The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

More students coming back to college later in life

By Valerie Edwards and Karen Gavis

For a new high school graduate, being in college can be a challenge, but adults attending college have other challenges to face, and many of them are taking those in stride.

The number of adults attending college has gradually increased, according to TCC’s office of institutional research. In 2011, approximately 20 percent of the enrolled students at TCC were 24 and older. This is almost a 5 percent increase from the number of adults enrolled in 2007.

With a highly competitive job market, people like Graciela Dormier are returning to school to better their skills or even to change careers altogether.

“Since I became unemployed, I decided to attend school in order to get a job that I want and will enjoy instead of settling for a job just to pay the bills,” said Dormier, a 40-something TCC sophomore.

Other students returning to school later in life have faced difficult challenges.

When Monty Daigle first enrolled at TCC in 2009, he had to drop out the next day because he received a call from Baylor saying a kidney was available, and he needed a transplant.

“They were keeping a man alive until they could find a place for all his parts,” he said.

Daigle needed a kidney transplant because of polycystic disease that has affected several members of his family. The disease claimed the life of his mother and has also affected his brother, sister and daughter. One brother has not contracted the disease, he said.

Daigle said he had learned to live with the pain of dialysis and was staring death in the face but was at peace with it.

“No one in my family has ever been to college, and I felt like I owed it to my mother and the man that gave me the kidney,” he said. “I just want to learn.”

After recovering quickly, Daigle was up and driving again within 10 days although against doctor’s orders. Now back at TCC, he is pursuing an associate degree in teaching.

“I started out making A’s all the time,” he said. “The first time I made a B, I was depressed.”

Speaking with a quiet Cajun accent, Daigle said being on dialysis was not as stressful on the brain as college is. Overall, his experience changed him.

“I used to be an A-hole seven days a week,” he said. “But now I’ve got to pare it down to two days a week.”

Others such as Kayleigh Goodman chose to go back to school to be a role model for their own children.

“I want to get my teaching certification to complete my childhood dreams but also to show my daughter that even though you come across challenges in your life, you are still capable of living out your dreams,” said Goodman, a 24-year-old sophomore.

Dormier said the most difficult realization for her is the inability to separate school from her other life.

“Every day, I look at the whole picture: family responsibilities, household chores, attending classes, homework and self-care,” she said. “I schedule time to get my schoolwork done without neglecting my family, myself or my household chores.”

Attending school as an adult may have its benefits too, however. Determination and maturity may be a result of experiencing some of life’s hardships, Goodman said.

“I am more mature in many ways and realize how hard life can be without a degree, financially,” she said. “I know that just getting by is not working, so every hour of every course matters. No one is going to pay my bills, so I have to balance my time the best way that I can, and when everything is taken care of, I can study.”

Learning from personal experience is often an advantage for adults attending school as well.

“I have a treasure chest of life experience,” Dormier said. “I have had success and failure. I have raised a family and can now concentrate on getting my degree.”

Advice from Goodman and Dormier for other adults going to school can be summed up in just a few words: get organized, take advantage of the resources available on campus and never give up.

“Schedule time to study, and let everyone in your household know that you are studying and do not want to be disturbed,” Dormier said. “Make sure you have a designated place to study and have school supplies handy.

Dormier also recommends TCC’s learning centers and tutors, which are free.

“The tutors at the writing center, the math center, the science learning center and the librarians have helped me get back into the swing of schoolwork,” she said.

Goodman said students shouldn’t waste their time.

“If you are going to go back to school and take time away from the people who mean the most to you in life, then make it worth it,” she said. “Do your best and never give up. Always remember the goal, and don’t let anyone hold you back.”

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