Raymond Dix: College options aid in the pursuit of dreams
By Raymond Dix Jr. October 7, 2011 11:36AM
Updated: January 23, 2012 4:13AM
I must admit the thought of going back to college in my 40s frightened me for several reasons. First, I did not really know what to expect after being away from an academic environment for so long. The last time I read a syllabus with any real intent, gasoline was cheaper than a small cheeseburger today.
In addition, my thoughts raced as to what people would think about me and my seemingly lofty goals of earning a doctoral degree, when I did not even have my bachelor’s degree. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes we all care a bit too much about what others think.
Furthermore, I questioned myself repeatedly about the financial issues regarding college at my age. Certainly, college expenses rose tremendously since my late teens, and there were financial aid forms that seem to require an exhaustive genealogy in order to complete.
My final mental obstacle in returning to school focused on my family, specifically my children. I had one child in college and another fast approaching college age when I decided to go back to school. How would my children view me? Would they see this as an effort to steal their thunder? These are legitimate questions considering the fact that it was and is truly their time to shine.
After all of these issues, I nearly talked myself out of returning to school. I told myself I was too old, too broke, too slow and yes, too tired to meet the demands of a college education. It is strange how we can place limits on ourselves, even when those limits only exist between our own ears.
However, even as I filled my own mind with self-doubt and angst over the decision, there within the deepest recesses of my spirit and being existed a gnawing feeling that I was selling God and myself short. As much as I tried to rationalize my inaction regarding my education, I could not shake the feeling of self-dissatisfaction that churned in my mind like a constant whirlpool.
Perhaps you are like me, or maybe you were able to focus your attention on reaching your education goals prior to the agendas brought by the responsibility and expectations of full adulthood. However, for those whose life required putting their education goals on hold, I want you to know that there is hope to reach your full potential.
Do you remember the dreams of your youth? Perhaps they included a career that now seems like a distant star flickering in a moonlit night. I offer you this encouragement: it has never been easier to pursue a college education than it is today.
Most universities offer programs designed for the working adult. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed or working full time in your current job, if you desire a college education, you can get one.
In my experience, colleges and universities offer at least two options for adult education. The first option includes attending class one night a week for a set period of time. The purpose of this choice is to provide education with the minimum interruption in the adult life schedule. For persons with families and careers who desire hands-on in class instruction, this is a viable opportunity to receive a college education.
For others, like me, whose preference is to work independently or to have maximum flexibility of schedule, the online option is the best. I must confess that being able to break from my assignments and watch ESPN was a plus. The online choice offers the student the flexibility of schedule necessary for those whose personal agendas require such.
Of course, in considering a return to college, finances are always a serious consideration and can seem to be an insurmountable hurdle. In my experience, most universities offer flexible payment options that include financial aid, scholarships and loans for adult learners.
As a lifelong believer in education, reared by an educator, I realized that it was time to put up or shut up. I could not in good conscience continue to encourage others, especially young people, to reach their educational goals in pursuit of their dreams and ignore the need to set an example by reaching my own goals.
As I prepare for the next degree, I encourage every person to whom this applies to remember your dream; it is not nearly as far away as you may think. As the ancient proverb states, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” Take that first step; it could be the action needed to put you on the course of success. Forget the excuses that paralyze you and prevent you from being that which you know in your heart you desire to achieve. I encourage you to act now and fulfill your dreams.