Kids aren’t the only ones heading back to school these days. More than ever, adults are also heading back to the classroom. Adults usually have a variety of reasons for wanting to further their education which include increasing their income, strengthening job security, or switching careers. Some want to become better educated, more informed people with broader horizons. Others, like me, need a change.
I decided to finish my bachelor’s degree in American Studies two years ago not long after having a kidney transplant. I wanted to make the most of my renewed health and pursue my goal of becoming a writer, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the workload of wife, mom, and small business owner would take over my life again. I had to shake things up.
Even when the desire to achieve a goal is strong, negative thoughts can creep into our heads. These are some of the thoughts that keep us from pursuing our dreams and some of the ways we can keep them at bay:
- I don’t have time. As adults, we’re always going to be busy. There’re many, many tasks, duties, and goals competing for our time and attention. We can’t do everything all the time, so we have to prioritize. Some tasks will have to be saved for holiday or summer breaks. Delegate. Let go. Fitting homework into our schedule will require resourcefulness: 1. Get up early or go to bed late. (For me, it’s both). 2. Hide at lunch hour. 3. Use the time while waiting in a doctor’s office or other appointment or at soccer (baseball, football, gymnastics) practice. 4. Say no to activities that aren’t that important. 5. Minimize T.V.
If possible, try to find a program that caters to adult learners. I’m part of Eckerd College’s Program for Experienced Learners (PEL). Among other perks, the classes meet at times that work for working adults.
- It’ll be hard. Yes, it will be hard. But it’ll get easier. Remember, you’ve done hard things before and you’ve come through it. You will this time too.
- 3. I don’t have the skill set (a.k.a. I’m too old; I don’t want to look stupid; I’m not good with computers, math, writing, etc.). Again, it boils down to acknowledging the truth of the matter. Maybe you do need help or need to brush up in certain areas. If that’s the case, there are resources out there. More than likely, the school you enroll at will have plenty of help available. I definitely needed help with my computer skills. All three of my daughters were happy to lend a hand. It was a new kind of bonding.
No matter who we are or how old we are, there’s always a little apprehension when we set out to achieve new goals. But what’s the alternative? Running away. Stagnating. “Turning into mildew”—as my friend Patti would say. In the movie World War Z, Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, encourages a host who shelters Lane’s family to escape with them. “Movement is Life” he tells the man. (The Israeli physicist, Moshe Feldenkrais, is the true originator of this quote). The man decides to stay put and soon becomes a zombie. Life is too short to become a zombie. Go for it—go back to school! Follow your dreams!!
Let me know in the comments below what has helped you overcome any negative thoughts you’ve had about going back to school. What are your thoughts about pursuing further education as an adult? What are some obstacles you’ve discovered?
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