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Bethany Ensminger

Last year, Bethany Ensminger, decided it was time to expand her knowledge—and her career. She was comfortable and doing well in her clerical position with Walz Chevrolet Buick GMC, but she had always had an aptitude for numbers, and when she heard about Southeast Technical’s online accounting program, she decided to investigate.Ensminger

“Online learning,” says Bethany, “is the only thing that would work with my schedule since I work full-time at Walz.” People told her that it would be hard, and she admits that it is probably a little more challenging at times than the traditional classroom, but she has found that by planning ahead, setting a schedule, and sticking to it, success may be achieved. And she is indeed successful, maintaining an extremely high GPA while meeting the demands of full-time employment. In order to fit everything in, Bethany spends about 4 hours online each evening after work attending to her studies. In addition to this, when the need arises, she even makes use of her lunch break to stay caught up with her assignments.

Bethany’s instructor and advisor, Jill Halverson, says of her, “She is a perfect candidate for online learning as she plans ahead and asks lots of questions.” Bethany reminds herself to not be self-conscious about asking questions. “If I am wondering about something, there is a good chance that someone else is too. Maybe I can help them find the answer as well.” In addition to tracking down answers to questions, Bethany also offers her assistance, through online discussion, to other students who might be struggling in her classes. In these types of encounters, there can sometimes emerge a surprising sense of “community” even in the virtual learning environment.

Accounting instructor Tony Fritz comments on how dramatically things have changed for online learners and instructors in the last few years. “We now have a wide variety of tools to deliver and monitor progress in online courses. The publishers have really invested in e-learning applications that accompany their text books as they realize the increased market potential for online education. All of these tools make it easier for us to deliver the same high quality content in an online accounting course that you would get in the class room.”

Based on the increased interest in online learning and the popularity of the accounting program, the department found it was essential to include an additional online section of Principles of Accounting I, the program’s first accounting course. The popularity of the program might be explained in part by the increased demand for accountants. In fact, a recent article from CareerBuilder.com identifies accounting as having the hottest job prospects among all associate degree programs.

In Bethany’s case, the timing is especially good. Recently it was announced that Dahl Automotive has acquired Walz Chevrolet Buick GMC, and she has accepted the position of Administrative Support within the new (and larger) organizational structure. Like Walz, Dahl has pledged to be supportive of Bethany in her continuing education. She is rightfully excited about her future there. “My hope,” she says, “is that once I have my degree, I can take on more responsibilities and grow with the business.” Fritz and Halverson agree that knowing Bethany and the quality of our online accounting degree, we expect she’ll do just that.