Dear NorcalBrad,
I am 37 year old senior @ USF in St.Petersburg/Tampa Fl. Going back to college as an adult IS very rewarding on many different levels. I just finished the most difficult semester yet which the experience being what it was, has prompted me to reach out to a forum to listen to other adult students. I have friends at school but most are in their mid-twenties or less. I am an adult with two young children and a very sick, disabled wife. To say that getting this far in school has been a challenge is an understatement to the n(th) degree.

But now, I am so heavily invested that there is no way to not see it through to the end. The only possible outcome at this point is to walk across that stage to receive that degree. In the beginning, it is exciting and scary and the daunting challenge could threaten to deter you anytime in the first two years when your investment is not too huge yet. YOU WILL BE Challenged but at the end of every semester when you have gained a new chunk of credits you will have a very strong feeling self accomplishment that will make you feel very good, almost euphoric when you complete the more difficult semesters.

There is so much advice that exists to offer that I could write a dissertation on it and that will not fit in this forum. Expect setbacks and that your hindsight vision will become a very keen sense. For example, I have been at this for almost 5 years now and still have a little more than a year to go and for the first time I had a situation that was new to me this past semester. I had a difficult courseload putting a Biology and Chemistry together in the same semester along with Statistics. I was an Engineering major and already well accomplished in math so Stats was my easy class compared to Bio which I was worried about passing. Well, I passed the Bio and Chem, the hard ones, and failed the Stats (the easy one). I knew all the material and was prepared so how did this happen? It happened because I was ignorant on one of the schools student policies. My final exam schedule came up as Bio, Chem, and Stats all in the same day which meant starting from 8am for three exams each lasting 3 hours with only 15 minutes inbetween. This meant the day ended at 5:30pm with no opportunity to take a lunch break and so I approached it with an "I can do this" attitude without questioning if there was an alternative. On the four days leading up to the exams I studied around the clock with barely any sleep and the night before, I did not sleep. Stayed up all night getting ready for the tests. I passed Bio and Chem because those tests involved answering questions and bubbling in answers but my easy class, "Stats", required more concentration and focus to work out multi-step problems. I failed the Stats exam and class (got a D in the class so I am going to have to retake it).

Since I was extremely upset about the outcome I emailed the Dean hoping that maybe I could get a chance to retake the exam. What I found out was that the school does have a policy for when students have 3 or more exams in the same day. I could have made arrangements with my instructors to take one of the exams on a different day but since I did not follow this policy by making the arrangements beforehand, I am stuck with the outcome. The lesson learned, questioned anything that can make every possible challenge easier for YOU.

Overall, YOU ARE DOING the right thing! I still worry about finding a job after graduating but no matter what I know that I will be a lot less limited on the jobs I will be able to apply for, I am a lot smarter now that I am educated, and my heart will feel more full when I have that degree. The feeling of accomplishment will be one of the most rewarding aspects and even though I have had to make myself and my family poor to do this, it is worth it. As a matter of fact, we are in the Save our Homes program and in mediation to keep from getting foreclosed on which should tell you that there is some meaning to the saying "Where there is a will, there is a way". Good luck, and if there is a way for me to provide advice then so be it.