Inspired by the college graduations of her children, Jeffrey and Amanda, Rachel Rentschler returned to school to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in the online program at Northern Kentucky University.
"I've always been interested in criminal justice, and I always wanted to go back to school," she said. "I wasn't able to go to college when I was straight out of high school. Both of my kids graduated from the University of Kentucky, which spurred me on to do it myself. I wanted to do it, so I did it."
Rentschler started at Gateway Community and Technical College and transferred to NKU via the Gateway 2 NKU Program. She graduated summa cum laude in December 2018.
"I did my first two years at Gateway," Rentschler said. "The Gateway 2 NKU Program is set up where all of your classes at Gateway are guaranteed to transfer to NKU. NKU is close and convenient, which is I why I went there.
"It was great to not have a fixed schedule where I had to be somewhere at a certain time. I could go in any time of day and work around any other obligations I had."
Rentschler and her husband, Derreck, run a small bathtub reglazing business, Cincinnati Bath Restoration, which they have owned for 21 years. She spends 10-15 hours per week on school while handling office duties full time.
"I was working out of my home to begin with, so I could continue doing that and my studies at the same time because the bachelor's degree program is online," she said. "I do the administrative part of everything, while my husband goes out into the field and does the work."
Following a Lead
Rentschler had an interest in criminal justice and working with young people long before she enrolled at Gateway in 2014.
"I am a criminal justice major and a social justice minor," she said. "I'm interested in both. They both play off each other in a lot of ways. I'd like to work with juveniles, but I'm pretty open to whatever comes my way. I plan to go to a career fair and other things like that to get information on what careers are out there."
That's not to say that Rentschler isn't being proactive prior to completing the bachelor's degree. She wrapped up an internship at the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice one month before graduation day.
"I started the internship in August. I'm doing a double internship, which is 400 hours. It's been great. I'm learning a lot."
The online BA in Criminal Justice curriculum is also providing Rentschler with valuable insight to lay the foundation for her new career path in law enforcement.
"I really liked the criminal justice and social justice classes," she said. "I especially enjoyed [JUS 204:] Criminal Investigation. I liked the sociology and psychology classes because they give you some insight into why people do things."
Rentschler has used her years of experience running a business to thrive as an online returning student.
"We've been in the business for so long -- my work and the online program are completely unrelated," she said. "It's kind of the other way around. The skills I learned with the business, like managing time and getting in there and doing what needs to be done, definitely helped me with schooling.
"Being online, no one is telling me, 'Do your work. It's time.' You have to set goals and manage your time and your schedule. My job helped me with school. The professors are also very informative and very supportive and challenging."
Especially because Rentschler did not attend her high school graduation ceremony, she was eager graduation day at NKU. Her children got to see her don a cap and gown after she saw them graduate from college and inspired her to enroll.
"This graduation ceremony was for me," she said. "My friends and family were excited, very supportive and proud. My son is now a chemical engineer, while my daughter is a social worker. They both live in Lexington, Kentucky. I am very happy with the degree program at NKU. I believe the degree will open job opportunities for me."
Rentschler, who enjoys reading and camping, hopes to land her first full-time criminal justice job very soon. She believes the online BA in Criminal Justice program at NKU prepared her to achieve her goal of transitioning to a new career and to hit the ground running when she does.
"It's a lot of work," she said. "It's also very challenging. There are some difficult classes, but they are extremely interesting. If you choose to do an online program, it's very flexible. You can maintain your job, take care of your kids, whatever the situation may be. I would definitely recommend NKU."
Learn more about the NKU online BA in Criminal Justice program.
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