Nicole and Tanya Babich

‘Special Coincidence’ has Laona, Wis. Mother and Daughter Both Earning Degrees on Same Day

Growth of Online Programs for Both Traditional and Adult Students Makes for a New Kind of College Experience

Tanya Babich began her University of Wisconsin-Green Bay college career in the Summer of 2013 as an online student. Daughter Nicole Babich enrolled in her first
UW-Green Bay course in Summer 2014, taking online courses for a few semesters while simultaneously completing her Associate’s Degree at Nicolet Area Technical College.

Tanya is graduating today with a degree in Applied Studies (major: Integrative Leadership Studies); Nicole with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Psychology. Tanya has stepped on campus only a handful of times to visit her daughter (not to attend classes); Nicole arrived on campus in Spring 2016, experiencing campus life to the fullest in the semester she spent as an on-campus resident.

Their experiences, while different than what most people think of as a traditional college reality, are becoming more prevalent as delivery of higher education is going the way of the digital age. It’s also presented a special circumstance in that mother and daughter are surprisingly-and happily-graduating on the same day on May 14.

When asked questions about their shared college adventure (via an e-mail interview, of course), both Tanya and Nicole had a lot to share.

Tanya Babich (Mother)

UW-Green Bay Career Began: Summer 2013
Degree: Bachelor of Applied Studies Degree
Major: Integrative Leadership Studies

Your path to UW-Green Bay:

I attended Nicolet Area Technical College where I earned my Associate’s Degree. I’ve also taken courses from UW-Platteville and NWTC.

Why did you choose UWGB?

UWGB willingly accepted all of my credits from Nicolet Area Technical College.

Q: How would you describe your UWGB experience?

TB: My experience at UWGB has been great. The professors are helpful and prompt. D2L is user friendly and the library system is amazing.

Q: It’s pretty unique that both you and your daughter are graduating on the same day. Was that a part of your master plan or did things just work out that way?

TB: We knew our graduation dates would be close, but it was mostly by chance. I only took one to two courses a semester, and Nicole finished her Bachelor’s Degree in three years instead of four. Had we done anything differently, we may have graduated college at the same time my youngest daughter graduated from high school. Either way, it’s a special coincidence.

Q: How did it feel to have your daughter going through the same experience at the same time?

TB: We provided a much needed support system for each other. It was an honor to share the experience with her. We learned from each other and pushed each other to excel in our classes.

Q: Did you ever run into each other or meet up on campus?

TB: I am an online student so I was never on campus unless I was visiting her.

Q: Did you ever study together?

TB: We would help each other proofread papers.

Q: Did you ever take any of the same classes, either at the same time or in different semesters?

TB: Both of us minored in Human Development, so a few of our courses were the same. We completed Infancy and Early Childhood a semester apart, but with different professors. We did take one course together, Middle Childhood and Adolescence, in the Summer 2015 Semester; we shared a textbook.

Q: Did you ever have the same professors, allowing you the opportunity to “compare notes” on their personality, teaching style, etc.

TB: Over the years I believe we have shared two or three professors, but it was for different courses, with the exception of the course we took together. We always share our thoughts on our professors and unique assignments we are able to do.

Q: Did your college paths cross in any unique or surprising ways?

TB: I never met my advisor in person, but Nicole bumped into him at a college fair when she was finishing her Associate’s Degree, also at Nicolet Area Technical College. She recognized his name, so after getting some information about UWGB she asked him about me. He remembered a lot of our email discussions, so they chatted for a few minutes. It was cool to hear her describe him for me.

Q: Did you lean on each other for help and support? Who leaned more? Who supported more?

TB: I leaned on Nicole more than she leaned on me. She proofread my papers for me and helped me understand some algebra concepts that were challenging for me. She is a great teacher and very patient. She realized it had been over 20 years since I have had algebra classes and she explained the processes completely.

Q: How easy was it to turn on/off being Mom to a college student versus being a fellow student to your own daughter?

TB: Nicole and I have always had a close relationship. She is responsible, organized, and determined to succeed. She does not need me to be in the mom role very often. When she does, it is easy for me to shift into that role and provide her with motherly advice. She also understands many issues from my perspective when we talk to each other.

Q: What did people say when they heard you and your daughter were attending the same college at the same time?

TB: Most people say it is awesome and how impressed they are with both of us. Not many people know we are graduating on the same day, including my parents. They think they are attending Nikki’s graduation; I cannot wait to surprise them.

Q: What’s in store for life after college for you?

A: I am currently employed at CoVantage Credit Union and I enjoy my work immensely. I don’t plan to make any big changes. I will have more down time to spend outside and pick up a few hobbies once I’m done with all my coursework, though. I also plan to spend more time with both of my daughters and continue to guide them through their educational journeys.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory (or 2) about your time at UWGB?

A: I did visit my daughter a couple of times and she took me through the library. It was unbelievable. I love to read and I was amazed at the size of the library. I was snap chatting the library to all of my friends. I would have loved to have spent more time there.

Q: What will you miss the most?

A: I will miss the interesting books I have been reading for my classes.

Q: What won’t you miss?

A: I will happily say goodbye to discussion boards.

Q: Do you have any advice for other adults who are considering “going back to school” or getting their degree through an online program?

A: I would encourage anyone that is interested in continuing their education to go for it. It takes time and dedication, but it is worth the effort. The adults that hesitate because they don’t know if they can fit college courses into their schedules need to be encouraged to take one or two courses at a time. It is possible to fit college into a busy life and the knowledge is priceless.

Q: Would you recommend UWGB’s online degree program to other people? Why or why not?

A: I would recommend the online program to other people and I have. It is convenient to learn at home during your spare time, it provides a good example for your children, and earning a degree will help you improve your future as well as your families.

Nicole Babich (Daughter)

UW-Green Bay Career Began: I enrolled in my first UWGB course in the Summer 2014 Semester. I took online courses at UWGB for a few semesters while I was simultaneously completing my Associate’s Degree at Nicolet Area Technical College (NTC). Spring 2016 was my first semester on the GB campus, and coincidentally it is also my last semester on campus because I graduate on May 14!
Degree: Bachelor of Sciences Degree
Major: Psychology

Q: Your path to college:

NB: I earned an Associate of Arts from Nicolet Area Technical College and I completed a course at NTC during high school.

Q: Why did you choose UWGB?

NB: A few reasons come to mind: my credits transferred easily, I was more familiar with the area than any other UW college, my grandmother and aunt both graduated from UWGB, and my mom was having a great experience so far when I chose to enroll.

Q: How would you describe your UWGB experience?

NB: My short time with UWGB was a blast. I’m not sad that I only had one semester of the campus life and experience. I actually feel like it was better for me to spend my final semester soaking everything in. I had a wonderful internship with Transformation House this spring and I know I’m going to miss the staff and residents. Even before I “arrived” on campus, my experience was great. Being able to take online courses helped my educational career move forward faster, to suit me best. My professors took a genuine interest in my education, making recommendations for other courses or projects and offering positive feedback. One of my online professors nominated me for a University Award, which I will receive this Friday; it goes to show how supportive the atmosphere at UWGB is.

Q: It’s pretty unique that both you and your mother are graduating on the same day. Was that a part of your master plan or did things just work out that way?

NB: When our required course lists started dwindling down, we both thought we would graduate next spring with my sister, who is graduating from high school. However, I enrolled in an Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate Program last summer from UW-Superior that knocked out quite a few elective requirements. I’ve always taken 15 or more credits a semester as well, so I was able to graduate a year early. Meanwhile, my mom took a few more courses than she normally would in a semester and it just panned out this way. She wouldn’t have participated in the graduation ceremony for herself, but because I’m graduating too she’s doing it for both of us.

Q: How did it feel to have your mom going through the same experience at the same time?

NB: My mom has been taking one to two courses a semester for a very long time. When I enrolled as a college student it didn’t feel like anything changed. The homework never ceased for either of us. It was great to have someone who went through a lot of the same procedures, though. She shared a lot of advice about transferring my credits and saved me the headache of having to “retake” courses. It would have been much more difficult without her.

Q: Did you ever run into each other/meet up on campus?

NB: I gave her the first and only tour of UWGB she ever had this spring. She only takes online courses so she only made it to campus to visit me. I had a lot of fun showing her where I spent my time, and it was cool for her to see where she had been attending college for so long.

Q: Did you ever study together?

NB: We edit a lot of each other’s homework. Sometimes it feels like we were taking each other’s courses after reading all of the material, but we only ever had one course together. We didn’t study together because we shared a book; I would finish my work while she was at her job, and she would finish hers when she came home.

Q: Did you ever take any of the same classes, either at the same time or in different semesters?

NB: We both took Family Development, Infancy and Early Childhood, and Middle Childhood and Adolescence. The latter course we took together in Summer 2015. We promised not to comment on each other’s discussion posts because we would essentially be talking about one another in the life examples. Our professors probably guessed that we were mother and daughter, but we tried to keep our classmates from reacting to it; more comments on a discussion board only meant more responses and work from us.

Q: Did you ever have the same professors, allowing you the opportunity to “compare notes” on their personality, teaching style, etc.

NB: We had maybe two or three shared professors, but not always for the same courses. We would talk about the professors and assignments we especially liked, but for similar courses we discussed how professors modified the coursework. In one case she had triple the work I did because I took an Interim course and she took a regular semester course.

Q: Did your college paths cross in any unique or surprising ways?

NB: I ran into her advisor at a transfer fair. She never met him in person, but she liked hearing about him from me.

Q: Did you lean on each other for help and support? Who leaned more? Who supported more?

NB: We always support each other. She helped me with some questions about transferring credits. I helped her by editing her papers. My parents supported me financially so I could focus on my coursework and my job as a student. I would take care of on-campus business for my mom. I think I leaned more, but I’m sure my mom would say that she leaned more.

Q: How easy was it to turn on/off being a daughter to your mom versus being a fellow student?

NB: I’ve never thought about it in that light. She is never one or the other; she has been both for as long as I remember. I have a super intelligent mom, not a mothering fellow student. We are very similar people too, so I guess it only feels natural that we would both be college students.

Q: What did people say when they heard you and your Mom were attending the same college at the same time?

NB: Most thought it was awesome. In fact, I wouldn’t be completing this interview unless a UWGB staff member thought it was a phenomenal story. The only weird reaction I ever received is when people would ask me, well what is your mother going to be when she graduates? She has a full-time job at a company she has worked at for years, and a family she will always continue to raise. She is going to be whatever she wants, but she will always be superwoman in my opinion.

Q: What’s in store for life after college for you?

NB: I applied to a graduate program in clinical mental health counseling, and I’m looking into a few other programs for the fall. I’ve also applied for a few positions to simply get the practice and to broaden my own choices.

Q: Do you have a job after graduation?

NB: I will continue to work at a resort I’ve been with for almost three years while I wait to hear back from admission departments and continue applying for positions that open during the summer.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory (or two) about your time at UWGB?

NB: It is difficult to pick a favorite because I crammed so many activities into this semester, and everything I did was great. Harry Potter GB Nites, Palette and Pub, Bingo, Celtic Nights, and Can I Kiss You were my favorite events. My favorite memories though, were going to Half Apps with my friends and finding the secret chapel on campus.

Q: What will you miss the most?

NB: I’m going to miss my first and only roommates from UWGB. Gabby and Larissa really helped me immerse myself into student life and they are great friends.

Q: What won’t you miss?

NB: I won’t miss trying to find a close parking space.

Q: Do you have any advice for other college students who might have a parent who’s considering “going back to school” and will be going through the experience at the same time, like you did?

NB: Ask questions; ask your advisor, your professor, friends you know at the campus, past professors, university staff, ask anyone. Navigating the college experience is a million times easier when you have even the simple or “stupid” questions answered; chances are someone else was confused or curious, too.

Try to learn about the courses beforehand. Three credits in three weeks sounds great, but I see so many returning learners get in over their heads because they don’t know what to expect in a college course. The syllabus will say how many hours are a typical commitment, but doing a little more research will help you enjoy your college career.

Q: Would you recommend UWB to prospective students? Why or why not?

NB: I would definitely recommend UWGB. I love the atmosphere, the sense of community, the campus location, the professors, the course offerings, and the support I received.