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Life changing.

Rachel M.
Certificate in Medical Transcription
Tacoma Community College, 2010

I never wanted to go to college. I graduated from high school in 2002 with high honors (only one B in all four years), and the people around me thought I was throwing my life away. But I had other plans. I was going to get a job and work my way up. So I did. I started selling furniture, got a quick online degree certificate in interior design, and found myself making quite a bit of money for a young adult in my early twenties. I even became a general manager after only a few years. And then the recession hit. Furniture was no longer in demand. I got laid off.

When the words "we have to let you go" crossed through my brain, I thought my life was over. In retrospect, these six simple words were the best thing that ever happened to me. Let me tell you why.

Being faced with unemployment made me really start thinking about what mattered to me. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to start having a family, so I needed to find a job I could do from home. That's when I faced the harsh reality that I could not sell furniture from home. I realized I was going to have to go to college after all.

As I started looking through Tacoma Community College's catalog, I was browsing for any job I could do from home and still make a decent amount of money. I didn't care if it was interesting or my passion, as long as I was able to work from home once I had my kids. That's when I landed on Medical Transcription. I have to tell you, when I initially signed up for classes, I felt invigorated. Like I was finally going to do something worthwhile with my life.

When it came time to enroll for classes, I learned that time was of the essence. The enrollment at the school was so high that you had to fight for a spot in a class. I meticulously planned out my classes for each quarter (it was a four-quarter program) to make sure I could get all of the requirements in. Unfortunately, I didn't get all of the classes I wanted when I wanted them, so I had to really get creative with the planning.

Paying for school was pretty painless (the perk of a community college). They had an easy pay program where I could divide my amount owed into three payments throughout the quarter. Without this option, I'm not sure how I would have paid for school.

I decided to take all of my classes online, merely out of laziness. I didn't want to have to get dressed and drive all the way across town every day. Looking back, this is my biggest regret. Sure, I was able to do schoolwork on my own schedule, but I didn't get any of the socialization that college is supposed to bring. I didn't make any college friends and I didn't attend any social activities. If I could do it again, I would at least take one on-campus class just to add the social aspect to my college experience.

About halfway through school I learned that I was pregnant. Now I was really glad I enrolled in school as quickly as I did after getting laid off. I would be done with school by the time my baby was born, and my dream of working from home could be a reality.

At the end of 2010, after a year of hard work, and with a medical transcription degree in my hand, I felt like a pro. That is, until I started applying for jobs. All of the medical transcription companies gave the same test whether you were just starting out or an expert. Needless to say, I couldn't pass a single test.

Luckily, the company I did an internship for at the end of my schooling offered me a job, but it was for general and legal transcription, not medical. But hey, I took it.

Today, I spend my days transcribing in the mornings and playing with my kids (I have since had another one) during the day. Even though I am not working specifically in medical transcription, I know I would not be where I am today without the degree in my name.

EduTrek Comments

  • If you're studying online, try to take at least one on-campus class so that you get the social experience of college.
  • Make sure your degree fits your life. Rachel needed a job that she could do from home to be with her kids, and so she did a program in medical transcription.
  • Carefully plan out your classes so that you get all of your requirements completed on time.
  • Take advantage of internships; they can give you a head start with on-the-job experience that employers are looking for.