Published on 2013/05/01

One Adult Student’s Return to Higher Education

One Adult Student’s Return to Higher Education
Earning a higher education degree gives adult students more than just a credential for the workforce; it provides critical experience graduates can translate into much-needed soft skills to succeed in the labor market.

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.

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Readers Comments

Xavier Fleming 2013/05/01 at 9:27 am

The author raises a good point that obtaining a degree and getting good grades are only part of the story. In order to be truly competitive in the job market, you have to be like Ms. Trotter and take the initiative to get involved in extracurricular activities in order to develop the “soft skills” that are so vital to help you succeed in the workplace.

Jessica Prince 2013/05/01 at 3:29 pm

What an inspirational story! You have made some big sacrifices in order to pursue your education, and I wish you all the best as you do so.

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