By Daniel Gerger, President, Adult Education Advocates
Over the past 15 years I have advised many non-traditional students
and helped them attain bachelor's and master's degrees. Every adult
student who goes back to school has a story to tell. Below is one story
of an adult I had the privilege to help:
Missy had been thinking about going back to school for nearly 25 years. She had enrolled in a community college right out of high school, and had almost completed her associate's degree, but quit when she was just a few credits shy of the degree to get married and start working.
She worked her way up to the position of flight scheduler at a Fortune 500 company, where she makes executive travel arrangements, but she always felt like she had missed out on something without finishing her degree.
Missy was 45 when she made the decision to return to college. She and her husband were visiting family in New Jersey, and the couple was taking a walk past Princeton University. They stood in front of beautiful wrought-iron gates, and she peered at the ivy-covered buildings beyond the gate. Suddenly, she turned to her husband and said, “I’m going to go back and finish my degree."
In one way, the timing was not good. Her husband was undergoing treatment for liver cancer, and their lives revolved around doctor's visits and chemotherapy sessions. In another way, however, the timing couldn't have been better. School became therapeutic for her, offering refuge from the medical offices, the illness, and her work, and it allowed her to focus on something positive.
Missy completed three classes at the local community college to finish her associate’s degree, and then enrolled at a nearby four-year college with a dual-degree accelerated program. This way, Missy was able to finish a bachelor’s degree in communication management and an M.S. in integrated marketing communication in just three years. Her commitment to school was so great that the only classes she missed in over a year were the week when her husband was hospitalized for a liver transplant.
Through the ups and down of her husband's illness, she was able to find motivation and rewards in her schoolwork. The accomplishment was much more than just gaining a piece of paper — it was putting her life on a new track. And the day she received her diploma, her husband was at her side cheering her on.
“Work is work, because you have to pay your bills and your mortgage,” she says, looking back, “but I completed my degree for me. I’m so proud of what I accomplished, having graduated with a 3.8 GPA. I felt that I succeeded in my life for the first time at something for me.”
To read more Student Stories like these visit our web site.
Daniel Gerger is the President of Adult Education Advocates, an organization that helps adults make the transition back to college.