Assistance for Adult Students at Parkland
Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 12:11
College is an extremely stressful part of any student's life. While trying to balance jobs, internships and other obligations, many students have difficulty finding free time. For adult students, making time to excel in college can be even harder. The term adult student refers to a student who is over 25 years old and is either attending college for the first time or returning to education in order to earn a degree.
One such student at Parkland is Samantha Gavin, 32, who is juggling 11 credit hours, two jobs and a family. "I started taking classes at Parkland to get a massage therapy license, but the classes weren't offered at the time I needed them. So I thought I should just take other classes," Gavin said. "I fell into school mode in my head and I didn't want to lose that drive." She is a self-proclaimed "education junkie" and teaches at Concept College of Cosmetology in Urbana. Taking classes at Parkland encourages her as an instructor, she said.
"I think that a lot of adult learners become distracted by their own busy lives," Gavin said, explaining some of the difficulties of being an adult student. "They work, have children, have spouses, or have other distractions. They might not have the time (for college) that a younger person might have." When asked how she balances classes with all of these distractions, her answer was self-motivation and a lot of prayer.
Paulette Johnson, 49, can sympathize with this, too. Johnson is a full time student majoring in special education for the hearing impaired. In addition to being a student, she is also a Student Ambassador and a member of ACCESS, a group for students with disabilities and allies. "A GED will only get you a low income level job; I wanted to do something more," Johnson explained. "Also, I love helping people. Since I have a (hearing) disability, I think I could do well helping people with a disability."
When Johnson first arrived at Parkland, she hesitated to enter the world of college students. "I got to the door and reached for the handle, and I took my hand down. I knew it was going to be a challenge," Johnson explained. "I did that a few times before I opened the door completely. I knew it was going to take a lot of determination, dedication, and willpower." Because of the amount of time away from school, many adult students such as Johnson have to relearn material they have forgotten over the years.
Johnson offers advice to struggling students. "Stay focused in school. A lot of things in your personal life can sidetrack you and it's easy to give up," she said. For help, she uses two of Parkland's services: TRiO Student Support Services and the Center for Academic Success. After earning an associate's degree, she plans to receive her bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University.
Parkland also offers the Adult Re-entry Center to help adult students. "We assist adult students in returning to college," explained Billie Mitchell, director of the Adult Re-entry Center. "What we find is that sometimes Parkland students return and sometimes university students who did not finish come in and find a way to complete an associate's degree. Maybe they already have a degree but it's not working out for their career." In addition to helping out returning students, the Adult Re-entry Center is also willing to assist adult students who are completely new to the college experience.
"We also work with ten university partners that have adult outreach type of bachelors programs," Mitchell added. These offer students the ability to earn a bachelors degree without having to leave Parkland's campus. These university partners are Eastern Illinois University, Franklin University, Greenville College, Millikin University, Olivet Nazarene University, Regis University Online, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Springfield, University of St. Francis, and Western Illinois University.Some of these options include classes on Parkland's campus, while a majority of them consist of online courses. For more information on these options, visit http://www.parkland.edu/arc/partnerships.aspx
This week, Nov. 7-11, the Adult Re-entry Center is celebrating National Non-Traditional Student Recognition Week. The week kicked off with a breakfast with the Adult Re-entry Center staff in Room C120. Tuesday featured a pizza dinner for non-traditional students, as well as Parkland staff and faculty members. Wednesday gives students an opportunity to meet the president in the college center between 4:30 to 5:00. On Thursday, 88.7 WPCD FM will be doing giveaways in the college center between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Friday ends the week with a scavenger hunt. The winner is to be announced on the Adult Re-entry Center's website and Facebook page.
Being an adult student is extremely difficult, but there are many resources at Parkland designed to help you succeed. For more information on the Adult Re-entry Center, visit http://www.parkland.edu/arc, call 351-2462, or stop by Room C120. For TRiO, visit http://www.parkland.edu/resources/trio.aspx, call 353-2267, or stop by Room A244. For the Center for Academic Success, visit http://www.parkland.edu/resources/cas, call 353-2005, or stop by Room D120.