Monday, April 16, 2012

What we can all learn from adult students

It is Study Tipping Tuesday and since most of you are in the process of revving up for your final exams, I figured today would be a good opportunity to help you discover some motivation sitting right next to you in your classes. Because sometimes studying is as simple as being motivated to work hard.

And nothing says hard work like the adult students in your classes.

I’ll use the term “adult student” loosely (as most of you I consider adults), but for the sake of this post, I'm talking about the students who are returning to college after a few years (e.g. not coming straight out of high school).

Fifteen percent of community college students are 40 years old or older. The average age of community college students fluctuates between 28 and 29 years old.

Going back to school in a later stage of life requires a lot out of hard work, sacrifice, and diligence. I am constantly inspired by these people, and I think you will be too.
I have met returning students who are single-mothers, parents, full-time employees, laid-off workers, those contemplating career changes, those ready to try college again after struggling the first time, and military veterans who have served in combat.

I have seen friends attend a club meeting between classes and then have to run home to pick up their children from school.

I have met students who work from daybreak to noon at their jobs before heading to school, then going back home to a family at night. 

And the thing is – you have seen them too. Every day at your college. And those stories aren’t exceptions or special cases – they are everyday stories.

And they are stories we can all learn from. Some of the many things adult students can teach us include:
  • The pursuit of goal doesn’t have a time limit. Completion is what matters. Life will twist and turn ahead of your future. The reality is that anything we think is worth pursuing will require us to keep pursuing it, regardless of the timing in our lives. Today is always a good time to start, regardless of your age or circumstance.
  • As busy as your life might feel, the student who works, has a family, and still finds time to get involved on their campus – well…they are busier. And that should light a fire inside of you.
  • Social bravery is one of the most admirable characteristics to possess. I think it is tough to put yourself out there – in any situation. And when I see adult students step up and get involved in their college I am reminded of their social bravery. It will serve them well in life, and it will serve you well too. 
  • Connecting with people from all walks of life is one of the most powerful things in life. Post-college life requires us to interact with people of all ages. And successful people are often those who are able to positively respect, interact with, and support people no matter what their age or background.
So when you're feeling stressed during exam time and don't know how you are going to manage it all, remember that there is often someone who is doing more. There is often someone you can learn from to help you get through the difficult times. And sometimes, you will be that someone for somebody else.

So appreciate this stage of life, no matter what your age, and continue to push forward to reach your educational goals, remembering that your hard work and dedication will pay off.

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