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Enlightening and attainable

Tracy S.
Associate in Technical Communications
Chattahoochee Technical College, 2012

I was 28 and the mother of a three year old when I decided to go to college. This made me a non-traditional student, in every sense of the word. I had been working in food service/retail—I was an assistant manager working for a well-known chain of coffee shops. I knew I didn’t want to deal with grumpy coffee drinkers the rest of my life, so I felt that getting a degree was my best option. When I first started in school, I planned to get a degree in accounting. I figured this would help me find a nice office job somewhere after graduation. However, my life would soon radically change.

I began working part time for a marketing firm, creating web content. I learned I had a knack for this and wanted to pursue a career as a web writer. As I was attending a local school (Chattahoochee Technical College), I did not have many degree options (nothing in English, or journalism), so I switched to an associate degree in technical communications.

I took around half my classes on campus and half online. I found I preferred the live classes for certain subjects, such as math and English. Spending time in the classroom for these disciplines was useful not only because I had time to work directly with the teacher, but also because interacting with the other students in a one-on-one manner often helped me understand difficult topics. Additionally, I found that I was more motivated when I knew I had live classes to attend. However, certain classes, like history, accounting, and computing I could handle online with no problems as they were relatively straightforward. I lived at home with my (now ex) husband and daughter during my school experience.

I now work as a full-time freelance writer. I mainly work with companies in the home improvement and construction industry. I use quite a bit of the skills I learned in my communications and English classes. Additionally, I learned the ins and outs of Microsoft Office and other programs I use on a daily basis. I would not have experienced nearly as much success if I did not have the college level English classes that were part of my communications degree.

My enrollment and financial aid experience was simple, and my school really helped me through the process. The FAFSA on the web was very simple to complete and the school helped with all the enrollment paperwork. I recommend that all students spend time talking with an enrollment specialist at the school; it really helped me to understand the process.

Looking back, I wish I had transferred to a four-year university when I decided to get into the field I pursued. If I had done this, I would be almost finished with a four year English or communications degree. However, I still have my associate degree, which I am very proud of receiving and I plan to enroll at Kennesaw State University in the next year to go for that bachelor! I encourage everyone to go for their dreams.

There were some benefits to attending a smaller school. Most notably, I had no student debt. The Pell Grant and HOPE scholarship (a Georgia lottery sponsored scholarship program for those with good grades) paid for everything. I did work part time my entire school career, but it was just to help my family pay the bills. I never needed it to supplement my educational expenses.

College was a good time for me, and I will certainly continue my education.

EduTrek Comments

  • Take the time to sit down with an enrollment or financial aid specialist at your school; they’ll help walk you through the financial aid process so you can take advantage of everything that you qualify for.
  • Attending a smaller school, such as a community or technical college, can be a more affordable option, and bring with it less student debt. Make sure you also take advantage of scholarships and grants.
  • You may prefer on-campus classes to online classes for certain subjects where interacting one-on-one with the professor and other students can enhance your understanding of a subject.