By Lesley Neff, M.A. | November 19, 2018
Leslie Young knew she needed a solid, lifelong career. She wanted what all of us want… a good salary, job security, a reliable future, and health benefits! Not seeing any growth opportunities as a dental hygienist, she knew it was time to make a change.
Leslie’s end goal is to earn her nursing degree and work for a hospital. She reached out to some nurses, many of whom recommended Marian because of its accelerated 2nd degree nursing program. The program would prepare her for the boards, and she would earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. But before she could apply to the nursing program, she needed to finish her first bachelor’s degree. So last summer, she enrolled in the accelerated, online Health and Human Services degree program. Having earned her associate’s degree in 2001, and by doubling up on her courses each term, she’s well on her way to earning her degree.
Despite her passion and sacrifices, she still has moments when she doubts herself, but her wonderful friends and family keep encouraging her that she made the right decision. When she gets discouraged, having a strong support group is helpful. Leslie reminds herself “this is a lot of work now, but once this is complete, I am going to be happy I did it.”
Leslie explains that the most challenging part is “getting back into the study mode.” She hadn’t studied or written a paper in over 17 years, and had forgotten how. Since these courses are accelerated and offered in five- and eight-week formats, there is a lot of information to retain very quickly–making strong study habits even more important.
Although she cut back her hours when she enrolled, juggling work and school is challenging. Leslie has had to give up nights out with friends and is no longer able to live independently; she moved in with her brother and his girlfriend in order to save money. She loves going to the gym, yet there is little time to go; but when she does fit a workout in, it helps her cope with the stress. Leslie just keeps reminding herself, “this won't be forever”: Short term losses for long term gains.
I asked her, with all of the challenges, why stick it out and sacrifice so much? She responded, “I feel like I am accomplishing something, especially when I do well on a paper or project. My life had gotten a little stagnant, I felt lost, like I wasn't growing. Now I feel like I'm living again, and being productive.”
What advice would Leslie give to others who are thinking about returning to school or making a career change? She said that you really need to consider the costs and benefits of pursuing another degree or more education, as it “requires complete dedication… and would encourage others to ask some very tough questions”:
Are you happy where you are now?
Do you think you can continue with what you are doing until you can retire?
Do you want more out of life?
Leslie asked herself these same questions and quickly realized she wanted more. She shared that “I didn't just want to exist, I wanted to live. To be successful in this program, you have to have the mind set of ‘I'm going to give my best work’ and, ‘I want that A.’”
And, in order to be successful and get that ‘A’, Leslie stresses to give yourself enough time to work on the projects. Don't put things off until the last minute. Review all of the assignments for the week, so if you have questions, you can ask the instructor early. Schedule out what assignments to work on each day. It doesn't always work out, but at least you have a game plan that will keep you on task in a condensed program in which organization is key.
Leslie’s helpful hints must hold true; she is doing an extraordinary job and getting closer to her goal every day. If you are ready for a career change, reach out to one of our advisors at 317-955-6271 or visit us online at www.marian.edu/map.