One Adult Student’s Return to Higher EducationCrystal Trotter | Student, Eastern Illinois University
The main reason I returned to higher education was that I worked more than 40 hours a week and still could not support my family of four. The reason I push to go above and beyond in my education now is due to the fact that I watch my fiancé work seven days a week and still not be able to afford to support a family of five. I’ve also heard my father complain because a younger person obtained a job he should have had because he or she had a diploma and my father does not.
When I enrolled in higher education, I expected my degree to earn me a job that would support my family to live adequately. I did attend a community college and obtained my license to practice emergency medicine. However, it did not take long to figure out that job was not for me. I then returned to a university to pursue my dream of being a lawyer. The first semester was wonderful. However, I soon ran into another barricade. I had two more children. I decided to stay at home with my children for a few years. I watched my husband struggle to support a family of five on $300 a week. This was hard for both of us, and we eventually ended the marriage.
The finalization of my divorce set in a cold truth. I would have to work and provide for three children on my own. I began bartending. This was ideal because I worked while the children slept. However, I had to procure child care during the day so I could sleep. As the bar scene became a strain on parenting my children, I changed professions and became a waitress. The money was not as good. However, it gave me more time for my children.
In 2010, I was laid off from my job and started collecting unemployment benefits. All of the children were attending school at this point, and I was tired of scraping by each week. I once again returned to higher education.
Determination was my reasoning this time! It had nothing to do with what type of degree I wanted. It was simply a drive to accomplish what I had set out to do 10 years prior, and to provide a better life for my family. I still expect the same from my degree today. I have come to realize a certain degree may not get you a specific job. I have broadened my horizons and added international relations to my studies along with law. This will help improve my career choices in the future. I have learned that just obtaining a degree is not enough to compete in the job market. It is very competitive. Therefore, you also have to be active on campus while maintaining a high GPA. Higher education requires you to be competitive and, in that sense, prepares you for the job market. A degree is no longer just a piece of paper that will provide a better job; how you earned it also matters.
Author Perspective: Student