Sunday, June 27, 2010

Now is The Time

This week marks a major milestone in summer - June will end and July will begin - the halfway mark. As always, I am left scratching my head and wondering, "Where did the summer go?"

There are many nontrads out there who are in the throes of summer school or just beginning a new term. There are others who are wondering, "Can I do this (return to school)? Should I do this?" The answer to both those questions is a resounding, "YES!!!"

In the summer of 2006, I knew it was time for me to return to school. I would have one child in college and two in high school - old enough to be able to handle themselves so I could return to school. I sat down and talked about it with my former husband. He agreed with me that the time was right. I applied to the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville and was accepted for the fall term of 2006. After going to an adult student orientation (really not much of an "orientation") which was just speaking to an advisor, I decided to defer to the spring term, but instead entered the community college and took a math class - Statistics. My first class at UT was a Social Psychology class on Wednesday nights. I took US History on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Was it scary? Of course! Was I afraid I would not pass my classes or take good notes or or do well on the exams or fit in with my younger classmates? All yes. I entered the "big school" with the same wide-eyed wonder I have seen on the faces of the incoming freshmen. Even though I am an older student, I was no less confused, dazed and frightened by my surroundings than they are.

If you are considering returning to school, now is the time to act. Summer is the time to apply to the school of your choice. I, of course, am biased toward the traditional university setting as opposed to the online school setting. However, time is of the essence in online admission as well. Why procrastinate? If you are seeking financial aid, most aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis, so the sooner you get your applications package in, the better. Also, most scholarship deadlines were May 30, or are June 30 or July 30. Most college financial aid offices can help you with financial aid deadlines like that. My friend, Betsy Boyd at Pellissippi State Community College, Blount County Campus, is a great resource for the nontrads on her campus.

The door is open. Are you going to just stand there and think of all the excuses NOT to walk through the door? Or are you going to take a deep breath and walk through the open door to the adventure that awaits you on the other side? Now is the time.

What does this adventure hold? Let's be honest - some bad things as well as good things. Frustration that you may not remember how to take notes, or can't keep up with a prof who's lecturing at the speed of light, or that you just can't seem to understand how that prof wants that paper written. Annoyance at your classmates who think they can show up to class whenever, then whine when they get a bad grade or bug you for your notes. Fatigue when you're studying for midterms or finals and have several papers due at or around the same time. Welcome to the life of a college student. But there are also the good things - the relationships cultivated with your profs and classmates, the light bulbs that go off when you understand how what you've learned in one class intersects with what you've learned in another class, the satisfaction of having written an "A" paper, the relationships you develop with university staff because you've darkened their doorway so often just to ask questions.

Don't let fear, uncertainty, or naysayers hold you back from getting that college degree - whether it's a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD. Now is the time to step forward - be strong and courageous. Just do it! Stay tuned. . .

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