Barriers, Resistance, and Challenges
As mentioned in my previous blog entry, my own personal barriers and resistance to changing my life and going back to school revolved around three main issues: the fear of failure, financial constraints, APA format, and of course the major challenges of keeping focused and time management. My mother has always said that even as a child, I was my own worst critic and my own worst enemy. Again, mama is right. How does the serenity prayer go? Change what you can; accept what you can’t…
The Fear of Failure
Around my fortieth birthday I got out my old Senior Book from high school. I had filled out this book during my senior year in high school (circa 1989) with my thoughts and memories to keep from that year. The very last page was were I would write about my future, and my one year, five year, and 10 year goals. I have to say that initially I was very disappointed in myself. Other than graduating from college, I had not met any of the goals I had set for myself. I felt like a complete failure. This was a time of significant self-reflection. Was I really a failure? And, really, what does and 18-year old kid know about the future anyway? An 18-year old’s view of life is much different than that of a 40-year old. The younger me viewed the road of life as full of rainbows and unicorns; but the older, and hopefully wiser me, knows that the road of is full of potholes and detours.
I began my self-reflection by redefining what failure met to me. Were the goals I had set back in 1989 as a senior in high school realistic, obtainable, or measurable? Or, were these goals part of my teenage magical thinking? Yep, you guested it, time to set some realistic goals. The older wiser me realizes that by not meeting my magical goals set as a teenager does not define me as a failure. It does, however, define me as an older, wiser, and more mature woman. Goals should be realistic, but subject to change. If a goal has not met, then I should ask myself why? Sometimes, an unmet goal is simply a lesson learned, or change in life direction to take the path least traveled.
Fear nothing! The only real failure would be coming to the end of my life and having a long list of should haves, could haves, or would haves, but I didn’t.
College was an expense, and grad school is even more expensive. So how do I not only justify spending that kind of money, but also how do I come up with that kind of money? Like everyone else, I have a mortgage and bills to pay. I struggled with the money aspect of going back to school for a long time. What if I graduate and can’t find a job? What if I take out loans and flunk out? What if I hate it? What if… The list of what if questions goes on an on.
My friend Grace helped me put the financial barrier in more prospective. We calculated that the average cost for obtaining the MSHI degree would be around $45,000. Grace pointed out that this is actually close to the average cost of a really nice car. The car will eventually depreciate, but my education and career will only appreciate with obtaining an advanced degree. The real investment is in myself, and my brain is a valuable organ; use it or lose it! Thanks, Grace, for the insight.
To pay for my education, I am using a combination of tuition reimbursement, savings, and student loans. The school also offers payment plans, but I have not used this option yet. I had my first panic attack just seconds after I had signed my student loan papers, but I have since resolved myself to the fact that I will likely be paying student loans until well after my retirement.
O.K., time to tell the whole truth, the one issue out weighing all other issues in causing my resistance to going back to school was researching for and writing papers, and APA format. I had nightmares about APA format while in nursing school. Back then, researching for a paper would include spending hours and days in the library, rifling through the card catalog, microfilm, and stacks of journals. The easy part was the actual writing of the paper’s content; the hard part was putting it all in the required APA format. I do not want to speak poorly of my high school alma mater, but the single semester of writing and the use of MLA format did nothing to help prepare me for college writing. The APA book that I bought during my freshman year of college might as well have been written in a foreign language for all that I understood of it.
After graduating from nursing school, a few friends and I had a burning party. We were celebrating our survival through, and ultimate graduation, by having a bond fire to burn old papers, care plans, books, and those hideous student nurse uniforms. The first item I threw in that fire was my APA manual. It made for great fuel for roasting marshmallows.
My first class in the MSHI program at UIC began in January 2011, BHIS 499. I had my second panic attack on the first day of class, APA format fears induced of course. I was pleasantly surprised after I finally calmed myself down and logged into Blackboard. Now, let me remind you, I graduated from nursing school in 1992, and completed my BSN in 1997. A whole lot has changed since then. BHIS 499 is a perfect class for someone like me who has been out of school for a long time. I thought I had died and went to heaven. Everything is online now; the library, the various resources and databases, and even the APA reference manual. BHIS 499 is a basic but necessary class. This class taught me how to access the online library, how to search for professional references, how to evaluate reference validity; and finally the class taught how to use proper APA format. Finally, I understand it! I am not always perfect with it, but the APA beast has been slayed!
Until next time…