How to Take a Nontraditional Path to College

Posted by on December 31, 2012

Tabatha Nentl feels that she didn’t exactly come to college through the front door. As a middle-aged woman and mother, she found herself at a crossroads in her life, needing to decide which path to take next.

She explains, “[I could] stay on the same path I had been on and not truly be happy, or . . . change my path and use my skills to do what I like to better my life.”

interactive media and graphic design degree

Interactive Media and Graphic Design Student Tabatha Nentl

That path led her directly to Minnesota School of Business St. Cloud to study in the interactive media and graphic design program(IMGD).

“I have always been good at art and am not afraid to try new media,” Tabatha says. “I wanted to go into something that I would be able to take to that next level.” She adds, “I also wanted to go into IMGD because being creative brings out the best in me, and that’s what I want to give the world.”

Her first term back in college after 20-plus years was not without its challenges, however. Blending schoolwork with parenting and home life was especially difficult, but Tabatha found a way to make the best of it.

“I was able to use helping [my son] with his homework to refresh what I was learning myself.” She also took the opportunity to model good study and time management habits for him.

Being a non-traditional student, Tabatha gained insights in her classes that others may have missed. For example, she says one teacher told the class, “This is college and A’s are not just handed out; you have to work for them.”

Tabatha felt “this was not news to me, I will work hard no matter what,” but, she said, “others were amazed by this and that surprised me.”

She also understood the connection between foundations courses as a first-term student and graphic design core classes in her field of study.

She reflects, “I believe the balance of core classes to draw me into IMGD along with the mandatory classes was by design. I didn’t become overwhelmed with the fundamentals that had until this point scared me about college.”

Tabatha understands that classwork is clearly connected to her future goals. “Whether it is writing papers to present my design to clients, using math to decide the dimensions I want to display my design on, or knowing how my career would be useful to help a cause in my community . . .” she sees how “everything ties together in the end.”

Looking forward to the New Year, Tabatha is excited. “I now know I can be successful in school,” she says, “[and] I am excited to find out what new things I can learn this next quarter. I look forward to learning more about what I can do with my training.”


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