Having a child while attending college can sometimes create quite a dilemma. The stability and financial gains that can come with earning a degree can be very beneficial for a young family. But the time and attention required to raise a family often takes from the time and attention needed to earn a degree.
The answer to this conundrum for Marcie Duke, like many others, was to leave school to focus on her family.
But Duke didn’t give up on her goal of eventually earning an accounting degree. Thanks to the online courses she took at the Bismarck, N.D., campus, she earned her degree while still raising her family.
Here is how Duke made her dream come true.
Learning with flexibility
After graduating high school in 1997, Duke briefly attended college until she became pregnant and dropped out. She felt at the time that staying home to raise her child was the best decision she could make for her new family. She always knew that getting her degree would be beneficial in the long term, but still wanted to make sure her schooling wouldn’t interfere with her parental responsibilities.
That dedication to her family—in addition to a 90-mile roundtrip drive to the Bismarck campus—made scheduling flexibility and the option of online classes the deciding factor in her decision to attend Rasmussen College.
But the transition back to school wasn’t without its challenges.
Though online courses provided maximum flexibility, they also created a challenge for Duke, at least initially. For her, the online classes took some getting used to because of their largely self-directed format.
Duke says that her time management for the first quarter wasn’t the best and it took a little time for her to learn to prioritize her tasks. In fact, after struggling and earning her first (and only) “C,” Duke says she was unsure if she wanted to continue her education. Her family, however, wasn’t about to let her quit.
“My family pushed me to go forward and wouldn’t let me give up,” she says.
Duke pushed on, and eventually became a work study tutor at the Bismarck campus. Her time spent working as a tutor actually opened her eyes to another potential career path in teaching.
“I just like being able to help people out,” Duke says. “It’s really great to see the light bulb turn on when helping someone with a subject.”
Duke graduated in March 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but the idea of teaching has now got her planning to earn a master’s degree and to one day become an online instructor. The teaching she did as a tutor has already earned her some recognition—she received the Rasmussen Award at her graduation for her commitment to her studies and her dedication to helping her classmates.
“I’m the type of person to think everyone else put more work in, so winning the award was a complete surprise for me,” Duke says. “I’m just glad they didn’t expect me to give a speech.”
Family provides motivation, flips roles
Report card day is the source of anxiety and motivation for many kids. Low grades bring disappointed looks and admonishment from parents, while good grades build pride and a sense of accomplishment. In Duke’s family the roles were reversed—her children knew when grades would be posted and did their best to hold her to the same standards she had for them.
This role reversal, while amusing, actually benefited Duke and her family in ways that she couldn’t have imagined.
“It was a good motivator as they knew when grades were up and wanted to see them right away,” Duke says. “They also found that I don’t know everything and make mistakes, but it was good to be able to show them that if they work hard and study they can make up for those mistakes.”
Duke says that the role-reversal also benefited her children—once they started giving her the parental treatment with regard to grades, Duke noticed her children doing better in school as well. It seems as though a little perspective can go a long way.
Degree pays off
Now that Duke has earned her degree, she is working full time as an office manager for an industrial services company in Bismarck, N.D. Duke loves her new job and she feels that the variety of duties—everything from managing payroll and inventory to answering phones and interacting with customers—keeps every day interesting.
By earning her degree, Duke also landed a rewarding job that leaves open the door to future possibilities—especially if she and her husband decide to follow through on plans to open a small business of their own. For now though, Duke finds comfort in the long term stability she created for herself and her family by earning her degree.
Don’t let excuses prevent you from earning your accounting degree. Rasmussen College can provide you the flexibility needed to earn your degree while keeping up with your busy personal life. So what’s stopping you?