For a nontraditional adult student with a family, getting
a college degree is a juggling act: classes, children, a job,
and of course, homework. Adult students, like traditional students
must prioritize then schedule a plan of action, but they have
to allow more time for unexpected events, such as a sick child
and a boss who schedules impromptu overtime. These affect the
individual and the entire family. How’s that for pressure?
Let me use myself as an example of challenges
faced everyday by nontraditional college students. I am considered
to be an adult student. In essence, this means I either graduated
from high school and stayed out of college for more than 10
years, or I “have a family, children, or a full-time
I made the conscious choice to attend college,
looking forward to earning a degree that would allow me to
get a good job.
I was determined to succeed: my grades and overall GPA is my
personal testimony of success. A twist of fate brought another
child, born this past January. I wondered if I could keep up
with five classes and still care for a newborn, a husband,
and raise two other children? How had I made it this far with
school, my husband, and children? I decided to consider what
happens in just a day in the life of an adult student—me.
While other adult students have similar dilemmas the choices
and chaos is almost identical and just as certain.
3:45 a.m. Awake in a daze, breastfeed, burp,
and change my 3-month-old son’s soaked pamper.
4:20 a.m. Close my eyes and try to get some
5 a.m. I wake to the morning alarm and say
my prayers. Fortunately the baby’s continues to sleep.
I turn on the computer, check email and campus pipeline while
reviewing my morning
checklist with my husband (who leaves for work in 20 minutes)
5:15 a.m. Take a shower. This is the only
alone time I will get all day. My parents come. My dad gets
a ride with my husband
to his job, and my mom, who recently retired and is my sanity,
the baby sitter/caregiver/nanny, gets settled for a long day
of child care. I kiss my husband. I won’t see him for
5:45 a.m. Get my 4-year-old daughter’s
things ready for preschool. Wake my 11-year-old; double check
any parent notices
that need my signature.
6 a.m. Refill the wipes, restock the pampers,
gather books for the day’s classes in my backpack, and
put it into my van (before it gets forgotten during the morning
6:05 a.m. The baby awakes—here we
6:15 a.m. Gently wake my daughter.
7 a.m. Prepare breakfast for my children
and pack a sandwich for my lunch. Still waiting for my nephew
who attends preschool
with my daughter downtown (he’s the third rider needed
for the zip lane so we must wait). Wash and clean the dishes.
I get out the water and electric bills to be paid this morning
before going to school.
7:20 a.m. My nephew arrives, my son gets
his backpack and jacket into the van.
7:35 a.m. Everyone kisses the baby and my
mom then buckle up the two four-year-olds, my son, and myself,
7:37 a.m. Drop off my son at the elementary
school then wait in 10 minutes of traffic to get onto the freeway
to hurry into
the “zip lane” and bypass the horrendous traffic.
8:20 a.m. Drop the two “babies” off
at preschool, sign them in, and kiss them goodbye. My daughter
hugs and assurance before I leave.
8:27 a.m. Head to the Board of Water supply
to pay the water bill, the Hawaiian Electric Company, then
up on Alakea to the
Municipal parking lot to “hunt and find” parking.
8:50 a.m. Feed the meter (only a three hour
maximum which means that I’ll need to feed it again before
my next class).
8:58 a.m. Meet my group for our class project
and pick up our camera from the Video Lab for our shoot.
11:58 a.m. Feed the meter (AGAIN); take
the elevator up to the Adult Service Center to confirm my registration
with my counselor.
12:15 p.m. Pick up the fall ’04 schedule
of classes and gulp down my sandwich while hustling to my next
12:23 p.m. Get into class and check my e-mail,
campus pipeline, and webct.
12:25 p.m.-1:55 p.m. Electronic Journalism
2 p.m. Meet with my professor to review
and edit stories for the Kalamalama.
2:45 p.m. Leave school and sprint to the
parking lot before metered parking time expires.
3 p.m. Mail my financial aid papers for
fall’04 and spring’05.
3:15 p.m. Pick up items to finish tonight’s
3:40 p.m. Pick up the two babies and head
4:20 p.m. Get home, kiss the baby, pump
out my milk, store the fresh milk in the freezer, and start
dinner while getting
the update of my baby’s accomplishments of the day.
5 p.m. While finishing dinner, try and watch
Channel 4 evening news for my journalism class quiz the next
5:20-5:40 pm. Check and sort through the
mail, play with the baby while checking my son’s homework,
sign a field trip paper and BREATHE before starting my online
class; my mom and
dad leave until their return tomorrow morning.
5:41-6:05 p.m. Dinner time. Clean up the
kitchen and put the kids in the shower. My husband takes over
with the kids.
6:20 p.m. Head to my computer for my online
class. Get ready for my presentation this evening.
6:30-8 p.m. Online class—present my project.
8:02 p.m. Take a hot and deserved shower
8:15 p.m. Time to feed, burp, and change
the baby’s pampers
before putting him down for the evening.
8:33 p.m. Check e-mail, campus pipeline,
and webct. Get to homework and reading for tomorrow’s
9:50 p.m. Get into bed, read my bible, and
give thanks for surviving another day.
10:20-10:35 p.m. Doze off to sleep and hopefully,
throughout the night, depending on the baby.
remember when my life was so simple I had only myself to worry
about, but then how could I? The choices I’ve
made led to this point and will help me and my family in the
long term. The sacrifices made are always hardest when you’re
going through them. Many adult students I’ve spoken with
share the same challenges, some even more than others. However,
what we’ve gained cannot be taught: life itself and the
experiences that help me to exercise resiliency, perseverance,
and patience, to overcome obstacles not only with the books
but within the daily events of life.