I'm almost at the end of this journey. All that stands between me and that diploma is: Spanish oral and final exams, a History paper, a Geography test and three unpaid parking tickets. How ironic that graduation is Friday the 13th (of May). Isn't that a fitting way to end my nontrad journey?
I found out that I did indeed get the job in the Math Department. I will start that after I graduate. That's another irony - that me, Miss No-Numbers, will be working in a numbers department. My mom said she hopes some of "it" - the ability to do math and do it well - will rub off on me. Perhaps by osmosis I will be able to derive the quadratic equation in my sleep. Fat chance. Give me words any day!
I am sure there are those out there in nontrad cyberspace who may be waiting with baited breath for some profound words of wisdom as I come to the end of my journey. I am not one to disappoint, so here goes:
1. Just do it!! Don't sit around and debate whether you should go back to school or not, just do it!! Time is short, grants are being cut and who knows what the next few years will hold economically? Grit your teeth, close your eyes and JUMP!
2. Plan. Sit down with your family and make a family game plan for meals, chores, etc. Learn how to manage your time well. Explore funding resources such as scholarships, grants., etc. Apply early and fill our your FAFSA early. The early bird really does get the choicest worm!
3. Pace yourself. Rome wasn't build in a day, neither should your degree be built in a day. Start out slow and small at the community college. That way your pursuits will be less of a shock to you and your family.
4. Get support. Join an online or on campus nontrad group. No one but another nontrad knows the joys and disappointments of being a nontrad.
5. Be realistic. It may take you some time to get back into the swing of researching, studying and writing again. Give yourself some grace. This is another reason to start out slow - to ease you back into the flow of being a student again.
6. Explore ways to save money. Check out textbook rentals, recycling school supplies, taking the bus to school, etc. Be creative.
7. Take some time for yourself. Going back to school may be a shock to you and your family. Take some time alone to refuel and take some time with your family to let them know you have not "forgotten" about them. Declare at least one day a month as a "no study day".
8. Show appreciation - to your family, to your support group, to your professors, to your classmates, to yourself. It's rough being a nontrad when life is happening all around you. Thank those in your life who step in to make this time a little easier for you.
Above all, remember - YOU CAN DO IT!!!! I have faith in you. Deb Peterson has faith in you. Elizabeth Shepherd has faith in you. Dozens of other nontrads have faith in you. In the midst of the mortgage, the school plays, the three dozen cupcakes or cookies, your spouse being on travel for a week, the college visits for your 17-year old, and the calls from your mom, tell yourself, "I WILL do this!!"
There are three important things to remember: take a deep breath, walk before you run, and just do it. I did it. You can, too. Stay tuned . . .