The Women's Journal

Learning Curve

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shannon_yerkic_as11_sqBy: Shannon Yerkic

Facing your fears about returning to school

Are you considering joining your child in shopping for back-to-school supplies this year? More adults are choosing to go back to school to complete a degree or advance their career. Here’s why you should sharpen your pencils, pack your backpack, and put your fears of returning to school behind you.

Facing the fear

The reasons to return to school can vary for each individual – professional advancement, personal achievement, or building a strong foundation for their family. Whatever the reason, many adults have concerns about either starting school at an older age or returning after a long hiatus from the classroom.

Fears of adult learners are often different from fears of traditional students.

Most adults who are considering going back to school have careers, financial burdens, family responsibilities, and more “adult-related” worries. However, some fears remain constant – fitting in, falling behind in class, or homework difficulties.

The greatest challenge facing adults who decide to return to school is overcoming that first fear – making the decision to further their education and the reorganization of their time and family it may take to do it.

The most common fears include:

•  Being out of school too long/fitting in
•  Finding time to go to school
•  Time it takes to complete the program
•  Family and career responsibilities
•  The cost/expense

Although it can be a struggle balancing work, school and family, part of the accomplishments adults feel when returning to school is overcoming personal, professional, and academic obstacles along the way. Adult learners need to find the support and encouragement from their school, career, and family to stay dedicated and remember that the destination is worth the sacrifice.

Characteristics of adult learners

Studies indicate that adult learners feel they need guidance, counseling, and career planning assistance more than their younger counterparts. Adults have additional associated risk factors that can interfere with their educational goals, such as childcare, transportation, work, and family obligations and responsibilities. Therefore, it is highly important that adult learners seek out assistance and academic support during their time in school.

Characteristics of adult learners can also vary
dramatically from traditional students.

Adult learners tend to:
•  Be solution-centered by focusing on how education can help them get where they want to be
•  Have specific results in mind
•  Seek education that relates or applies to their perceived needs

Many adult learners look at the time it takes to complete a program before returning to school. They tend to look for a reasonable program length and flexible class scheduling that allow them to reach their goals without interfering with their career or family.

Rewards of returning

The benefits of returning to school can far outweigh the concerns or struggles adult students may encounter along the way. Adult learners can experience personal growth and achievement and career advancement. They also can set a positive example for their children.

Dawn Career Institute graduate Jennifer Sundberg wanted a better life for her and her son:
“I didn’t want to be stuck in fast food all of my life. I knew that the only way to get further in life was to go back to school. I went back to school for myself and to show my son that his mommy could do it. I didn’t want to have to struggle to provide for him. Since I went back to school, I have a whole new perspective on life – school changes people. There are more doors, more opportunities.”

Karl Dispenziere returned to school for a career change:
“I had been in manufacturing my whole life and was happy until I was suddenly unemployed when they closed the plant. I came to realize unskilled labor is no way to go. You have to go back and get trained in something.”

Adult learners need to remember the reason they’re
returning to school and the many rewards that can come along with it.

About Shannon Yerkic, Chief Operating Officer – Admissions and Career Services at Dawn Career Institute

Shannon’s career began in the healthcare industry where he managed more than 150 healthcare professionals and provided service to more than 132 clients. He transitioned his success in healthcare into education with experience as a director of career services and director of admissions. Yerkic brings an excitement and energy into the Dawn Career Institute through his passion for helping lead students to success in their education and careers.

More on Shannon Yerkic:
•  Graduate of Valdosta State University
•  Former Director of Admissions at Florida Technical College
•  Former Director of Career Services at Florida Technical College
•  Former Managing Director at Huntington Learning Center
•  Former Vice President of Sales and Marketing for an Education Consulting Company