The road to Kettering University isn’t always a straight one. But when Tony Nichol ‘20 arrived on campus he knew it was a perfect fit for him.
Nichol, a Mechanical Engineering major, was a car guy in high school. He liked taking things apart to see how they worked. He even built a Camaro.
But he was having trouble finding others who shared his passion. A visit to Kettering made him feel right at home. He saw students helping each other in the garage and working on their cars on campus.
“To me it was very clear that Kettering was a good choice. I knew I would fit in at Kettering,” Nichol said. “A Kettering degree means more than a degree from most other colleges or universities. The two years of experience puts you ahead of the game big time.”
His journey to Kettering was a nontraditional one. But when the decision was made that Kettering is where he needed to be to succeed, he was able to apply in December 2015 and start classes in January 2016.
“Kettering University prides itself on having a quick turnaround time for applications. We have four start dates each year - July, October, January and April,” said Kip Darcy, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Enrollment. “Students graduating high school in December have an opportunity to start at Kettering in January. It’s a great opportunity for students interested in STEM to get started right away.”
Nichol was pleasantly surprised to get into Kettering so quickly.
“It was a quick turnaround. I was doubtful. But the staff at Kettering worked with me and made it work,” he said. “I needed a good change of scenery.”
Nichol was beginning to get burned out at school. He was anxious to get into the working world, but he knew he first needed a college education. When he was a sophomore in high school, he decided to enroll in an early college program where he would start taking classes at the local university while getting high school and college credits at the same time.
It was a way to help him get ready for college and earn college credits. But there was still something missing for Nichol.
“I was ready to work and start making money. I was doing great in my classes but I was getting very distracted during my last term. My classes seemed meaningless,” Nichol said. “Then someone told me about Kettering and their co-op program. I figured that was something I could actually do. Three months going to school and three months off working and making money.”
With the early college program, Nichol’s high school career was technically five years, because he had two years in high school before he started the three year program at Eastern Michigan University. But with one semester left, Nichol knew he needed a different challenge.
A month after talking with an admissions representative, Nichol was getting ready to come to Kettering. And with the transfer he was able to bring 16 credits with him.
“While at my co-op I’m getting paid top dollar. I’m also not just doing landscaping in between terms. I’m at a real job, a career,” Nichol said. “Attending Kettering also allowed me to figure what I want to do with my major while I’m taking classes instead of getting the degree and then figuring out I don’t like it. Those were the biggest selling points for me.
“I’ve never studied harder than when I came here, but it’s all starting to pay off.”
Nichol has always been interested in how engines and cars work and come apart. When he got a little guidance while in high school, his passion for it grew.
He knows now Kettering was a good fit for him especially with so many other students at the university willing to learn together and help out with projects. In his downtime, Nichol can be found tinkering around in the SAE garage.
Since coming to Kettering, Nichol has joined the SAE Baja team and began pledging the Sigma Chi fraternity.
“At Kettering the Greek life is different. The fraternities here are a support system. Everybody sets aside time to help everyone else,” he said. “We are learning from each other. It’s more like a community with everyone rooting you on.”
Nichol has been at Kettering less than a year so far, but he’s already taken away many good life lessons.
At Kettering, Nichol gained a new sense of maturity and responsibility.
“Just being in these classes has taught me a lot of maturity. I realized quickly when I needed help with a class or subject. And I wasn’t afraid to go get tutoring or ask for help,” Nichol said. “It’s a lot of work and it gets hard but it all pays off in the end. Hard work pays off and a degree from Kettering University is all worth it in the end.”