Earning a Degree Later in Life: The Positives Prevail

From single parents and fortunate spouses, to a few married couples making the joint decision to enroll together, I see adult students as being not only great examples to others but truly special people. They are making a bold decision in their lives that sometimes forces them to put family members, friends, jobs, or social commitments on hold or to make them a different priority while they take their futures in hand.

adult studentsSome of my students have shared that before starting their full-time education, many family members had concerns that quality time with their soon-to-be college-bound loved one would suffer. From personal experience, I know there is simply no denying that going back to school introduces changes that affect both the family and social dynamic.

This can range from adjusting budgets to accommodate tuition and travel costs, to finding the right balance between family time, social time, and study time, to adjusting sleep habits.

In several articles in a leading education journal, Stainstreet (2010) and Willmott (2010) have written about how the success of non-traditional universities has demonstrated that for adults earning their degrees later in life, the positives far outweigh any perceived negatives.

For instance, one thing that I encourage is for students to recognize that the time demands of school can actually become a motivating factor to make time with family and friends more special. This is one of the concepts students learn about in their academic careers at Stevens-Henager College. Throughout the academic journey, a student develops the insight to help them better balance work, family, social, and school responsibilities, because the student is forced to optimize their time (Bjerkaker, 2010).

In a recent class we engaged in a discussion about the importance of education in the workforce and that leaders often set an example by doing. A student shared the following: “That’s why I am here. How can I tell my kids how important school is when I barely passed high school? Now I am getting my bachelor’s in business and I am setting an example of what is necessary in life. How can I say education is important but live my life almost demonstrating that I am lying about that fact? I hate lying to my children and because I am here, now, then I am not only not lying, but I am living the truth. And because I am being this person, they are encouraging me. When I am frustrated with homework or stressed with a test, my boys tell me that they believe in me. They see my struggle and support me. How can I let them down after they are so supportive?”

I see so many students from all walks of life in class, and I truly treasure the opportunities that Stevens-Henager College gives to so many people. But perhaps you can see why one group in particular elicits just a little more “wow” from me when I hear their stories.

References
Collins, J. (2011). “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.” Harper Business.
Bjerkaker, S. (2010, January). Untitled. Adults Learning, 21(5), 29.
Stanistreet, P. (2010, January). Untitled. Adults Learning, 21(5), 2.
Willmott, R. (2010, February). “Lifelong learning at the heart of all we do.” Adults Learning, 21(6), 24-26.


Author Bio
Dr. Aaron Hobbs is a full-time professor with Stevens-Henager College and currently serves as the Department Chair in the MBA program for the Salt Lake City/Murray campus. He enjoys working with people, developing both character and business acumen, and especially learning from students and clients as well as teaching new things to them. Aaron received his Doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2011 and has worked as an executive for over 15 years. His college degrees include an MBA with an emphasis in Information Technology, a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, and the US Navy’s equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering. Aaron has a very diverse background ranging from serving in the United States Navy, being a manager with Toshiba, becoming a vice president of a Colorado-based construction company, and being a successful business consultant and success coach.

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