Community college transfer student proud to be a business Badger

Dan Barry sitting on a bench inside the Memorial Union with his laptop and backpack, looking on his phone

Growing up in Wisconsin, Dan Barry always respected the state’s flagship university. After a circuitous journey through several states, and with the goal of career advancement, he ended up at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a returning adult student and community college transfer student nearly 20 years after he graduated from high school.

With two decades of experience in real estate, Barry started in spring 2022 in the UW–Madison Online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business Administration–Management program, one of the UW–Madison fully online bachelor’s degrees currently available.

“Badgers are very highly respected, especially business Badgers in the business world,” Barry says. “Look at some of the statistics, the number of CEOs that have come out of UW–Madison. It just tells you that if that’s what you want, this is the school for it. It’s kind of awesome to officially say I’m a Badger.”

Community college transfer partnership

Starting at Madison Area Technical College in 2003, Barry played soccer and focused on a real estate degree program. After a semester, he transferred to UW–Whitewater at Rock County before deciding to return to Madison College.

headshot of Dan Barry
Dan Barry

But he got a job in Madison, too, and quickly moved up the ladder, getting valuable experience at real estate companies, particularly in campus housing. His schooling came to a halt, and his career excelled as he moved to Philadelphia, then Buffalo, to work in campus real estate.

Barry, his wife and their young daughter moved back to Madison in 2015, and he revisited his associate degree while working. They had another daughter three years later. With his daughters now ages 14 and 4, he’s in the midst of raising a family, shaping a successful career and acquiring his bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of folks in senior positions in my company hold a bachelor’s degree and many more hold a master’s degree,” he says. “In my portfolio of properties, many are on college campuses, and I work directly with directors for enrollment and sometimes presidents of universities. At one point it struck me that I have the experience, I have accomplished things, but it would be nice to have the degree.”

A transfer from Madison College to UW–Madison Online was his ticket. In March 2022, Madison College and UW–Madison signed transfer agreements that allow Madison College students studying liberal arts or business management to have a direct path to complete a bachelor’s degree from the Wisconsin School of Business with UW–Madison Online.

Barry pursued an associate degree in liberal arts-economics and pre-business before gaining direct admission to UW–Madison Online to continue his education.

“The transfer experience from Madison College to UW–Madison was excellent,” says Barry. “It was very easy and straightforward, with consistent communication from my enrollment coaches, who were quick to respond or set up virtual meetings to answer any questions I had.”

Madison College students in liberal arts-economics and pre-business or in business management must complete a declaration of intent with a Madison College advisor, meet specified levels of academic achievement at Madison College and meet requirements for admission to UW–Madison to be directly admitted into a UW–Madison Online business degree program.

Delicate balance of work, school, life

“My experience as a UW–Madison Online student has been very positive so far,” Barry says, adding that he was anxious at first about taking online courses while working full-time, but he’s found a way to make it work well.

As a community college transfer student, he’s been pleased with his professors, fellow students and the curriculum. And he appreciates the ability to use Canvas (the online learning management system used by UW–Madison) on his mobile phone or desktop computer.

“I really treat school like work. I like to have assignments in front of me and get them completed as best as I can and get it across my desk as quickly as possible” he says. “I’ve used a lot that I’ve learned in my work experience to schedule, organize and really be able to focus on schoolwork. The same way I check my calendar on my phone for work commitments, I check for coursework.”

Barry says he’ll average two to three courses per semester. Right now he’s taking courses in managing organizations, personal and professional foundations in business, and women’s literature.

“It’s not easy, and some weeks are harder than others, but I try to navigate the syllabus and course calendar to balance work and life,” he says, adding that he’s an early riser and likes to get up, head to the gym and listen to or watch lectures then use his lunchtime and time after kids go to bed in the evening to do schoolwork.

Advancing a career, setting an example

Barry already had a stellar career prior to his community college transfer.

“Professionally I’ve had a lot of opportunities. I went from a regional manager with six properties and have been promoted twice since arriving in Madison,” Barry says. “Since I started back to school, I’ve been promoted to a senior regional vice president overseeing properties from Boston to Florida and in Madison as well. I now manage 39 properties.”

But he knows there’s even more in store for him as he gains his bachelor’s degree. He’s already using what he’s learned day-to-day at his job.

“My education will help me reach my academic and professional goals,” Barry says. “I look forward to graduating from the [UW–Madison Online] management program and then exploring master’s programs. I hope that my academics will provide future opportunities to advance into a higher-level management or director role.”

In addition to professional benefits, Barry sees benefits to his family: “I think I’m a good example for my oldest daughter now. Her focus on school is a little different. She is saying math is fun, and she’s a tutor in her math course.”

Barry hopes to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in 2025.

For more information on UW–Madison Online, please see The Ultimate Guide to Online Business Degrees and read more about the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Business Administration–Management program or other fully online degrees from UW–Madison Online. Email uwmadison@online.wisc.edu for more information.