Monthly Archive for February, 2013

What it means to take online courses

Rebecca JenkinsonRebecca Jenkinson, 31, is a Bachelor’s of Applied Studies in Leadership and Organizational Studies student from Berlin, Wis. Jenkinson was inspired to go back to college in 2011 by her desire to work in human resources, and she said she also hopes to be a role model for her four children.

Online courses were very appealing to me, the convenience of staying in my own home and doing my homework, “whenever” seemed easy. But taking an online course is more than reading a book and submitting your answers at your leisure. It takes organization, planning and effort to be successful in an online environment.

Courses are all in the same place in the D2L site, which makes it easy to go from one to another. The syllabus and other assignments are online, printing out the contents and putting it in a three-ring binder makes it easier to be organized. Reading the syllabus before the course starts, becoming familiar with deadlines and assignments will also be beneficial.

After starting my first classes online, I realized I needed an environment that would assist me, at doing my best. Not only does that mean having my own little office with a dry erase board of weekly due dates, table, computer and comfy chair, but it also means planning a time when the kids are occupied or in bed.

Being a stay-at-home mom, makes it difficult because I am at home most of the day, which makes it very tempting to work on my homework. Sometimes, I’m able to complete little assignments or discussion posts, but I would be dreaming if I thought I could do assignments and not be interrupted. I am most productive after the kids have gone to bed.

Taking more than one online class at a time means being connected every day, often multiple times a day. Often I am checking the discussion board to see if anyone has replied to my post and then replying if needed. Checking in multiple times a day has been made easier for me because I use my phone and a tablet and the UWO app, to access D2L anywhere and be involved in discussions. Being connected so often helps me to stay current and not procrastinate.

LLCE courses go fast, waiting to find a groove may not happen, so being as prepared as possible right from the start will be very beneficial!

About To Achieve a Dream

Tim ThiedeTim Thiede is a Radio/TV/Film major with a minor in journalism. Thiede is from Richland Center, Wis. and is graduating in May 2013. He lives on campus, and is the development director for UW Oshkosh’s radio station, WRST-FM.

My name is Tim Thiede, and I am a 48-year-old nontraditional student at UW Oshkosh. When I was asked to be a blog contributor I was more than happy to say yes.

I am majoring in Radio/TV/Film with a minor in Journalism and hope to work in radio and possibly do some freelance writing. Currently I am development director for the campus radio station WRST-FM, where I also host an award winning show I created called Alternative 80s .

I am graduating in May and am about to achieve my dream of earning a college degree. I was born and raised on a farm outside Muscoda, Wis. and after I graduated from Riverdale High School I moved to Richland Center, a town close to Muscoda, where I lived most of my life.

My 4 and a half years at UW Oshkosh have had their ups and downs but mostly highs due in part to many individuals I have had the honor of getting know and am happy to call my friends. That is why I am happy to be a blog contributor so I can share my experiences with current and future nontraditional students, and hopefully after reading about my experiences it will make college life easier.

You may ask what made me decide to return to college full time. Part of it has to do with what many other individuals throughout the country have experienced. There was talk of possible lay-offs at the plant where I worked, and since I never really felt totally happy doing what I did, it made the decision of returning to school easier.

I did attend UW-Richland, a two-year institution in Richland Center, to see if it was what I wanted to do. After receiving straight A’s during one semester I was happy with my decision. After consulting with nontraditional adviser George Henze he suggested attending UW Oshkosh because of the great RTF department. The next semester I made the move.

I am very happy with the choice I made — and believe me times can be scary. Adapting to college life has its obstacles, like when I was diagnosed with Appendix Cancer back in January of 2011. But thanks to everyone I know on campus who helped me adapt, and to the great care I received at Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, along with the great support system from my family and friends, I have overcome the obstacles. Another factor is the desire I have that I will not let anything stand in my way.

I hate to say much more as forthcoming posts will explain more in detail the things I have discussed. I am looking forward to discussing it with you and I hope to make you feel more positive. I may bring tears to your eyes, as well as mine, when I go into detail about my bad experiences, especially the cancer, but most of all I hope to make you smile a lot.

Until my next post I am attaching a video from You Tube, which is an audio piece I made in late 2010 about being a nontraditional student. It was just before my cancer diagnosis, but still everything I talk about holds true.

Life as a Nontraditional Student video

Until my next post I have a couple questions to help make you think and feel free to respond to them.

First question is do you feel adults returning to school make a smart choice? Depending on your opinion, why or why not?

Another question is if you are considering returning or have returned what do you feel could be done to make your college experience a good one?

Also, if you have anything that you would like to ask me feel free to comment and I will try to answer them in my future blogs. Once again I am looking forward to telling you about the road to achieving a dream and I hope to make everyone feel better about the choices each of you make and I hope I am making your road less bumpy.

Financial Aid Strategies for Nontraditional Students

Gordana OehmenGordana Oehmen is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Leadership Development student from Oshkosh, Wis. Oehmen is originally from Belgrade, Serbia, and came to the United States in 1999. Oehmen also earned three credits for her prior learning in project planning, and six credits in foreign language.

Going to college and finding a way to pay for it is a concern for many nontraditional students.    Many of us may think that our financial aid options are limited, but they are not. There are many financial aid options available.

The majority of aid for students comes through the federal government in the form of loans, grants and work study, and it is NOT restricted by our age. Wisconsin also offers a wide variety of general grants and scholarships for its residents who are enrolled at a state supported college or university.

To determine your eligibility, you must first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The form can be found at The UW Oshkosh Financial Aid Office can also help you fill out the form if you find it confusing.

The FAFSA form is especially important to fill out if you are a nontraditional student, since more of your aid is going to come from the government. Federal loans generally have much lower costs (in terms of interest rates) than private ones.

You should also consider scholarships. Many of us think that if we cannot maintain a high point average (to meet some scholarship requirements) why bother, but if you are willing to work hard you may win a scholarship. Information on scholarships can be found on UWO Financial Aid website

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs. Before I returned to school two years ago to finish the remainder of my classes, I checked with the human resources department at my job about tuition reimbursement. My employer offers this program and I took the advantage of it. The employer pays my tuition.The reimbursement is based on my grades, and I must maintain A’s or B’s to be fully reimbursed.

Not sure where to find detailed information about financial aid?  The UWO Financial Aid Office is great resource. You can either stop by and talk with the financial aid counselor or visit their website at

What we should not do? We should not borrow more than we need. It may be tempting to borrow more for our living costs, but this will make it more difficult for us to repay the debt after we graduate.

My last 70 years

Bob Warnke Bob Warnke, 70, is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Organizational Administration and Leadership student from Oshkosh, Wis. Warnke wanted to go back to college to fulfill one of his goals, and to show his three children he could do it too. Warnke is also a Winnebago County Board member.

Hello, My name is Robert Warnke; however I only use that name on legal documents. Please refer to me as Bob.

I have been asked to work on the blog page and to talk of my life experiences and last five years at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

You may be surprised to know that I am a little older than most nontraditional students at UW Oshkosh. I turned 70 in November, but I feel 30 most of the time. I guess I will start with the reason why I am in college and not sitting in my easy chair.

I have three very intelligent children who all graduated from UW-Madison. I have always wanted to get a bachelor’s degree ever since I graduated from the Fox Valley Technical College Oshkosh campus in 1965 with an associate degree in marketing. The problem is that life got in the way and I am sure this is the case with many nontraditional students.

The day I graduated in 1965 I went home to find a letter from Uncle Sam requesting my presence in the military. I decided to join the U.S. Navy because I always wanted to go out to sea. They accommodated me and I spent a lot of time on destroyers. When I was discharged I went back to Oshkosh where I was born, because I really do love Oshkosh.

I did the usual as most of you all have done. I got a job and a girl, got married, bought a home, took out a mortgage and after seven years the little guys came along. Three to be exact — two boys and one girl.

It seems like life never stopped all of these years. I worked at a company called Leach Company for 37 years. I had a very good job there as the company driver. I loved that job. The duties were many, I did the bank deposits, picked up parts all over the state and sometimes beyond. I would pick up our customers and much more.

This job gave me time to do my things on the side. I started buying houses and fixing them up, and my wife and I went into the rental business. Then we went into the Laundromat business, (I don’t recommend that one), then the used furniture business — that was fun.

We owned, and still own, a small resort, the J.B. Resort, in Door County, where we have cottages that we lease in the summer. There is never a vacancy, and we are going into three generations of families that rent from us.

I also have been a realtor for Carol Williams and The Premier Group for 15 years. I still maintain a real estate license and do referrals with other realtors.

Then I ran for the Winnebago County Board 12 years ago and I recently was elected to my sixth term. I really do enjoy being part of the county board, and I am getting more and more involved every year.

I am chairmen of the Veterans Commission and soon to be chairmen of the Aviation Committee, and I serve on the Highway Committee and three state committees for the Wisconsin County Association.

When I retired from active real estate I decided to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree in Organizational Administration and Leadership. The main reason is because I wanted to, and the other reason is to show my three kids the “ol man can do it too!”  One more thing to mention, I have been married to my lovely wife Beth for going on 44 years.

The last thing I have to say is this is my last semester I will be graduating in May. It has been a long road but it has been worth every class I took.

Stay cool.

Where does the time go?

Jason SchiltzJason Schiltz, 38, is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Organizational Administration student from Appleton, Wis. Schiltz was inspired to go back to college in 2009 by his wife, who also completed a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies in Organizational Administration from UW Oshkosh. Schiltz said he also hopes to motivate his three young children to continue their education.

Last semester I enrolled in Psychology 101. I absolutely loved the class, and I highly recommend it, whether it is required for your degree or not.

There is one nuance that I was not entirely prepared for, though; I was required to participate in four credits worth of studies—psych studies. Now these studies could vary from memory studies to eating habits, but each study had specific requirements students had to meet to participate.

Requirements could be as simple as being a student or as specific as being a certain gender between the ages of 18 and 25. My professor announced the study requirement at the beginning of the course, making it abundantly clear that if you did not participate in four credits worth of studies you would fail. If you had a perfect 100 percent on all four exams and only three study credits, you failed…cut and dry.

I reviewed the available studies, on occasion, never really finding anything that interested my discerning palette. About four weeks from the end of semester, I began paying a little more attention to what studies were available, but nothing appealed to me. The following week I began to panic, I couldn’t find a study that I qualified for. It didn’t matter what the studies were about, I just wanted to get my four credits in.

Two weeks out and one popped up that I would get three credits for; I signed up immediately. For the fourth and final credit, I would have volunteered for just about anything, and there was nothing I could find. By the end of that week, one study appeared for two credits; one study – two credits – one timeslot, and it was mine! I assure you, there are very few times in my life that I felt such relief.

There are a plethora of details and even more excuses I could provide in this little story, but the point of this semi-coherent blathering is don’t wait. Plan ahead, get your work done and put the stress behind you.

Nontrads have enough stressors already, don’t add to them. If you have difficulty planning and you need help, PLEASE, ask someone…ask me (I can tell you what not to do, most assuredly), ask one of the beautiful people we call academic advisers, or ask your professor/instructor. Just ask somebody. As nontrads, our time is not always OUR time and little things can become big problems for your academic career.

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