Monthly Archive for March, 2013

When I was your age…

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.

Humans have a basic need to be accepted. For you psychology majors and buffs, you know this quite well. Many of us nontrads might try to dismiss this need, but the fact remains; deep down, we all want to fit in. It can be argued that fitting in as a non-trad may be easier the younger you are, but I would like to point out just three rules you must abide, to fit in no matter what your age.
First and foremost, you have to accept that you are NOT an 18-year-old freshman. No matter how you dress, how you talk, or how you walk; you are…different. Your classmates have noticed, your professor has noticed, and you know it; accept it. Once you have accepted that you are not the same, you begin to develop the ability to fit in…better. You will surely be better accepted.

My second point ties very closely with my first, in that you recognize that you are different. This recognition means that you have to make a conscious effort to leave your VAAAAST experience at the door. You are, most likely, in this class to learn. Your thoughts are not any more valuable to the student body of this course than the 19-year-old sophomore that you sit next to, and the professor does not need you to expound on his or her every analogy with your own words and personal experience. Now you have to realize, I am not trying to tell you that nontrads are to be seen and not heard; but take care in what you say and how much you say it. If you are in a classroom of traditional students, allow the professor to teach and allow yourself (and your classmates) to learn.

Finally, you have to recognize when to forget rule number one. You aren’t an 18-year-old student; you might have children as old as the students sitting next to; but you are in college. You are here to learn and to have a bit of fun (more so if you think learning is fun). Go with it. Forget you’re older. Realize your classmates are adults and can handle a conversation with another adult…maybe even lunch. In the end, to fit in and be accepted, the nontraditional student needs to accept the traditional student and forget his or her differences.

Ice water, closed den door, and Ebby

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.

I would like to relate some of my experiences during the last five years of attending UW Oshkosh.

First of all the reason it took me five years is that I had to take some time off because my doctors had other plans which included eye surgery, three knee surgeries (two total replacements), one shoulder surgery (my sixth) and one cancer surgery.

My point is that you never, never give up!

Once you start this journey to get a degree you may be sidetracked, but do not let it get you down. In the last five years I have spent countless hours sitting in my den doing homework with the door closed, a big glass of ice water and Ebby, my great big Yellow Tom Cat at my side. Ebby followed me where ever I went.

Ebby Warnke

Ebby Warnke

I also have an office in the basement where I did a lot of reading, so Ebby followed me there and would sit on my desk next to me while I read. The last time I was in school was 45 years ago when I received an associate degree from the Oshkosh Technical Institute (now Fox Valley Technical College).

I want to help anyone who has gone back to school as a nontraditional student know that you can do it and get over the rough parts by putting in your time. You can do it by never giving up no matter what. There is help out there.
UW Oshkosh has excellent professors, advisers, tutors, the Writing Center and reference librarians to help you. All you have to do to get help is ask and you will get help.

I have had several teachers who would spend an hour or more each week just to help me understand the assignments. The one thing most nontraditional students have going for them is the option of Assessment for Prior Learning.

In this class, which is taught by Karen Bowen, you apply for credit that you learned in your experiences in your job. I have earned 12 credits towards my degree, and Karen Bowen will work very hard to help you get these credits applied toward your degree.

I also have to give a lot of credit to my wife, and my three kids for helping to get me over the rough parts of this journey—especially in the areas of how to manipulate a computer and D2L.

My kids are so good, and they know how to do things, but they have a hard time teaching me because they don’t have the time.

There is little doubt that going back to school is a big commitment and very time consuming, but I just want to encourage you to make that commitment and stick to it. I am retired from a full-time job, even though I am keeping pretty busy with my role on the Winnebago County Board, running a small resort, playing golf and keeping fish in the freezer, so I know it is an even greater task to raise a family, bring home the bacon and going for a degree all at the same time. But my advice is do not over do it with taking on too many credits. If it takes a little longer so be it! You can do it! And it will reap rewards for you in the end.

My only regret in this story is that I will not be able to have Ebby walk down the aisle with me at commencement on May 11. After 14 years Ebby died two weeks ago. Give your favorite pet a hug tonight and make sure they have ice water when they are with you.

Make Your College Experience Better—Get Involved!

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.

When I became a full-time student at UW Oshkosh in 2008 I was excited about the decision that I made to return to school. In order to attend college full time and save expenses, I decided to leave my home in Richland Center and live on campus in Stewart Hall, which housed nontraditional students at that time. The first day I moved in the excitement turned into fear and uncertainty that I would fit in because of the age gap between me and those who were attending the University.

With this new found fear I could have either hid in my room until I had to attend classes or I could go out and get to know others. The great thing about living in a residence hall was the hall staff. Once I got to know the staff they encouraged me to take part in the events on campus including Taste of Oshkosh, which is held during opening week. After visiting various tables and talking with different organizations I realized that the best way to be a part of the campus was get involved. Since I am a Radio/TV/Film major I decided I wanted to get involved at WRST, the campus radio station.

Tim Thiede On Air at WRST

Tim Thiede On Air at WRST

Getting involved with WRST, and a few years later Titan TV, not only helped me get involved and meet many great people it also helped me with my Radio/TV/Film broadcasting skills.

Another way I have gotten involved on campus is working at the front desk of Evans and Stewart Halls where I have gotten to know so many great individuals. This made me realize no matter your age others treat you with kindness. I feel this is because we are all students who are here to achieve the same dream.

My activities are just a couple examples of getting involved. There are so many organizations you can get involved with on campus despite your age. Ways you can discover getting involved include Taste of Oshkosh, the Student Leadership & Involvement Center and the LLCE adult student resources.

Getting involved on the UW Oshkosh campus is a great experience despite your age. Not only will you meet great individuals you can call friends, but you may even gain a second family as I have been blessed to have happen to me.

Endless Rewards

Wendy Van AhnWendy Van Ahn is an Educational Leadership graduate student from Oshkosh, Wis. Van Ahn was inspired to go back to college in 2006 to complete her bachelor’s degree when she started working at the University. She plans on graduating in the summer of 2013, and currently works as a Community Outreach Specialist for the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement.

Off and on for years the thought of completing my degree had crossed my mind, only to vanish as quickly as it had appeared. After all, I had opted to get married, raise a family and be a stay-at-home mom. How could I consider returning to college and complete my degree? Ever since my early childhood, my life’s dream was to become a wife and mother.

It wasn’t until I began working at the University that the idea of returning to complete my degree became a prominent and serious thought. Ultimately, it was my work with nontraditional students (in LLCE adult student resources) that gave me the incentive to take the leap and work at earning my degree.

Daily I was connected with other students who were not so unlike myself. They had multiple obligations that were higher on their priority lists than their schoolwork.Yet somehow they managed to carve out a piece of their life and dedicate it to their education.
It was not long before I began to see myself in their shoes. I made the decision to return to college and finish the degree I had started some 24 years earlier!

Just like the students I worked with on a daily basis, I experienced what I like to call the “mood swing” of emotions and feelings…excitement, fear, anxiety, wonder and more all at the same time.

Thanks to the two years of credits I had earned right out of high school, I was nearly half way to my bachelor’s degree. As I thought about what I would major in, I knew I needed a degree program that would fit my life.

I worked full time during the day and was active in my children’s lives. This is how I chose the Bachelor of Liberal Studies program which offered accelerated evening and online classes.  The perfect match!

I first began classes in the spring of 2006 and looking ahead, commencement day seemed to be far off somewhere in the distant future. Little did I realize how quickly time would fly by and that by December of 2009 I would walk across the stage and receive my degree!

Adding school and homework to an already full life is challenging, but the rewards are endless, especially when you open yourself up to the learning experience!

There are many stories I can and will share about earning my degree. The good news is that I did it and you can too! You may even be like me and continue on to earn your master’s degree, which I anticipate completing this summer


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