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Education: A family commitment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Beverly Mock
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Chief
As I sit and write this commentary I think about the homework sitting on my desk at home waiting to be accomplished. I am just three classes away from earning my master's degree and it has been a long road to accomplishing my goal. 

I remember many years ago being so excited to get my bachelor's and thinking I was finished with school at least for awhile but I didn't think I would take this much time to go back for my master's. 

After joining the military and earning my commission, I decided to look into a master's program but the commitment was much more than I thought I could handle - work, family, school... As most of you know just work and family takes most of your time but after 12 years my family and I decided to take the plunge and I began taking classes. 

I say we decided to take the plunge because it is a huge commitment for the entire family. When I am taking classes my husband and girls realize we will not be able to spend as much time together especially on the weekend when I spend several hours locked in my room doing homework. 

I have a friend who for the last 15 years has complained that he is not able to finish his degree. He has been two classes from his degree and has every excuse in the book as to why he can't take the classes. 

My sister was defending him just this weekend saying he has been trying to finish his degree and hasn't been able to. I corrected her and it surprised her at first. 

I know about procrastination, after all, I'm a senior captain down to the wire to finish my degree but I know it was my choice to wait. I had my reasons and take responsibility for that decision. 

I explained to my sister my reasoning for disagreeing with her. My sister is also taking classes, working full time and has a husband and baby. She has been working non-stop to finish her degree and has sacrificed free time and quality time with her family. 

She is doing this not for herself but like me, she is also getting her degree for her family but it is not easy. I told her that he could do the same thing if he wanted - she and I are so why can't he. She then understood. 

I don't think everyone has to have a degree. We all have our reasons for continuing our education or not. I'm just saying that if it is something you really want there is usually a way to fit it in. 

I never know where I'll fit in the extra hours, but I do and have been fortunate enough to meet all deadlines - admittedly squeaking by at times. 

Balancing school demands with the rest of your adult responsibilities is challenging - I don't think anyone will disagree -- though not impossible. I suggest before going to school, look at your goals to confirm returning to school will help you achieve them. 

Make sure your family is on board with the sacrifice and they understand the benefits down the road. Look for programs designed for adult students and consider going part-time, taking night classes or signing up for online classes, whatever works for you. Finally, come up with a schedule balancing study and family time. 

Ultimately, my friend needs to make a decision, does he want to make the commitment or doesn't he - if not, accept it and move on.