The Great Recession took a heavy toll on northern Michigan and Betti Schlagel was one of its victims. A successful entrepreneur before 2008, her home-based group daycare was a second home to 12 children. But in the months that followed the economic downturn, all of her clients left the state in pursuit of work.
With three daughters at home, Schlagel had no time to feel sorry for herself. She quickly adjusted her goals, took the necessary classes to find a full-time job in healthcare and eventually began taking college courses part time to become a registered nurse. Between her children, husband and a full time job, Schlagel’s time was precious. It didn’t take her long to discover the best way forward.
“I did not want to waste my time being away from my family because of driving to classes and studying in a library,” Schlagel said. “I wanted my time with my family when I was not working. New England College’s online program offered the flexibility my family and I needed for me to succeed as a full-time employee, a mother, wife and student.”
That flexibility would prove to be valuable. During the Christmas break before her final semester, her youngest daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy. With the finish line for her degree in sight, Schlagel was forced to test the limits of that flexibility and lean on her husband as the family had new concerns to deal with.
“My children inspire me to succeed,” Schlagel said. “After my daughter was diagnosed, it was my most difficult semester as we were taking time off work to deal with emergencies. She was falling for no known reason at school and she had to go through a lot of testing. I wanted to quit to be with her, but my husband was my rock through it all. He supported me and took time off from work to care for her, and that allowed me to focus on school.”
Working full time in healthcare while pursuing her degree, Schlagel began to examine the diverse array of career paths NEC could lead her to. She changed her major to Business Administration with a focus on accounting. She tailored her courses to suit her new goal and found that some were a natural fit.
“My favorite class was Organizational Behavior,” Schlagel said. “I tend to be a little too organized at times, so that class was truly fun for me. I could relate to it in every aspect of work and my personal life.”
After earning her associate’s degree from NEC, Schlagel possesses a newfound confidence in her ability to handle any workload and balance it with her family life.
“I have learned that I am fully capable of meeting deadlines and I work well under pressure,” Schlagel said. “But I also learned that my family always comes first and there will be challenges with my family that must be handled. Sometimes schoolwork and work will be put aside. It will not be the end of the world when it happens, either.”
As she heads out into the professional world, Schlagel is excited about the future and the opportunities her degree could present her and the family.
“This degree will open doors for new opportunities in my community where a degree is needed in most fields that pay more than minimum wage,” Schlagel said. “If I had known before starting NEC’s online program that I would be so successful at it, I’d have started a few years sooner.”
We spoke with Schlagel about her experience at NEC.
What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
My advice to those considering enrolling in the online program is this: you will get the attention and help you need to succeed. Your advisors are there for you, they will call you when you are available to talk with them. Your advisor will walk you through every step of the way. I have to thank my advisors for all of their help and support, Cory Carpenter and Kelly Burgess.
What were the most important factors in your decision to choose NEC?
The most important factor in my decision to choose NEC was the flexibility, knowing that I was taking classes full time and I had my advisor available when I needed them for important decisions concerning my career outlook and keeping my classes on track.
What was your job while working your way through school?
When I started classes with New England College I was a Dialysis Technician and then made a switch to an office setting as a customer service representative where I have been promoted to a Business Development Coordinator.
What part of your NEC experience did you most enjoy?
I enjoyed my whole experience with NEC, but I especially enjoyed working with my advisors in planning my educational goals.
What is one fun fact about you?
I love to be silly with my kids and my husband in public places. We actually get a little ridiculous when we go to Dairy Queen. My husband and I get so silly my kids have ran out and locked themselves in the car.