Back to College: 4 Motivators for the Non-Traditional Student

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Back to College: 4 Motivators for the Non-Traditional Student

Back to College:  4 Motivators for the Non-Traditional Student

I was 32 years old when I decided to finish my college degree as a non-traditional student.

For the first ten years of our married lives, Stephen and I served as youth pastors. At the conclusion of that chapter of our lives, Stephen began working with a leadership organization, and I was at a crossroads.

I knew at that point in my life, I would either continue job-hopping with little direction, or I could focus myself and go back to college. This was a huge challenge, and to be honest, I lacked confidence. In addition, money was tight, but Stephen and I learned something a long time ago: “my dream isn’t the only dream that matters. And my job isn’t the only job that matters.” You have to champion one another’s dreams.

I will never forget driving to UTA the fall of 2001, sitting in a classroom with a bunch of 20 year olds and feeling a surge of nervousness and bewilderment. Armed with a new backpack, paper and pen, I had to quickly learn the unspoken rules of college. What an incredible experience! If I could do it, so can you.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I could never do that! I could never leave the safe shores of my comfortable routine to pursue the unknown chapter of an education I’ve only dreamed about.” But the truth is, you can. Here are four things that motivated me to go back to school, and I believe can motivate you too:

  1. Dreams should never die.

    Your dream is important to God. He doesn’t place desires in your heart so you can spend a lifetime ignoring them. Whatever that dream is, He can make a way. When money was tight as I ventured back into the college world, I was shocked at how God provided. Scholarship money was literally handed to me as I talked to professors. I even received money from an undergrad research paper that a professor entered into a contest. I had no idea this could happen for me. Those obstacles to your dream are not too big for God. Money, time or acceptance to a certain school can all fall into place when we step out in faith.

Psalms 126:1-2 – ”When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”

  1. Prepare for life’s surprises.

    Unfortunately life can bend in ways you never imagined. It could be the death of a spouse, the loss of a job, the downturn of the economy…the list can go on and on. An education gives you options. When life surprises you, an education can help keep you from completely crashing. I know beautiful women who have dealt with horrible situations, such as an unexpected divorce. Because of their education, basic necessities were not a burden and they were able to focus on their emotional healing.

  1. Education has no age limit.

    You are never too old to learn, and your life experience will be a benefit in the classroom. Yes, there will be a learning curve with technology; the software and resources available are truly incredible. Don’t let this intimidate. You can be taught; it just takes time (and some tutoring). I still laugh when I think about learning how to use a graphic calculator. I was like “oh my, what in the world happened to the basic calculator?!” Even with all the learning curves, if you continue to show yourself faithful in your commitment, God will be there to meet you and honor your work!

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

  1. Ripple Effect.

    I am a first generation college graduate for my immediate family. The day I walked across the stage was one of the happiest days of my life. I cherish the memories of seeing my family champion me to the finish line.  I know the championing does not stop with me. It is my responsibility to cheer on those who are next in line. The beautiful effect of going to college is how it can inspire others to do the same. This is one of those events that can change your family tree.  It can be a repeat occurrence and not an isolated event.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The journey of going back to school as a non-traditional student is not always easy. There will be times you will be tired, exhausted, and feeling like it will never end. There will be friends who will champion you, and there will be people who back-handedly mock your dreams.

Don’t let naysayers silence your dream. Let your dream silence your naysayers.

If going back to school is something you desire, this is my prayer for you: Jesus, you see this beautiful dream and desire. I pray for wisdom and direction will clearly known. I pray for courage to keep going, keep studying, and keep dreaming during the journey. I pray for good friends to come along side them to speak words of life. I pray they believe in themselves and know who they are in Christ – a person of worth and value to you and to others! In His Name.


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Karen Blandino is a pastor's wife, Texan, mother and counselor. She holds a Master's Degree in Counseling from TCU and a Bachelor of Arts in History from UTA. She has served 14 years in education and is currently working on her LPC. She and her husband planted 7 City Church in Ft. Worth, Texas where they serve as lead pastors.

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Hello and welcome! I am a Texas girl and pastor's wife who loves Jesus, my family and life. I have a huge passion to share my personal life experiences (the good & the not so good), my love for pretty things and to connect with other women. I hope you feel community here and join with me as we journey through life. signature


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