That Time I Tried To Go To College. Again.
The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.
A couple years ago I tried to balance a full-time job, a full house, and a full schedule of college classes. In hindsight, I set myself up for failure. One of the hardest lessons life has taught me is that I can not do it all. Not in full force. I have to pick and choose what is important to me. Trim the fat and focus on joy. I’m still learning. The following is an essay I wrote for one of my classes at that time.
Everyone faces diversity and barriers when pursuing their academic career. Barriers are a natural occurrence in every aspect of life, we have to learn to recognize and use them. For me, choosing to attend college as an adult presented me with barriers I may not have considered. The most predominant ones I found stressful would be time management, staying motivating through classes that are difficult and balancing the priorities of school, work and family. While these may not be unique obstacles they are ones I know can make or break me as a student. I was fortunate enough to take a college preparation course last semester which helped me to identify these barriers. During the course, we were taught strategies to work around these and other barriers. I realize now it is just as important to know your weaknesses as it is to know your strengths. A weakness can be turned into a positive attribute if it is identified and managed well.
Of my three barriers the one I find the most challenging of all is time management. I feel I can be a very organized person and my lifestyle really dictates I be that way. I work full-time, go to school full time, run a small side business and have a household of seven. However, the problem I run into is being a perfectionist. For this reason, if I don’t have time to lay out my plans just the way I want them, I will give up on my goals. I have experienced, repeatedly, the consequences of being unprepared and lacking concrete plans. Recently I have gotten better at time management in, what I consider to be, a compartmentalized manner. I have my household planning set up using calendars, menus, daily planners and such. My workload is very organized, making use of a binder and various charts and graphs. I plan to be much more organized with my classes this semester. However, I feel that integrating these areas into a streamlined organization will be difficult.
Another barrier for me this semester, and throughout school, will be to stay motivated even when I do not feel I am doing well or I do not enjoy a class I am taking. I will admit that I struggled through a math class last semester I did eventually fail. I entered the class with a negative attitude and when I knew the class was not working for me I did not make any changes. The instructor did not meet my needs as a student, at the same time though I did not make use of any of the resources this school offered, such as math tutoring. I allowed myself to fail.
My final barrier is learning to balance all my priorities that stem from school, work, and home. I don’t mean this in the same respect as my time management. I have to specifically prioritize the way I use every bit of my time every day, deciding which needs are most important. For example, at six o’clock in the evening I may be pressed to finish a school assignment that is due the next day, but, I need to fix dinner for my family. Family is the higher priority and I need to plan my school work accordingly. I feel that most aspects of my life are equally important to me, with the exception of family. Everything I do is for my family so I must be sure there is no sacrifice in this area.
In conclusion, I feel I have identified my main barriers and ways to overcome them. By explaining them, I understand them better and this has aided in my attempts to address them. I feel confident that this semester will be a very good one for me and I will do well in this class. I understand that I will likely come across more barriers, some may even be more challenging than those I face now. However, I am confident that with the knowledge I have gained and the support system I am blessed with I can overcome anything. I have come to realize that personal barriers are simply learning opportunities when approached with a positive outlook. Sometimes it can be hard, humbling even, to admit to and identify our weaknesses but denial is not a solution. Everyone has them, there is no shame in it. Working around barriers develops character and makes us more well rounded as students and as people.
I haven’t given up on my dreams of receiving a college degree. I am a lifelong student. I thoroughly enjoy learning. I just need to get my kids off to a stable start first. My youngest will be 15 soon and my oldest is on his way out into the real world this Spring…
Until next time, scribe happy…