Jennifer Palmer earned her Business Management associate degree through Accelerated Lifelong Learning (ALL) at Nashua Community College – a program tailored for working adults who want to balance full-time work with full-time college.
“I’ve started and stopped my educational journey many times, and when the pandemic happened, I no longer had to spend four hours a day commuting into Cambridge for work since everything was shut down. I saw this program and thought it was a great opportunity to carry on my education,” said Jennifer, a 52-year-old working professional and single mom from Nashua. She continued working remotely, and was able to move through her degree quickly by using previous credits, and sticking with the ALL schedule of two condensed classes every eight weeks.
Jennifer emphasized the importance of staying focused, and following the class and study schedule recommended by the ALL team. “The most challenging part was staying disciplined. Making sure you carve out those hours for your homework and stick with it. For me, nights and weekends were homework, and you can’t slack off on it. It is a serious commitment. You get out of it what you put into it, and now I can apply this to my job.”
The hard work paid off, and Jennifer was able to fit a complete associate degree in two years without sacrificing her career. “The most helpful was that I was able to take 2 classes at a time, and progress through it while going to work and trying to balance everything. I was able to do it in two years versus four years; it was encouraging.”
The faculty provided helpful mentorship along the way, she said, “I found that the professors were very encouraging, and very supportive of our learning. You know how there’s that one person who motivates you and encourages you from beginning to end? Professor [Tricia] DiLorenzo was that person, she is an outstanding professor.”
Jennifer graduated from Nashua Community College in May 2022, cheered on by her son and family. “It was a long time in the making. Next, I’m looking at January to start at UNH. I’ll be continuing with business, it is very helpful in my current role at work.”
Regarding the experience of completing a degree after 50, she said, “I think there’s something to be said for taking classes later in life because you can take what you have learned and apply it directly. I found the whole experience challenging but rewarding.”
Career and Technical Education Pathways Director Kim Eckenrode advises ALL students, and cheered Jennifer on from the sidelines. “When I first met Jen she told me she has always wanted a degree,” said Kim. “She was so determined, Jen scheduled a meeting with her supervisor to let them know her plans and on class nights ending the work day on time was a priority.”
ALL offers condensed associate degree pathways in Business Administration: Management, Business Administration: Small Business Entrepreneurship, and Psychology. ALL also has 8 condensed certificate pathways: Data Analytics, Addiction Recovery Support Worker, Early Childhood Education Lead Teacher, Accounting I, Human Services, Paralegal, Spreadsheet, and Small Business Management.
Students enroll in back-to-back, accelerated courses to complete an associate degree in 20 months or a certificate in 10 months. With qualifying prior credits, learning or work experience; the program can be completed even faster. ALL’s structured schedule allows students to plan and know what to expect for class time and homework each week. Courses are online and hybrid (face-to-face and online learning) including evenings and/or Saturday courses.