How I Got My Online Degree - Michael Bramante
Graduation Date: Degree expected June 2012
How I Paid For It: I am paying for college through scholarships and family support.
How Long It Took: It will take me 2 years to get my Associate's degree.
What Else I Was Doing At The Same Time: In addition to being a full-time online student at NECB, I am also an elite Junior-level ice dance athlete, training in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. My normal weekly workload includes 8-10 hours of on-ice and off-ice training each day, working a part-time job, and attending college full-time. In 2011, my ice dance partner Kaitlin and I were named to Team USA. We represented the U.S. in both Brasov, Romania (in Transylvania!) and Tallinn, Estonia. We have also competed this year in Detroit, MI, Lake Placid, NY and Fort Collins, CO. I am excited about competing at the upcoming U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, CA.
When I Studied: I did a lot of my coursework in the evenings and weekends. However, with the intense training and also the competition travel, I tried to make the most of any additional time that I had. That meant that I was "cracking the books" on breaks, at lunchtime, and even during the quiet times of my part-time job.
Where I Studied: The nice thing about taking online courses is that you can do your coursework wherever you have your laptop. One of the funniest places where I did my coursework was in Brasov, Romania. The hotel was an old ski resort at the top of a mountain. Internet service was non-existent in our rooms and spotty even in the hotel lobby. But, I was able to find a spot on the 3rd floor landing in the stairwell. So, for the week I was in Romania, I was doing my homework sitting on the stairs of a hotel in Transylvania. Like I said, you can do your course work anywhere!
Most Challenging Part: When I first started, I was worried about doing research papers. However, NECB's Information Literacy for College Success course was terrific and taught me how to effectively conduct research in the eLibrary. For me, the most challenging part has been keeping up with the coursework while I travelled for competitions. It was not impossible to do, but I had to be proactive and focused in order to get a lot of my weekly work done before I headed off to a competition.
Best Thing My Family Did To Help Me: My family is very supportive of my educational goals and my skating aspirations. I couldn't be living my dream without their support!
What Kept Me Motivated: My mom has gone back to school recently at NECB and she has been very good at motivating me to continue with my coursework. I also like the idea of getting my Associate's degree on my way to getting a Bachelor's. Thinking about earning a degree in 2 years, followed by another degree 2 years later makes the task less daunting.
Highest Point: One of my most favorite courses was Financial Literacy. In that course, I learned the importance of making wise career choices. At that point, I decided that I want to not only complete my Bachelor's degree, but I also want to continue on to earn an MBA degree. I learned so many useful things in the Financial Literacy course that will have a direct impact on the way I manage my money. That course was definitely a highlight!
My Next Big Challenge: I plan to continue competing next year, and hopefully will have even more international competition assignments. My challenge will be to continue to push through to my Bachelor's degree while training and competing full-time.
My favorite part about NECB: The ability to attend college online at NECB has allowed me to pursue my skating career while still keeping my education a high priority.