Published on 2012/07/03
Despite the red tape adult students must navigate in completing their higher education, the end result makes it worth-while. Photo by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

During different times within my adult life, I have been asked, “Why do you continue to go to school?” My first instinct is to answer their question with a question and say, “Why not?” Then I have to bounce back outside of my box and realize that everyone doesn’t understand why adults continue to further their education.

Our society has endured great changes, especially surrounding the need for individuals to have more qualifications in order to successfully obtain a great job. At the beginning of my adult educational experience, I felt that gaining more knowledge would help me land the job that I always dreamt of; well, I can honestly say that opportunity has still not arrived.  There were patches of anger throughout my educational journey because I had started to believe I was making a mistake of staying in school. I felt that I was only building up debt for my future and possibly creating a burden for my school-aged son. Despite the negative feelings I had developed, I decided to stay strong and keep pushing because I don’t believe in throwing in the towel so easily. Eventually, the passion to continue my education focused more on the desire to learn, connect with others who share similar career goals, and set an example for my son who has begun his journey through the many stages of school.

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2009 and for a moment, I felt relieved to be done with homework; however, that moment was quickly interrupted by the return of clicking keyboard keys, deadlines, and of course—homework. There is so much pressure placed on individuals to at least have a master’s degree because more advanced jobs either requires or prefer this level of educational achievement. I wanted to obtain a master’s degree in another major that I could link to the criminal justice field, so I completed my master’s degree in Forensic Psychology specializing in Mental Health Applications.

Studying different subjects that can be linked to one another can help broaden career options and could possibly become a backup if one career path fails. By this time within my educational journey, I was so driven to learn more that I went on to earn a certificate in Psychology-Teaching Online. My family kept asking was this going to be my last time going back to school and for now it will be, but I have a desire to obtain a PhD degree. Unfortunately, there are two obstacles holding me back from entering into a PhD program; increasing school loans and reaching the allowed limit as well as having the ability to attend residencies.

As far as reaching the max of student loans, I wouldn’t have even known there were limits if it wasn’t for my best friend. We were discussing student loans and continuing school when she informed me to watch the total of my loans because once it reach a certain amount, there is a possibility that the loans can be stopped. I was shocked that after over three years of adult education, I had never been informed of this limitation from the financial aid office. I believe that in order for adults to fully prepare for the extension of their education, there should be discussions based solely on how many loans an individual is allowed to have.

Attending residencies is a problem for me due to schedule restraints and I have found that to be a problem for other mothers as well. If there is a way to create more opportunities for individuals to participate in residencies online, then maybe it could bring forth more enrollments for adults who have a busy schedule. Overall, despite my fears, concerns, and frustrations, I don’t regret continuing my education as an adult. In fact, I love it and would recommend other adults to not let their anxieties get the best of them because everyone learns differently. If you find yourself taking longer to obtain a degree than your peers, don’t give up because the end reward will be fulfilling.

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