“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off of the goal”

Written January 29th, 2010
Categories: You Can Do College
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by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

This quote by the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, is the mantra of the Non-Traditional Student (NTS). The goal is clear and well-defined – a degree or certification. However, the list of obstacles is long and varied. Here are some that I have heard over the last few months: too old, money problems, bad timing, have kids, would feel “stupid” or “out of place,” too behind on the technology, have tried before and not succeeded, spouse is non-supportive, there is a language barrier, don’t know how to enroll, and don’t qualify for college (e.g. GED).

What is interesting is the response of NTS to their own reasons for procrastination. That is, what did they think of all of those reasons now? When asked what advice they would give to a NTS who is in the “thinking” stage of returning to school, the unanimous response was “Just do it!”

Personally, my reason for putting off school for 5 years was … I was afraid of math. I didn’t think I would be able to do it! I kept checking with the Community College, reviewing the catalogues and course schedules, but the answer was always the same: I needed math. I had had such a poor experience with math in high school, that I was certain it would be my downfall in college. However, when I finally decided that I wanted the degree more than I feared math, I enrolled. Because NTS tend to be focused and purposeful with their studies, my college experience was vastly different from my high school experience. Bottom line: I “aced” every math course I took in college – from Basic Math to Pre-Calculus. Not only did I earn “A” s, but I actually liked it!

So, those obstacles really are “what you see when you take your eyes off of the goal.” When you return to college, your involvement with your own education is so different than the traditional student. Being aware of why you are there reduces the obstacles to grains of sand that will float away in the wake of your own determination.


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