Pursuing a college education as an adult
As an adult, going back to school is a challenging endeavor. Balancing employment and home life on top of college, and the work that comes along with it, can be quite a daunting task. With the stresses that most middle class families in America today face, it most likely can seem almost overwhelming at times. Attempting to balance your time and finances are high on the list of issues one will face. Overall, pursuing an education as a non-traditional student can be challenging for a number of reasons; time management, financial strains, and the obstacles of becoming a student again after being out of school for many years.
Finances alone can present great stresses on a typical family. Tuition for college alone, in some cases, can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can, and most likely will, create anxiety with within the minds of students and spouses with home mortgages and even with a couple living in a rented apartment. There may be less money to spend and save for things the family may have taken for granted before. A couple with children may face an additional set of challenges all together. Back to school clothes and supplies for children are costing much more now than they were even 5 years ago. Clothes, food, utility bills and mortgage or rent have to be paid regardless of circumstance, all while the family is adding up the tuition and school loan payments that have to be paid before the next semester begins or after the coursework and degree is completed, as is the case with most government loan programs. Seeing the amount of money that is being accumulated for the cost of an education may give some adults pause. Thinking about the cost of monthly school loan payments and the state of the present economy would certainly be cause for alarm whether it is justified or not.
Time management may be one of the most challenging obstacles non-traditional students face when returning back to school. Working adults often have families and other obligations that consume a large majority of time and resources. Returning students with young children especially face difficulties of spending less time at home with their young children, often missing the time that was once cherished. For instance, men and women who work full time jobs and attend classes in the evenings may miss their children’s sporting events, school events, and other activities their children are involved in. Working, spending time with children, and pursuing an education requires not only a great deal of time, but also the ability to manage that time effectively.
Another obstacle working parents returning to school may face is scheduling conflicts with work and school. Many professions require evening hours or hours that conflict with school schedules; such professions include nursing, factory work, or night shifts in retail stores. One must collaborate with two conflicting schedules in order to fit both school and work into their daily lives. These challenges are often reasons why some adult learners decide against returning to school or lead to one dropping out of school after realizing the stress and difficulty it is managing too much at once.
A third challenge adult learners face is simply returning to school after being out of school for so long. Some non-traditional students return only a short while and may be considered “young” whereas others return after many years realizing that it is a difficult world to assimilate into. While the world of education changes, many returning students are not familiar with the academic process; admissions, financial aid, etc. It may seem intimidating to students who have not done such processes in the past, and can be overwhelming when faced with not knowing where to turn something in to or how to access a college or university account online. Again, especially for working students, this may pose a problem due to lack of time to accomplish all the things that need to be finalized before school even begins.
Overall, working adults making the leap back to school will no doubt be a very difficult and stressful endeavor. Finding the time to balance family, school and work, possibly taking a decrease in pay and financing a college education, and fitting back into the world of school are all challenges returning students will inevitably face. Although pursuing an education pays off in the end, the challenges students face pose many hurdles along the way and the light at the end of the tunnel may appear very dim.