When it comes to receiving an education in unconventional ways, I’d like to say that I am an expert. I received my bachelor’s degree as a continuing education student when I was 34 years old. I moved directly into the MBA program at Johnson & Wales University, all while working full time, managing family and social life, and trying to find time for myself. So when you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and ready to throw in the towel, know that you are not the only one.
Everyone’s experience as a student is different. The needs and expectations of an adult student are particularly unique. We are not here right out of high school. We can say with confidence that we considered all of our options and decided that higher education would be best for us, despite the challenges.
So what keeps us going? There were many reasons that brought me (sometimes reluctantly) to the next class. Here are my top four.
1. Keep your eye on the prize.
One reason, in particular, keeps me going even now as I chug along towards my MBA. It is in knowing that all of the hard work, sleepless nights, and cramming for exams is worth it! Whether or not achieving an MBA will increase my worth—which I’m confident it will—my personal goal to “get it done” has trumped that. Each course I complete brings a feeling of great satisfaction.
2. Surround yourself with “cheerleaders.”
The support of family and friends has also helped. Although I’m pretty sure that they don’t always “get it,” they respect my need to be a hermit sometimes so I can study or write a paper, and they know that bettering myself is more important right now than hanging out. Although sometimes I would rather be having fun, I have to remember my priorities.
3. Ask for support from classmates.
It’s always nice to know that you’re not alone, so connecting with peers has been a pivotal key to success thus far. It’s important to try to connect on a personal and a professional level. It has been so helpful to be able to talk with other students who are experiencing the same successes, situations, and potential road blocks. We help each other through it and cheer each other on.
4. Get some perspective.
Lastly, I often get overwhelmed with all that is happening in life. Sometimes it’s about stepping back for a minute. Sit down, think about what is important, and work out your priorities. For me, school is always up there at the top … and it always wins.
If frustration gets the better of you sometimes, remember that you are not alone. No matter what your reason is for continuing your education, it is all about you, your goals, and your betterment. Don’t give up. It will be worth it.