Sticking With It: Persisting to Graduation at Empire State College
By the DAS Team, directors of academic support, Empire State College
May 15, 2014
Adult learners face a whole set of challenges that traditional age students typically do not have to deal with. Once you address those challenges, you’ll greatly increase your chances of finishing your degree.
The biggest hurdle for most adult learners is time. And it often boils down to the fact that we don’t have enough of it. As an adult learner myself, I had to accept the reality that I needed to give something up. My schedule was already tight—two school-aged kids; aging parents; a full-time job (sound familiar?)—so where was I going to fit school? I quickly came to realize that I had to prioritize my education, or I’d never finish. This meant cutting back on the little social life I had. (No movies, no more days spent at the mall—at least until the breaks between each semester!) It was painful sometimes, and I even questioned going back to school at all. But making my education a priority resulted in that joyous day when I walked across the stage in my cap and gown.
Another issue we often face after being away from school for a while is that our skills have grown rusty. Don’t let that stop you from earning your degree. Each of the regional centers have an Academic Support Center with coaches who can assist you. They can help you write your papers (prior learning assessment and rationale essays included) and successfully complete math assignments, among other things. That support can be face-to-face, or they can work with you at a distance. There also is online tutoring available from Smarthinking.com. Log in and find a tutor waiting to help you. In addition, most regional centers offer local academic support workshops that you can participate in. And there’s a series of online workshops available to all students at Empire State College. These services and workshops are free—and very helpful. Information on all of this can be found here: http://www.esc.edu/learning-support/
You also need to consider what kind of learner you are. At Empire State College, you can study in a variety of different ways: guided independent study, group study, online study, etc. However, not every mode of study is a good fit for everyone. Some students, for example, are more successful when they learn in a structured environment. If you need that kind of structure, don’t kid yourself. You might want to avoid guided independent study in favor of group studies and online courses. The goal is to complete your degree, so put yourself in the learning environment that best positions you to reach that goal.
Finally, take control of your educational experience. Stay in touch with your mentor, and ask for help when you are uncertain. Most important, if life gets in the way of completing assignments or studies, the worst thing you can do is “disappear.” Reach out to your mentor, to the course instructor or to the Office of Academic Support. We can strategize with you to help you finish what you’ve started.