When I was a high school senior I remember sitting on my bed, reading a brochure about college in Ireland and literally fantasizing not only about going to college but also about going so far away from my little corner in Kansas where I grew up and had yet to travel no further than Missouri which was a scant 20 miles northeast!
Well, I have yet to make it to Ireland but I did make it to college. Kansas City Kansas Community College where it took me about four years to complete 12 credit hours. I had a lot going on – two jobs and a boyfriend and a cache of excuses for missing and later dropping several of my classes. I was a first generation, sometime, part-time college student who understood the value of a college education but just didn’t have the personal infrastructure to help me become successful. That is, until an opportunity to save gas money presented itself. You see, I was not alone in trying to carve out gas money in the early 80’s to drive 40 miles round trip in a less than fuel efficient car. I discovered that at least three other students , all from my home town, were also in need of a little monetary help to keep attending class. So, we did what any other budding college students would do – we carpooled! We continued to carpool for the next few semesters appreciating the little extra dough in our pockets but appreciating even more the support group we had created for each other. Any personal issues any of us were experiencing, well we had 20 miles there and back to find solutions. And we did! Together we found ways to juggle home and job and kids and sometimes we even found a way to deal with the spouse who just did not understand why his wife needed to go to college.
Because of that group of ladies I was able to complete 12 credit hours and gain the confidence to continue my studies at ASU after getting married (to the boyfriend) and moving to Arizona. While attending ASU, several of us Accounting students intentionally enrolled in the same classes/sections. We held each other accountable not only to ourselves but also to the success of the class.
That same practice of embedding myself in a study/suppport cohort helped me get through my Master’s and Doctoral programs. It’s a tried and true approach – find a third party to hold yourself accountable to! You can always rationalize to yourself why you shouldn’t study or continue but it’s not so easy when you bring someone else into the discussion.
Finding inspiration from others while continuing my journey as a life long learner has also served me well outside of the formal classroom environment.
Over the years I’ve pursued piano lessons using a book titled “The Older Beginner” (no kidding) and the encouragement of my then 12 year old daughter who was learning the flute and my nine year old son who was learning the drums. (I’m hoping to have earned some wings for that one!)
I’ve also explored quilting with the help of some ladies who are very experienced in needle work. These same ladies also helped me realize that it takes patience to be even a half way decent quilter and it’s not for everyone.
You see, support to continued learning can come in all shapes, sizes and ages. It’s important that we recognize and embrace the support available and to then reciprocate support when possible.
Here’s to all of you Life Long Learners – enjoy the journey!