A Partner for the Journey
Adult students attend college for a variety of reasons. Some are looking to advance in their careers; some to change direction; and many to fulfill a commitment they made to themselves or to serve as a role model for their families. While their reasons differ, nearly all of them face the challenge of adding a commitment to school to an already-long list of responsibilities.
Our experience working with adult learners has taught us that these students appreciate and respond well to advice and support to balance an education with the competing demands of career and family. The story below illustrates some of the hurdles adult students encounter along their journey and how personalized coaching assists them to successfully stay on track.
Jenn’s Student Story
Jenn worked in health care management. While her job paid her bills, it didn’t fulfill her. She wanted to return to school to pursue an MBA to advance her career. Her work demanded more than 50 hours a week including weekends in addition to a long commute, so she opted to take online courses. She underestimated the rigor of online learning.
“I didn’t understand how much time and focus online courses would require,” she said. “I was overwhelmed from the start. I tried my best in my courses but I wasn’t getting good grades. I didn’t understand the instructors’ expectations and how to do better but I was working as hard as I could.”
Jenn questioned if she belonged in college at all. Desperation only compounded her frustration. While she cared about the people her organization served, her workplace had turned into a hostile environment. Yet she needed a degree to make a career change. Her job played a large role in Jenn’s life, but she also took care of her father who had a stroke four years before, grieved over her brother’s death and battled depression. Emotionally and physically drained, she contemplated withdrawing from school at least once a week.
“Every week was a battle of demanding priorities and feeling like I couldn’t do any of it.”
Jenn’s college offered the chance for her to talk to a student success coach. Feeling as though she had nothing to lose by trying, she met with Tina.
“I was able to connect with her and share my stress about school and work,” Jenn said. “There were many tears of frustration. She took time to listen to me and really understand why I wanted my degree. She reminded me that I didn’t have to be perfect, and the only way to graduation is to keep trying. Honestly, I wouldn’t have completed the first terms in school without her.”
Jenn struggled most with belief in herself. Even when her grades improved and she started to receive positive feedback from professors, it took a long time for her to accept her own strengths.
“Each week Tina helped me focus on the most important task and say ‘no’ to the other things in my way,” she said. “She helped me discover an inner strength I didn’t know I had, so I could get through the rough times.”
Jenn graduated with honors and landed a position as director of a rehabilitation facility, a job that combined her experience and her advanced degree. After overcoming challenges completing her education, she felt empowered that she could accomplish any task and set her next goal to run a marathon. She succeeded at that, too.
Jenn’s journey resembles those of many adult learners and serves as just one example of how coaching helps students navigate stumbling blocks to stay in school.
*Names have been changed
See our Solutions for Adult Students