15 Mar

IBEW members are sometimes surprised that before they even take one class at the NLC, they already have 45 credits towards their degree. Once enrolled in a degree program, the seven-week classes fly by and are checked off quickly from the list.

One such student, Steve Mitchell of IBEW Local 728 said, “It’s very motivating. I take one at a time and it’s a lot easier to focus with the compartmentalized time frame.” Steve is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management, which he’ll complete in no time, thanks to his apprenticeship, some prior courses he’d taken and the seven-week online courses.

Because the courses are all online, students are often surprised with the camaraderie that forms within the classes. “Classes don’t feel anonymous or automated. After just a few classes we know each other really well,” says Steve of Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., who regularly connects with both his fellow students and his instructor who is always available for help.

I have more chances to get in touch with students and my instructor than at a regular college.

Students find that they can earn credit for learning gained outside the traditional classroom environment through the Prior Learning Assessment process.

A Race to the Finish
Steve had always meant to finish college but kept putting it off. With a 16-year-old son about to head to college, Steve knew he had to finish before his son did, so he could stop checking the “some college” box.

His son Ben and wife Lori are very supportive of his decision to finish his degree—even going into another room so Steve can do his schoolwork in the family room. It’s this type of support that helps him to overcome the time management challenge inherent in going back to school.

“I would absolutely encourage JATC graduates to attend the NLC. I’d tell them you’ve been doing well so far, but you get to a point in your career that a degree would help,” says Steve.

Just an Internet Connect Away
One of his classmates is fellow IBEW member John Dickinson of Ganesport, NY, and Local 236. Although they’re on the opposite end of the East Coast, the online class environment allows all of the students to connect weekly through live online conversations.

Photo of John Dickinson

John Dickinson is working towards his Construction Management degree at the NLC

Time Management and Organization are Keys to Success
“With online learning, there’s more of a commitment to manage your time and be organized than with a traditional classroom. But within that you have flexibility,” says John. “You have a family and career already. No one’s telling you what to do when.”

With a six-month-old and a two-and-a-half year old, finding the time to fit school into his life wasn’t easy, says John, but he learned quickly: “I have less free time, but I enjoy school so it’s not hard—it’s a small sacrifice.”

First Class Breaks Down the Barriers to Success
Having been out of school for years, John was worried about getting into the swing of things—especially when in came to his fear of writing papers. Fortunately, he found that the NLC’s curriculum was tailor-made for adult students.

NLC helps as far as having plenty of resources there for you when you get started. The first class [Digital Learning] helped me got rid of the nerves and fear because I was eased into it.

In just a few classes, John says he’s learned a lot: “In the past, school was just something you had to do. Now I look forward to the classes because I’m interested in the topic.”

Learn more about earning a degree or certificate in construction management.