Northeast employees shift into reverse to complete degrees

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by jamesc  5/26/2017 8:05:20 AM -- 

NORFOLK, NE - Obtaining a college degree is a milestone in anyone’s life, and Northeast Community College offers a process for its former students, whether they hold an advanced degree or have never earned a degree, to earn an associate degree from Northeast. The College encourages students who attended the institution, but left before graduation to attend a four-year college or university, to consider completing an associate degree by transferring credits back to Northeast.

Some of these students eventually gained a bachelor’s degree through a combination of credits from both institutions but did not earn their associate degree from Northeast. A simple request to have credits transferred from the four-year college or university to Northeast could provide the needed classes to complete the degree.

The reverse transfer initiative was implemented in 2014 through a partnership with the University of Nebraska and Nebraska State College systems and Nebraska’s community colleges to assist qualified students to complete associate degrees. Students’ additional coursework and other community college requirements are evaluated to determine if they qualify to complete an associate degree.

Lori Vanderheiden, dean of enrollment management at Northeast, said holding a degree can be a considerable advantage when applying for employment.

“Northeast wants to be able to help with a student’s degree completion. It is important for students to have some type of degree accomplishment, and it’s also important for employers to see some type of degree award.”

Reverse transfer can also be helpful to those who are already established in their careers, but are considering expanding their skills into a new field.

Elizabeth Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with math and English emphases. Johnson, employed by Northeast as an advisor, said she had been taking classes, such as personal finance and world history, at the College for personal enrichment for several years.

In fact, Johnson said it was in her personal finance class where she started to develop an interest in business.  

She chose to use the reverse transfer process to earn an associate of arts degree in business administration from Northeast, and today, she is enrolled in an online master of business administration (MBA) program at a four-year institution.

“It took a little while to get back into the swing of being in school, so I’m glad I had the time and the undergraduate credits to prepare me for the graduate level.”

Johnson started her associate degree at Northeast in spring 2016, taking approximately two classes, including accounting, economics, and others, per semester. Through the reverse transfer process, she was able to use credits from her previous bachelor’s degree, as well as her prior coursework at Northeast, to fulfill the degree’s general education requirements. She graduated from Northeast in December 2016.

Johnson said that while her MBA program, which she began this spring, did not require undergraduate coursework in business, it did require an entrance examination.

“Taking the Northeast courses helped me pass the exam and get started in school. In my graduate classes, I was like, ‘Oh, I actually remember studying that at Northeast.’”

Nancy Schultz, director of adult education at Northeast, has an experience similar to Johnson’s in that she took classes at Northeast to prepare for an MBA program.

“When I went for my MBA, I had no business background,” said Schultz, who holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology. “So I took a lot of pre-requisites for the graduate classes here at Northeast.”

Schultz earned 38 credits at Northeast spread out over six years. The reverse transfer process allowed her to use credits from her bachelor’s degree, as well as her master’s program, to earn an associate degree.

Schultz said she chose to earn her degree to mark her thirtieth year of being employed at Northeast.

“I’m very pleased to be an alum in addition to being an employee. Northeast is an excellent educational provider.”

Schultz’s advice for those interested in the reverse transfer process is simple: “If you have the credits, use them. Go for the reverse transfer.”

Johnson echoed Schultz’s advice. “Just start asking the questions. If you have an idea of what you want to do, and you’ve never earned a degree in that field, just contact Northeast with your questions. Asking questions means no commitment at all, and it gives you the information to make the best decision.”

To learn more about the Northeast Community College reverse transfer process, contact Lisa Reifenrath, director of advising services, at (402) 844-7269 or by email at






Northeast Community College advisor Elizabeth Johnson (right) serves as processional leader at the College’s 44th commencement ceremony recently. Through the Northeast’s reverse transfer process, Johnson, who holds a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution, was able to earn an associate of arts degree in business administration that helped prepare her for her master in business administration program. She also received her diploma during the ceremony.




Nancy Schultz, director of adult education at Northeast Community College, meets with co-workers in her office on the Norfolk campus recently. Through the College’s reverse transfer process, Schultz earned an associate degree from Northeast, after earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.



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