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What are we afraid of?

What are we afraid of?

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Several nights ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting of prospective students all considering going back to school for an MBA. There was a short presentation on why investing in education is important and smart in this job market. There was a brief visit to a classroom where the enrolled students engaged in a rousing discussion on marketing topics while the prospective students looked on. A few faculty and alumnae were available to speak about their experiences. The evening ended with a short panel discussion where a current student, several alums, and a faculty member answered questions posed by the group.

There were a few general questions about logistics and work load expectations.  But it was very clear that there were really two questions: I have been out of school a long time; can I be a successful student now?  How will I balance my family, my job and now going back to school? These really are different aspects of the same question – Will I be able to do this now that I am not 20?

Most of us, particularly as we get older, don’t want to do things if we aren’t reasonably sure that we will be successful. And if we were not very successful the first time around, when we were students in our youth, why do we think we will be successful now that we are older and our lives are more complicated with work and family? I think there are several answers to this question.

When we go back to school as an adult with families and jobs, that’s how I got my MBA and Ed.D., we are more focused and motivated. We aren’t distracted by unnecessary details. We spend or energy on those things that are important. It might be on that even though going back to school is your primary goal, there are times it will take a back seat to family and work. We make decisions and tradeoffs that keep us going forward.

If you are considering going back to school now, don’t be put off by worry.  Find a school that serves adult working students and ask them how they support their students. Ask them about attendance policies and flexible delivery options. Ask them about financial aid packages and academic advising to help you create a schedule you can live with and then take the leap and enroll.