Hi all, it’s your long lost friend Silken!
It’s the same old me, only now I’m an official graduate of Georgian College’s Early Childhood Education program and I finally have some free time back! (YAY!) I can’t believe how long it’s been since I sat down to write something other than an assignment for school. As someone who loves creative writing, I’ve missed the freedom of mindlessly typing on word-press or putting my pen to paper in a gratitude journal. I’m excited to dive right back into sharing new recipes, wellness tips, spreading positivity and sharing my lifestyle! Before I close this chapter and move onto the next one, I want to share my advice on going back to school as an adult!
If there was anything holding me back from enrolling in my THIRD college program, it was fear. I was worried about what others would think of me. I was worried about managing a full time job and being in a full time program. I was worried about finances. I was worried about how long it would take for me to graduate. And to be honest, looking back now, all of the things I was worried about were totally figure-outable! First of all, WHO CARES what other people think of you! (Shouldn’t we all know this by now!?) Secondly, if working and being in school simultaneously taught me anything…it was how to be organized, develop time-management skills and that I am an extremely hard worker! Financially, I needed to budget, prioritize and learn to say no! (R.I.P. daily Starbucks and weekend trips to Homesense, I probably shouldn’t be buying you anyways!) And as for how long it would take me to graduate…the time was going to pass anyways, I might as well be consistently working towards my goals!
Here’s five tips that helped me survive the last two years as a full-time college student:
- Feel the fear and do it anyways! I was 17 when I enrolled in my first college program. At the time I had a general idea of what I found interesting career-wise, but my mind has (naturally with age and life experiences) changed multiple times since! I always knew my purpose was to support vulnerable people in my community. At first I thought I would be in social services and then I thought I’d work in law enforcement and eventually I found a passion in child development! Five years later, I have an impressive amount of education, knowledge and skills that will support me in any direction that my career takes me. The funny thing is that with each program I enrolled in, I had fears. The outcome? I faced those fears, learned so much (about working in the field of human services as well as about myself) and came out confident and with not one, not two, but three diplomas! So I encourage you to find your WHY, feel the fear and do it anyways!
- Find a support system. I have no idea where I’d be in life without my support system. As adults we have many responsibilities: jobs, houses, bills, children, pets, etc! Without support, reassurance or someone to cry to during midterm season (don’t act like you’ve never done it!) life can feel overwhelming at times. Finding a support system is crucial in our day to day lives and it’s a bonus to have when you’re in school. Receiving support, words of encouragement and love from my friends and family over the past two years is what continuously motivated me to work hard, stay focused and do the damn thing! This time around, I also wasn’t afraid to rely on my college faculty for support when I needed it either! I was e-mailing, asking questions, booking meetings and sitting front seat to ensure that I received the support I needed to be successful in my program! (Your teachers want to help you, but if you don’t ask, you won’t receive answers! If you have a question, it’s most likely that other students in your program do too…so just reach out! You won’t regret it!)
- PLAN! Before I even applied to different colleges, I made a game plan. (Remember SMART goals from high school!? This is one of those things that you can actually use in life!) Be SPECIFIC: I wanted to graduate the early childhood education program with honours *I did it*. Ensure that it is MEASURABLE: I wanted to transfer as many courses I could from previous programs as possible, to minimize my course-load and remain focused on completing one semester at a time. Ensure that the goal is ATTAINABLE: I had to remain flexible in my lifestyle to make sure that my goal was attainable. This meant changing my schedule at work (to split shift hours) so that I could remain working while also having time to study in the middle of the day between shifts. Be RELEVANT: I had to find my WHY! I wanted to feel more confident in my practice, I wanted to dive deeper into studying child development and I wanted to further my qualifications to better my career! Set a TIME: I dipped my toes into the child development practitioner apprenticeship program and realized that I could achieve my goal of becoming a registered early childhood educator sooner if I just took the leap, worked a little harder and enrolled in the fast-track program at Georgian College. Goodbye 3-5 year apprenticeship, hello 1.5 year diploma!
- Set Priorities. I’m not going to lie, prioritizing school over other things that seem fun as a 24 year old was sometimes a buzzkill! I had to miss a few weekend plans with friends, spend some of the summer inside at my desk, save my money for text books and tuition and completely forget about any type of week-night plans! With that being said, it’s also important to find a balance in your work/school/personal life. Prioritizing mandatory “me time” was how I managed to survive the last year and a half without completely burning out! (Many many many, Sunday night bubble baths and face masks were had!) In the end, I am so proud that I prioritized school and hammered it out when I did!
- Work hard! I feel like this is a given. But when you’re an adult and make the choice to return to school, the pressure is on to be successful. Not that the 17 year old Silken didn’t want to be successful (at “funshawe” like they call it), but this time around I wanted to to kick ass, get 90’s, dive deep into my studies, READ all of the resources provided, feel engaged in our lectures and prove to myself that I can do hard things! I wanted to be the best student I could be, so that I can be the best Early Childhood Educator that I can be!
- Bonus tip: Buy cute notebooks, drink wine and use swear words! (Just kidding- kind of!) I would be lying if I said I didn’t pour a glass of wine or two and maybe say WTF to myself at least once during exam season! Do what it takes people!!
If you’ve been considering returning to school as an adult, whether it’s full time or part time, PLEASE take my advice and just do it! You can do it! I believe in you! You should believe in you! The time will pass anyways! You will never regret doing something that will better yourself and your future! That’s it, that’s all! Happy studying nerds!