Deep breath. Log into Blackboard. Regent University, day one:
Today is the day you become what we call in the world of higher education, an “adult learner.”
Who classifies as an adult learner?
According to industry professionals in higher education, an adult learner is defined as a 25+ year-old student with a full-time job, bills, perhaps a spouse, a few kids, a pet or two and certainly not a lot of free time.
“A majority of them have so many priorities in their lives,” said Liz Dougherty, executive director of Regent University’s General Education Operations. “They’re doing everything they can and they’re doing an awesome job – I don’t know how they’re taking classes on top of all of that!”
But there’s a piece of the “adult learner” definition that’s missing. Something that nearly everyone in pursuit of an advanced degree possesses in one form or another: you have dreams, drive, a passion and vision for your life.
Pursuing, and completing that degree is a vital stepping-stone for your Next Big Thing.
But how many of us put our dreams on the back-burner when we run into obstacles?
How many of us – as full-time employees, parents, spouses, volunteers – have heard that life is about finding the right balance? And what’s more, how many of us have tried to balance all the things, only to have the entire house of busy cards flutter to the floor?
Thankfully, at Regent University, though academically rigorous, our professors and staff are here to help. Here are a few ways to ensure you’ll finish the degree you start.
1. Know that you’re not alone.
An estimated 70 percent of Regent’s students are adult learners. The struggle may be real – but it’s nothing new. Our online classes and eight-week course-schedules are designed for you to learn from anywhere at any time.
2. Remember, you can slow down if you need to (but don’t stop!).
“If you take a break or let a setback get you off track, you’re less likely to finish,” said Dougherty.
Her advice to the adult learner is to take courses part-time if life gets too hectic to manage competing priorities.
“It can be easy to let [dropping] one eight-week session become 10 years,” said Dougherty.
3. On the flip-side, kick it up a gear if you have the time.
There may be a time in your life when taking more courses – even a full-time workload – seems a bit more manageable.
“We don’t always push ourselves during the lulls to pick up the pace,” said Dougherty. “But that’s the nice advance to being online: you can do what’s best for you. Honor your family and your work commitments first, and ‘up your game’ for one semester. It’s a great way to push ahead.”
4. Check out our Center for Student Happiness Coaches!
Regent’s Center for Student Happiness Coaches are a free resource for all students looking for a little extra encouragement through the day-to-day.
“If [students] are having difficulty with time management or feeling like their life is disorganized right now and could use help setting priorities, these coaches can help encourage them to get through it,” said Dougherty.
5. Remember: if it was easy, everyone would do it!
Here’s the thing: you’ve already determined that obtaining an advanced degree in your field will take you to the next level – you may be seeking a promotion in a job you already have, or maybe you have a personal goal to start something new.
Your advanced degree will give you the polish to match your passion; a reputable education is something no one can ever take away from you. Don’t give up. Here’s to polishing your passion and finishing what you start!
You’ve got this, and we’re here to help.