Returning to School as an Adult

By Julie Kraft, Vice President of Educators United

There are moments in life that make such an impact, they change the trajectory of your life forever. For me, that moment happened at a typical family dinner with my mom, my three siblings and our spouses. The conversation we had left such an impression that I think about it all the time. Growing up we always talked about our dreams for the future, we shared our deepest hopes and desires. That night, we were reminiscing on our childhood dreams and comparing them with where we ended up. We were all successful in our own ways, but none of us had the careers we dreamed of having.

I had an established career in the financial industry. My husband and I had just had our first child, we built a home and a stable life together. Life was good. At least, that was my perspective and I held fast to the idea that I did not need to go back to school. I came up with every excuse I could think of.

Then it happened. My little brother challenged me. He slapped me in the face with wisdom I never even knew he possessed.

He said, “Julie, you have worked ten years in a job you don’t even like. Imagine how well you would do in a career you love. You still have 30 years to work before you retire. Do you want to spend it doing what you’re doing now, or do you want to pursue your passion and have the best 30 years of your life?”

It left me speechless. He was right. That is all it took. My decision was made. I was IN.

The four of us made a pact, right then, right there. We were all going to make new goals to go back to school. We would study together and support each other through all of it.

I began researching colleges right away. When I found National University, I knew it was the right fit for my lifestyle. My chosen program offered online classes with a four-week platform. The flexible schedules meant I could complete the course work around my work schedule and home life. The expedited classes would enable me to finish my degree quickly.

I spent the next two years working full time, going to school full time, and taking care of my family (Check out my blog post “Overcoming Anxiety: Self-Care, Sleep, SilverCloud” to hear more about how I balanced all this). I woke up at 5am daily to study, worked my job from 8am – 4:30pm and completed assignments in the afternoon or after my daughter went to bed. I focused on the end goal and kept moving along. One day and one class at a time, I would get there. And I DID.

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, graduating as an NU Scholar with the Magna Cum Laude designation.

I am a first-generation college graduate. The pride and accomplishment I have from reaching this goal outweighs all the work it took to get there. My siblings are currently working toward their goals, as well. It all started with a conversation and a pact we made to strive for our dreams.

I am currently working on getting credentialed and obtaining a Master’s degree. My brother’s words have echoed in my mind at every turn. I learned new ways of managing stress, effectively managing my time, and prioritizing my goals. I learned so much about myself throughout this process and I am so happy with who I have become… a first-generation graduate, a role model for my daughter, the Vice President of a student organization, and an aspiring teacher.

If you have read this far, maybe you are considering furthering your education, changing careers or maybe you feel stuck (like I did not long ago). I encourage you to take the leap. It may be scary and intimidating, but trust me, it is worth it. Throw the excuses aside and take the leap, it may be the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself… it was for me.