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The Best Part About College is Learning to Learn

Brett Cohee didn’t particularly like high school. Although he graduated in 2002 he did not walk with his graduating class because he still had credits to complete for his diploma. He certainly wasn’t interested in pursuing college. Instead, he went to work at a Subway restaurant where he had opportunities for the kind of tangible growth he craved. Subway was opening new stores in the area and he was able to be a part of that growth. He worked hard and began to advance through ‘sweat equity.’ He was promoted to general manager of a store. In time, he became a district manager and part owner.

Instead, he went to work at a Subway restaurant where he had opportunities for the kind of tangible growth he craved.

Things were going well for Cohee until the economic downturn of 2008. The restaurants weren’t making as much money and was expecting his first child. He knew he needed to make more money. Although he had never liked school, he enrolled at North Georgia Technical College, knowing that an education could help him financially in the long run. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to take steps to better myself with a child on the way and the economy not doing well.”

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I knew I needed to take steps to better myself with a child on the way and the economy not doing well.”

His first year back in school since high school was tough. Cohee says he felt he was ‘behind the 8-ball.’ He ended up taking remedial math and other courses just to catch up. He was still working while going to school and didn’t really know what he wanted to study. He thought some business classes would be a good idea but he had no definite plan. Then, his first child, a daughter, was born. Cohee says everything in his life changed after she was born. “I dug in deep and got more serious about applying myself to life.”

“I dug in deep and got more serious about applying myself to life.”

For the first time in his life, Cohee became a dedicated student. He began getting As in his classes. It took him three years to complete the remedial courses at North Georgia Technical College and begin earning college credit. At that point he felt confident enough to move on to a 4-year college but he was worried about all the stories in the news about college students graduating with huge college loan debt. The wife of one of his manager, and owner of the Subway restaurant, worked at Piedmont College and he asked her about the school. Piedmont College was more affordable than he thought it would be and close to home, which would allow him to continue working. He applied and Piedmont accepted his credits from North Georgia Technical College. In addition, they offered him a Neighborhood Grant for people who return to college later in life to better their lives. In spite of his success at North Georgia Technical College he was nervous about starting school at Piedmont. He imagined college classes would be huge with lots of students and hands-off professors. But the classes at Piedmont weren’t huge and he had lots of good professors who engaged everyone in their classes. His very first class at Piedmont was an accounting course taught by Walter Keel, who turned out to be his favorite professor. “In his classes I learned a lot about learning.”

“In his classes I learned a lot about learning.”

Keel became Cohee’s advisor and helped him determine that he wanted to study finance. “Piedmont met me where I was at and taught me discipline because that is what it takes in life to succeed.” He graduated with a 3.8 in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. The man who didn’t get to walk with his high school class graduated at the top of his class at Piedmont College. Lenders were recruiting him before he even graduated and he began working for Edward Jones of Blue Ridge, Georgia before he completed his degree. “One thing I’ve learned through all my college experience, I don’t necessarily use a lot of what I learned in classes in college but I learned the discipline to get things done and concentrate on the task in front of me.”

“One thing I’ve learned through all my college experience, I don’t necessarily use a lot of what I learned in classes in college but I learned the discipline to get things done and concentrate on the task in front of me.”

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