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Q&A with an Adult Learner Blazing a New Career Path

Monday, July 24, 2017
Written By: Kara Leiterman - Strategist, Media Relations
Joan Koehne was 50 when she enrolled as a part-time student in the marketing program at NWTC in 2015. She had already earned a bachelor’s degree while in her 20s and wanted to update her skills to transition to a new career. Joan graduated in May with a degree in social media marketing and in January launched a content writing business, Writer to the Rescue, a division of Packerland Websites. Here’s a bit of her story.
Joan Koehne
Q: Why did you return to school?
A: I was ready for a career change, so I started sending out applications but I really wasn’t getting anywhere. It was really frustrating! So I started to think about what I could do to find a job, and that’s when I started thinking about going back to school.

Q: Why Choose NWTC?
A: It was affordable. It was close to home. It had a lot of different options. I could take classes and still work full time. I wasn’t ready to quit my job entirely and dive right into school. It seemed like a good way to try out some classes and see how I liked them.

Q: What challenges did you face?
A: Everything was new – ordering textbooks, doing things online, remembering a student ID number. It was something I had to get used to.  One thing that was really helpful was that help was just a phone call away. I could call the help line and get all my answers answered. It got easier as time went on and I got more familiar with everything.

Q: What was your biggest surprise?
A: Even though I felt like a fish out of water, it seemed like the students and instructors in my classes were very kind, very accepting. They really made me feel like I was in the right place in my life.

Q: What advice do you have for adult students?
A: You need to make school a priority. You need to spend time on your classes. Pay attention when you’re there, do the homework, study – do all those things that make for a good student. I think you also have to realize you can’t do everything. If you’re working full time and taking classes part time, you might have to cut back on other things in your life. There’s just not time for everything.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a student?
A: I really enjoy the opportunity to be a learner again. There’s so much excitement in learning new things. I remember the first time I stood up with my group to make a presentation, and I thought, when’s the last time I had to do something like this? There were just so many new experiences and exciting ways to learn new skills and go forward in life.

Q: Any final thoughts?
A: If you’re thinking about going back to school, meet with one of the counselors at NWTC. That’s really where I started out. Do some online research to see what other options might work for you, and then start making your plans. Good luck!

Note from NWTC:  Watch for more articles from Joan as she writes a guest blog telling about her life as an NWTC student.

​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 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.