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Sacrifice and Determination: Inspiring Stories of Women Earning Their Degree

Mike Frantz / Buena Vista University »

The majority of college students are not residing and studying on campuses with ivied walls and bell towers. Yet, we call this majority “non- traditional.” Indeed, the majority of undergraduate college students are over the age of 22, many work full- or part-time, and a large number have children. They don’t fit easily into a homogenous description. But, what they do have in common is the goal of higher education and the desired benefits that come with the rewards of degrees earned.  This article focuses on three women who are “traditionally” aged, but not found on traditional, four-year campuses.

For Cheyenne, education has always been the highest priority, dating back to high school or before. She worked full-time by day and attended classes in the evenings or online, “The University offered night classes and were flexible with my class load so I could still work full time every day.” Cheyenne adds, “Understand that you will miss things, but you have to make sacrifices. Classes fly by so you might as well embrace them and learn rather than complain.” She ends by saying “Once you start, time flies by. It seems like I was just starting yesterday and now I will be graduating.”

Hope was a “decent high school student.” Yet, as she worked on her degree, other responsibilities popped up. Hope helped the family business then started her family while in college.  Hope commented on the need for alternative delivery formats for classes that worked with her busy live. The best route for her was online classes. “I wanted to be able to be a stay at home mom and continue all of my schooling before my son was old enough to start school,” she said. Hope states, “It can be a struggle at times but there is always enough time in the day to balance all of these things.”

Childcare Alternatives for Adult Students

Nancy says she “was a pretty average” student.  Nancy considered pausing after earning her associate’s degree, but in her words, “I had considered it [taking a break from school], but the saying ‘once you leave, it’s hard to go back’ kept playing in my mind and I decided to just go ahead and go for it.” Nancy had to work to support her son as a single parent. Nancy sums it up nicely by saying, “I have to sacrifice time away from my son, but I knew it was only temporary.” She explains, “I know what it’s like to go weeks or months with only a handful of hours of sleep a night; but this too shall pass. Just like we watch in amazement as our children grow years in what seems like a blink-of-an-eye, our education goals do too.”

Sometimes, the biggest hurdles to finishing a degree program are attitude and willingness to sacrifice. Each had a lot of potential excuses to not be in college, but they made the tough short-term decisions to achieve long-term goals.

Become the inspiration for someone else. Nancy said it well, “It never occurred to me that one day I could be someone’s inspiration. I’m most happy knowing that I can help someone make a change in their life.” Whether your actions inspire your own child, a parent or even a stranger, know that achieving your educational goals spurs others to do the same.

Determination, will power, desire. Call it what you want, but it is a significant key to achieving educational and other goals. Find inspiration where you can. For some, they see it in their child’s eye. For others, it is the calm knowledge that a parent had walked the same path years prior and paved the way for them. Draw on family and friends for support. They’ll be there on graduation day—probably embarrassing you with loud noises when you receive your diploma.


More Helpful Resources:

Calling On Your Support Network: Childcare Alternatives for Adult Students

Getting College Credit for Life Experience You Already Have

Beating the Confidence Gap and Earning Your Degree

Employer Assisted Tuition: 8 Strategies to Persuade Your Boss

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