No Easy Answers: Tussling with Career Change Decisions

For me, returning to school as an adult learner was a little like walking into a wading pool. No splashy cannonballs for me! I didn’t throw my work keys on my boss’ desk and yell, “I quit!” and sign up for classes the next day. I returned to college gradually.

My decision to enroll at NWTC didn’t come easily. I was filled with self-doubt and indecision, but the more I researched my options, the more I became convinced I was ready to dive in at NWTC.

I tested the waters first by taking the Microsoft Word intro class at the Oconto Falls Regional Learning Center in the summer of 2013. I wanted to know if I still had what it took to succeed in college because it had been about 25 years since I earned my bachelor’s degree. Much had changed in my life over that time, and I wondered if I could keep my head above water as a part-time college student.

I found out that I was miserable going straight from my job to the computer lab, so I did my assignments from home instead. It was slow-going, but the textbook was easy to follow and my instructor was quick to answer my emails if I had questions. That class helped me realize I could succeed in college just as well as students half my age. Returning to school was possible!

I already had a full-time job as a newspaper editor, but I also had an inkling that I was ready to take the plunge and change careers. The classifieds in our newspaper revealed a steady demand for workers in three industries: trucking, farming, and healthcare. No offense to anyone working in these professions, but I wasn’t interested in any of them and crossed them off my list.

Sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do can be beneficial. I wanted to build upon my bachelor’s degree in journalism and nearly 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor. I didn’t want to start from scratch and learn a whole new set of skills.

I remember talking with four different career advisors, both in-person and over the phone, before I officially enrolled in the marketing program in 2014. One of the advisors referred me to where I answered a series of questions about myself, and it spit out a report that neatly summed up my interests, values, and skills. I still have a copy of the 2013 report. By talking with advisors and completing the questionnaires at, I had a golden opportunity to focus just on me as I tried to answer some big questions in my life.

After a lot of soul-searching I started classes in January 2015 and graduated with a marketing degree in May 2017. Today I am a blogger, writer, and marketing professional as co-owner of Writer to the Rescue, a division of Packerland Websites.

If you feel like you’re treading water in a career that just isn’t taking you anywhere, NWTC might be your ticket to something better. The hardest part is gathering the courage to jump off the diving board and feeling confident about where you’ll land.

Why don’t you take the first step? Register for a Get Started Session, take a campus tour, live chat, or schedule an appointment with an advisor to see if NWTC is meant for you. January is all about new beginnings. I took the plunge in January 2015 when I returned to college. Is 2018 the year for you?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Koehne, of Abrams, is a 2017 graduate of NWTC. A former newspaper editor, she co-owns Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites.
Sarah Scharenbrock - Advisor, Admissions

About the Expert

Sarah Scharenbrock - Advisor, Admissions