By Dr. Edward Mooney, Jr., Palmdale author and teacher at Quartz Hill High School.
Note: This column was originally slated to run in the Antelope Valley Press, but the author’s column has been canceled. He requested for his last article to published here as a service to his loyal readers.
Three years ago I slowed down in the writing of this column; I went back to college, and that proved to be quite demanding. Well, that experience is now over! On June 17th I completed the degree of Doctor of Education through Northeastern University in Boston – mostly online, with some classes on campus.
Here I am, back again, with Mooney’s Class. My first effort after graduation is an encouragement to those heading off to college, or back to college after a hiatus. In case you’ve forgotten, I lost my wife back in the early 1980s, as I was starting a doctoral program. I was left with three kids to support. It took me over 30 years to finally finish this degree (well, 27 years were empty of effort). I will readily admit how frightened I was back in 2010 when I first enrolled at Northeastern. So, how did I overcome the many obstacles? Allow me to share some insight about surviving college at my age, now 57, or, perhaps, at any age.
10. PICK YOUR SIZE. Don’t be afraid to bite off a big piece – but not too big. As Clint Eastwood noted in a movie, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I have a corollary to that – you need to know your limitations, but don’t underestimate yourself, either. Too many times we see our limitations as being too narrow. I did this. Find the middle ground between “too big” and “too little.”
9. WATCH YOUR TIME. Meeting deadlines is critical. Simply put, don’t get behind. Keep up with the work. Learn how to be more efficient in your school work as you gain more experience. Learn what matters and what does not matter. Also, learn to schedule your time better.
8. GET HELP. Ask for help. At first, I hated asking my professors for help. A few of them were the age of my older daughters! I quickly learned that asking for help made my life easier and clearer as I went through the program. One example was that of use every class to develop my dissertation research – don’t wait until all of your classes are done. That allowed me to finish the degree 6 months after I finished classes.
7. MOVE! Get up and move around. One thing I had not expected was how much I had to sit in the program. I gained weight and developed sore legs. Realize that you’ll be more sedentary for a while – and work on moving more! By the way, I’m attacking that weight gain again now that I’m finished.
6. FORGET AGE. Age is not a barrier to learning. I found I had certain disadvantages compared to younger students, such as things don’t come quite as quickly to me as they used to, but I also discovered one strong advantage – I’m more able and willing to not give up, to keep trying.
5. GET SUPPORT. Build a support group. Through my classes, and into the dissertation, I had a core group of great colleagues. These people encouraged me, gave me insight, and helped keep me straight on deadlines.
4. PICK YOUR BATTLES. Remember, your goal is to finish. Whenever you run into a conflict with a professor, ask yourself which direction will get you finished quicker – in a battle or in just doing it. The vast majority of the time, just doing it was the quickest.
3. IMAGINE. Imagine yourself being at your goal. On June 17th I smiled because I had imagined myself actually defending my dissertation and being told, “Congratulations, Dr. Mooney,” for the first time at the successful end of that meeting. It was as sweet as I imagined.
2. BE CHANGED. A real education will change your life. I learned more about writing. I learned so much in my ethics class, and that alone has changed me, along with a few other things. I will never forget the saying of the week, below. I use it almost weekly now. Ponder it for a while and see if it is not true. Is this not ethics?
1. PERSEVERE. How do I say this succinctly? Do not accept the concept of “quitting.” See it all the way through!
I hope this helps someone else as they start their college career, or resume it. Hey, I hope it helps learners at all age! Good to be back writing for you!
Thought for the Week: “Virtue is that place between excess and deficiency.” – Aristotle
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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