Troy Marinkovic’s initial college journey didn’t play out according to plan. He never intended to withdraw from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as evidenced by his academic accomplishments and the pride he took in graduating third in his high school class. However, life got in the way.
“I went through some growing pains. My dad had a massive heart attack that summer and a triple bypass surgery,” said Marinkovic. “I went to therapy and was diagnosed with an adjustment order. I had a lot of anxiety about everything every day. I was stressed by the fact that I was existing on my own.”
Living in an off-campus apartment didn’t help. He never found out about campus resources, which made it more difficult for him to manage his academic tasks and responsibilities.
“I’m a first-generation college student, so I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “Having the amount of freedom I had and not having anyone to keep me in line was hard. I stopped going to a class and once I skipped one, I skipped two and the next thing I knew I was two weeks behind.”
Degree gives former Badger a second chance
Encouragement from his now-wife motivated Marinkovic to return to his education. Following the completion of his associate degree at Madison College, he enrolled with UW–Madison Online as a reentry student working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration–marketing.
The program provides a robust foundation in business. From the highly ranked Wisconsin School of Business, students gain valuable skills in communication, collaboration, creativity, relationship building and planning.
“When I was reapplying or applying as a reentry student to UW–Madison, I was worried that one mistake had kind of thrown that opportunity away for me. I was worried that the ship had sailed,” he said. “UW–Madison Online was the education that I wanted and needed without having to put my life on pause and live off student loans.”
The flexibility of UW–Madison Online has also been critical to Marinkovic in balancing home and financial responsibilities, a full-time job and school.
“There will be days where it sucks, but it won’t feel like your life is constrained by school. It will feel like school has opened your life,” he said. “I was very concerned about being an online student full time and being in person at work full time, but the flexibility has been tremendous. I never have to worry about one or the other.”
UW–Madison Online shapes the future
The courses offered through the UW–Madison online business program also helped shape Marinkovic’s career trajectory. Thanks to a business law course, Marinkovic will take the next step in his education by applying to law school after graduation.
“It’s one of those things where you grow up your whole life and someone’s like, ‘You should do this. You should do that.’” he said. “For me, it was you should be a lawyer, so it was something that was always in the back of my head.”
Marinkovic highlighted that one of the most valuable aspects of pursuing his education through UW–Madison Online is the strong support system provided by the Badger community and the extensive national network of alumni.
“Being a Badger does become part of your identity and has a far-reaching national and global reach with the diaspora of the alumni,” he said.
The expansion of online programs has opened a new world of educational opportunities for all sorts of lifelong learners, including giving a former Badger a second chance, and Marinkovic appreciates that esteemed universities like UW–Madison put effort into their online degrees.
“There’s never been a better time to be a lifelong learner or a returning student,” he said. “It opens a lot of doors for a lot of different people, and I’m very grateful that it opened that door for me. I’m interested to see how many doors it can open up for other people.”
Read more about finishing your business degree online in The Ultimate Guide to Online Business Degrees.