Susan Rauchs day starts with coffee. She puts out a small coffee bar at Vorderman Volkswagen, where she is the controller. She walks the showroom, greeting employees or any early-bird customers before sitting down to her job, which deals with Vordermans finances.
Rauch, who is nearly 60, has more than 30 years in accounting and has worked at Vorderman for 14 years. The avid reader learned on the job; she doesnt have a college degree.
Rauch is a student at IPFW. She is not getting a business degree or an accounting degree. Nothing in statistics. No, Rauch is working on a degree in general studies, a program of study that allows her to have four minors, all dealing with her various areas of interest: psychology, sociology, religious studies and philosophy. Shes also earning a certificate in gerontology.
Last year, Forbes reported that 60 percent of college degrees go unused – an architecture major cant find employment as an architect, say, or a dance major hasnt become a dance instructor or opened his own studio.
But Rauchs case is a little different: She has a job, and shes going back to school – in a field that is not overtly related to her position.
And thats not exactly common.
I dont meet hardly anybody anymore who gets a degree just for the heck of it, says Sandy McMurtrie, an academic adviser in IPFWs general studies program.
Those who do might be more likely to choose degrees in the fine or liberal arts.
You have aspiring writers who maybe have a book in their head rolling around. They want to maybe know how to do that a little bit better, says McMurtrie, Rauchs adviser. Maybe (those) who have had a hobby-level (interest) in history maybe want to hear more from professional people like tenured professors or study a certain period of history more in depth.
For Rauch, from Fort Wayne, the degree relates back to her loves: her love of people, her passion for religion, her interest in reading. With her gerontology certificate, she hopes to eventually volunteer part time in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. The psychology and sociology minors help with her relationships with co-workers and customers.
Theyre all life skills, she says. Theyre all people skills. I use my skills here, but I dont have any intent of getting a career in anything else.
When Rauch went back to school three years ago, it was in part because of a trip to Barnes & Noble. She likes nonfiction on people issue topics, but she couldnt find anything to strike her fancy on that trip.
A few years earlier, her husband earned his degree in information systems from Indiana Wesleyan University, and he brought it up: Why didnt Rauch go back to school, too?
She had an epiphany, she says: Im going to school.
She is currently a non-degreed accountant, but that course of study didnt interest her; shes been an accountant for years. She could have majored in business, but that didnt sound appealing, either.
She started in psychology because she loves people. Her co-workers tell her they know when shes trying to read people, using what shes learned to help at Vorderman.
Then, a student suggested she transfer to general studies, which appealed to Rauch because she could add more areas of learning – her four minors are the maximum general studies allows. Plus, she knew she would never get a doctorate in psychology, which she would have to do if she wanted to become a psychologist.
Rauch is in no hurry to graduate. She attends classes part time, either on campus or online, and figures she will have her bachelors degree in three more years, at which point, she plans to keep going, perhaps earning a masters degree is psychology or sociology.
I dont want to stagnate. I dont ever want to retire, she says. Its not in my vocabulary.