A person works on a computer in a classroom.
BGSU construction management major Ben Kott recognized the value of a degree in higher education after a semester away. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

Going back to college: Why this BGSU student decided to re-enroll

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After a semester away, Ben Kott returned to BGSU committed to earning a degree in construction management

By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07

Ben Kott arrived at Bowling Green State University in the Fall 2022 semester, eager to begin his journey to become a physical therapist. As the semester progressed, Kott said his enthusiasm began to wane.

“I didn’t know if college was for me or if physical therapy was what I wanted to do,” Kott said.

After questioning whether or not to stay in school, Kott ultimately decided to move home in January 2023 — one semester into his college journey.

Kott went to work at his family’s brake factory in Lodi, Ohio, east of Akron, and a few months later, rejoined a plumbing company with which he had worked throughout high school.

“I had always worked in the trades growing up,” Kott said. “All I knew was that I liked working with my hands, especially in blue-collar jobs. I needed some time to figure out what I really wanted to do.”

Kott said the experience of being back in the trades reaffirmed his love of working with his hands. It also helped him recognize the benefits that a degree in higher education could have on his future, both financially and in career opportunities.

"I realized that not going back to college would ultimately make it harder for me down the road," he said. "I want to have the opportunity to advance in my field, and a BGSU degree is going to provide me with the best option to do that."

The average bachelor’s degree graduate from BGSU earns an additional $28,600 each year compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Ohio, according to an economic impact study from LIghtcast. Over a working lifetime, that amounts to $1.2 million in higher earnings per graduate.

Finding a path forward

Kott returned to BGSU in Fall 2023 and changed his major to construction management, a degree he said better aligned with his interests.

The industry-regarded BGSU construction management degree in the School of the Built Environment equips students with the high-level skills needed for the ever-evolving demands and technologies in the construction industry.

The newly founded School of the Built Environment is the only one of its kind in Ohio where architecture and construction management students learn in a collaborative environment, mirroring how the two professions work together in the industry. 

In addition to a unique learning environment, students complete three paid co-ops that provide essential real-world experience. The University’s co-op program is one of just three nationally recognized for meeting the gold standard of excellence by the Accreditation and Council for Co-Op and Internship (ACCI).

A person sitting on a desk with computers in the background.
BGSU sophomore Ben Kott aspires to work for a custom homebuilder after earning a degree in construction management. (BGSU photo/Keira Ellenberger)

“With my degree in construction management, I’m hoping to find a career that’s a nice balance of hands-on work and behind-the-scenes work, making sure everything goes smoothly,” Kott said. “I’d like to work for a custom homebuilder. I like the idea of building houses that people are going to live in for the rest of their lives.

“I’m grateful I made the decision to come back to BGSU. I feel much more comfortable with my degree choice and my path forward this time.”

Benefits of a BGSU degree

For BGSU students in situations similar to Kott’s, the University’s highly regarded Life Design program offers resources to help students explore their interests and determine a path forward.

“Many students face uncertainty during their college journey, whether questioning their major or rethinking their future career goals,” said Adrienne Ausdenmoore, assistant vice president and executive director of the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design. “The advantage of the Life Design program is that it’s not tied to a specific major or program. We are fundamentally here for the student and to help them figure out what is important to them and how to help them get where they want to go."

Developed by entrepreneurs and brought to education, Life Design leverages design thinking principles to equip students with the tools to navigate challenges, both in college and throughout their lives. It also empowers them to take advantage of all the opportunities at BGSU to maximize their college experience.

Students can work with Life Design and Career Design coaches who help them navigate college and career and connect them to areas of interest, from student organizations to research opportunities, faculty experts, alumni mentors, internships and more.

“We want students to find their place at BGSU. We want to provide students with more than a degree; we want to empower them to design a future,” Ausdenmoore said.

Since Life Design launched in Fall 2020, it has become a recognizable differentiator of student success at BGSU and has grown to include the Geoffrey H. Radbill Center for College and Life Design and the Michael and Sara Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections.

BGSU is the first university in the country to establish a life design program of this magnitude that is available to all undergraduate students.

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/04/2024 11:36AM