As adult learners take on the challenge of returning to school to complete a degree or pursue a higher degree, lessons learned through the turmoil of the past few months provide important tools for the challenge that lies ahead.
As adult learners take on the challenge of returning to school to complete a degree or pursue a higher degree, lessons learned through the turmoil of the past few months provide important tools for the challenge that lies ahead. While grit and patience will serve the student well, one final requirement for success in achieving one’s goals is summed up in a commonly repeated phrase around the R. John Buuck Field House during athletic practice:
Wherever you are, be where you are!
The challenge is not to dwell on past mistakes, distractions, or failures nor look too far ahead with anxiety and concerns for the future. Be present. Be in the moment.
In our Christian community at Concordia University, which includes evening adult classes at various centers, virtual sessions, online, or traditional on-campus classes, there is no more pertinent lesson from Scripture than the words of Psalm 118:24:
“THIS is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
You may remember singing that children’s song as a child. It holds incredible value for adults facing all types of challenges – academic as well as personal. God has given you today as a gift. What will you do with it? If you waste the day fretting over past struggles or worrying about how you’ll ever finish your plan or what will or won’t happen when you do, you are basically snubbing your Creator and His gift of a new day by saying “No thanks!”
Below are a few suggestions to help the adult learner make the most of today.
Trust your process
Education is an ongoing process. In fact, those students who develop a learning process often continue the learning process after their degree is earned. Focus on learning as a routine practice – not simply the credits or the grades. Developing routines and best practices will aid your learning of concepts, your interactions with instructors and peers, and maximize your experiences. When you focus on “how” you learn, you lay a path for lifetime learning.
Listen to the right voices
The adult learner often hears the call of past mistakes or struggles. When you face challenges, you are going to hear voices of all kinds. When you decide to do something different or difficult, voices will also challenge you. Ask yourself – which voices am I hearing the most? Voices of self-doubt, of enemies, of insecurity, of the past? When those voices grow louder, consider two better options – speak positives into your own life and turn up the volume on the voice of your Creator. God created you in His own image for a specific purpose. Remind yourself of that as you take on new academic challenges.
Do the next right thing
Being present requires you to make choices of how you approach each opportunity in the new day you are given, whether it’s chasing a new degree, building the strength of your family, or responding to the challenges in today’s society. You basically have three choices – do something that doesn’t work; do nothing, or do the next right thing.
Each day has opportunity – don’t miss the big ones. It doesn’t matter what mistakes were made in the past – do the next right thing and put in the work today. As motivational writer and author of “Eat That Frog” Brian Tracy suggests:
“Continually move yourself in the direction of your biggest goals and ambitions. You need to be willing to face discomfort in order for you to grow.”
Whether you have yet to make the commitment to complete a degree or you’ve already begun but have run into obstacles, do the next right thing – today! And as you do, incorporate that into other areas of your life. Move on from the past. Don’t over-complicate the future with worry. Do the next right thing.
As you consider the path of the adult learner, contact CUW’s Adult Accelerated Admissions for assistance and guidance in achieving your individual goals as an adult learner.
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