more ‘this is exactly what you shouldn’t do.’”
Kroll’s position at the chamber also helped with other extracurricular activities—because of connections to local businesses he was able to secure funding for his campus’ DECA chapter to travel without taking on expenses.
Kroll and another DECA member have put that funding to good use. The tandem brought home first place in a regional competition held at DePaul University, and they hope to compete in a national competition in Washington D.C.
As part of the competition, Kroll’s team was tasked with providing quick solutions to a hypothetical business issue and presenting their proposal to a panel of judges. The competition was a good way for Kroll to apply what he’s learned in school to a realistic scenario and also step out of his comfort zone.
“This was the first time I’d ever been in a competition like this,” Kroll says. “It was a little nerve-wracking but also really exciting.”
Kroll has also shared the wealth when it comes to his connections from the chamber of commerce. He met Illinois State Representative Natalie Manley through the chamber and shortly after visiting with her she visited the Romeoville campus and spoke to members of DECA about leadership and the value of networking.
“I really think she helped inspire some of us to make the most of our time and get involved,” Kroll says. “I had never actually met a politician before but after seeing how she follows through and cares about her constituents she has my respect.”
Chasing his dream
Kroll insists that the schools he attended prior to Rasmussen weren’t a waste of time—despite his frustrations he was able to transfer a substantial number of credits and isn’t far from completing his bachelor’s degree.
He decided to move at a more deliberate pace now that he’s working full-time, and is taking around two classes per quarter. Kroll says the pace allows him to focus on both work and school without taking from one or the other. He hopes to graduate sometime in 2016, depending on whether or not he chooses to take on a specialization like entrepreneurship.
Kroll hasn’t given up completely on his initial culinary dreams—he says he’d love to become the owner-operator of a bed and breakfast. No matter what he does in the future, Kroll will have a great blend of experience, education and connections to succeed in nearly any endeavor.
Have you had a lackluster experience in college so far? You owe it to yourself to see the difference and check out what Rasmussen College has to offer. If you’re ready to upgrade your educational experience, click the “Request Program Info” button at the top of the page to find out more.