Over the years as an advisor, mentor and success coach I’ve managed to nail down some themes or patterns that a number of adult students seem to have in common as they embark upon completing their degree. For instance, a particular student comes to mind—let’s call her Jane. Jane has one specific theme that resonates with so many other adults returning to finish that college degree: Life happened.
Life happens, but you still need a bachelors degree
It goes like this. Jane attended some college after high school, landed in a job that offered some opportunities and started to move up the ladder. School only seemed to get in the way of opportunity in the moment. She had a family and continued on with her job, but left college behind. Now, in her early thirties, this pattern begins... colleagues with less experience are now her manager or moving to other divisions of the company, making a higher salary, and holding a more prestigious title.
Why? Because they’re college graduates.
Jane is not unlike dozens of other adult students I’ve met along the way. The cool thing about our Jane and other people like Jane is that she is smart, has a strong work ethic and has impressed her bosses along the way. Then, the wall. In fact, some of Jane’s bosses were surprised to learn she didn’t have a degree—it’s a big company. She would often hear, “Jane, go back and finish so you can apply for…”
A degree is more than a piece of paper
Now, Jane is seeing the writing on the wall. Advancement is out of the question without the “piece of paper.” Jane initially shares, “This is frustrating, I know way more than that person and now they’re moving up.” Granted, Jane probably knows a lot about this company and in many ways could be a better candidate for the job. What Jane does not fully realize, is that a college education has so many critical factors. There are things she does not know. Furthermore, when a company sets out to have an educated workforce, they’re using the “requires a bachelor’s degree to apply” for a reason—a college education takes serious perseverance, commitment, and discipline.
Do it for your career and for yourself
Jane has always had a strong work ethic. She has always been interested in returning to college and earning the respect of her peers. Now though, it has grown into the ultimate personal goal too. Penciling out a plan, she finds there will be plenty of sacrifices—on her time, her family and her friends. How will she manage to do it all? Well, we’re here to help, of course!
In some cases, you may hear friends or colleagues say, “What I do for a living has nothing to do with my college major in blank.” Then chuckle a little. It can often have more to do with the bigger picture—learning information, communicating, persevering, achieving short-term tasks and goals, and ultimately ensuring an employer that you can get the job done. Life happens but having a college degree can allow you to take full advantage of the many unexpected opportunities that will come along.
Robin Tew, Success Coach