When I first decided to go to college and get a degree, I had to type up an essay stating how I would find the time to do all the work necessary to accomplish this goal. I was applying to get into the Adult Student Accelerated Program (ASAP) which just meets one night a week for four hours. I honestly thought it would be a breeze! I tend to get lost in computer games after work as a way to decompress, so I figured all I needed to do was stop playing the games, and instead do homework. What can be so hard about that?
Well, my first indication of the immensity of the trek I had set out on was at orientation. The only fact that really stuck with me from that night was that although we only had class for four hours a week, homework and online requirements would take approximately 15-20 hours a week. Whoa! Are you serious! I don’t play on the computer that much. Where would the rest of the time come from? In tallying up the hours, I decided I could gain at least one hour a day during my lunch at work, and I guess I don’t really need to do anything on the weekend. That is if I don’t worry about laundry, housework and dishes. I could gain some more time, as well, if I don’t balance the checkbook and just send out payments as they come due. No, maybe I’d better keep on balancing that part of my life too!
Once classes started, my first class was speech. It’s a fun class, but it didn’t take long to realize that there was even more work to do than I had cut out time for! The 15-20 hours quoted was a very low estimate. I had to dig deep to come up with more time-saving ideas. The next cut was definitely the deepest. When adding up all the TV shows that my husband and I watch during the week it totaled 29 hours’ worth of TV, not including the occasional Netflix spree! Talk about an eye opener. Even though some shows were taped to watch later, that is still a lot of mindless entertainment. I had to make some hard choices. Give up Dancing With the Stars or Castle? Do I really need to watch The Flash AND The Arrow? Decision had to be made. Admiring Tom Selleck in Blue Bloods wasn’t going to get me a degree and no matter how fast the Flash moved, he was still taking an hour of my homework time.
So the cuts were made and I honestly don’t miss anything I “gave” up. Thus far I have made it through three speeches, an enormous amount of work in computer applications, four research essays, a full marketing plan, psych class and many, many quizzes and tests. Looking back on these ten months I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far! My house is still standing, the bills have been paid, I still have a job and life is good.
How did I balance all of that? The simple answer is, I just did! That may sound like an absurd statement, but it is true. Just like when I was a working, single mother, somehow everything miraculously got done. If you set your priorities and make a commitment to get that degree, it all falls into place. Commitment to do what it takes is the first and sometimes, the hardest step. Just remember to take a break now and then, divide the tasks up into manageable pieces, take it one step at a time and you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish. If I can do it, so can you!!
Written by: Sylvia See, Marion Technical College Student Ambassador and Adult Student Accelerated Program (ASAP) student