When Plans Go Out the Window: Surviving Bumps in the Road as an Adult Learner

I am a working mother of two beautiful and energetic young children, a 5-year-old and an 8-month-old. I work at least 40 hours a week, so to survive the summer while the oldest is out of school, I have to have a plan. And I did. Luckily, my husband is a teacher and also has summers off, so he is able to stay home with the kids while I go to work. That is until yesterday, when he dislocated his shoulder and now has to wear a sling for up to four weeks. There goes my summer plan - out the window. 

What does this have to do with adult learners? No, I am not one myself, but I do have similar responsibilities. Adult students have lives outside of college. They do not have a dorm room that they can hole themselves up in to cram for an upcoming exam. They can’t retreat to the library for an all nighter where they cannot be bothered. They have jobs, families, doctor’s appointments, birthday parties. To fit college into an already busy schedule, adult students have to have a plan. They have to schedule study times after the kids have gone to bed or on their lunch breaks. They have to line up babysitters for proctored exam appointments. But most importantly, they have to adapt when those plans get tossed out the window. 

Being a grown up means things happen that are out of your control and sometimes throw your plans out of whack. The key to surviving is being able to change gears and not give up when that happens. You may have a big assignment due the next morning, but it doesn’t matter when your child is sick and you have to be up all night with him/her. In times like that, it may be easy to throw in the towel and think it can’t be done. But it can be done. Change your plan, and communicate with your instructor. They know life happens, and they are often willing to work with you on deadlines and extensions to help you succeed in the class.

As I’m typing this from home while I bounce a baby on my lap - the moral of this story is to not give up when life throws you a curveball. Throw your plan out the window, make a new one, and you can still get the job done.