The Adult Learner

Thoughts on the adult learner, and how to balance life… at work… at home… while continuing your education as a nontraditional student.

The Adult Learner

How’s it going? Smoothly or not?

Virginia M. Garrison, M.Ed., Director of Retention Services

 

This month the spring semester is coming to an end, and summer is quickly approaching. How are you doing in your courses? Are things running smoothly for you with no interruptions or disappointments? Are you laughing at that thought? If you are like most of us adults, there is always something happening that we didn’t expect! That’s part of life!

The important thing to remember is that no matter what happens, we need to keep focused on our goals in order to succeed. There may be setbacks along the way, but be encouraged. This too shall pass… hang in there. Remember why you began this journey! It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop! Keep moving forward toward earning your degree. It is an investment in your future.

At Belhaven University, we understand that many adult students have situations to arise that may discourage them. We want to assure you that you are not alone! There have been many others who have been concerned about being successful in school while working, raising a family, and handling many other responsibilities and the unexpected interruptions of life… and they have succeeded! We have thousands of adult graduates to prove it!

Our faculty and staff members on each of our campuses are here to help you. We will work with you through every step of the process from entrance all the way to graduation! If something happens that seems like a roadblock, talk to us. You are not alone, and you don’t need to be afraid of the unexpected.

As a Christian institution, we also believe that the Lord will be with you on your educational journey if you believe in Him, depend on Him, and lean on Him. He has promised to be with you, no matter what your circumstances are. Trust Him to help you!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  Isaiah 43:2

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.  Phil. 4:13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

 

 

 

 

Why Are You Enrolled In School?

There are many reasons for going back to school. A recent article from Eduventures* states that 40% of adult students are enrolled in school to advance their careers. There is another 30% who want to finish what they started some time ago. Those searching for a different career field make up 20% of the adult learners, and another 10% are lifelong learners interested in taking course work of interest to them.

Behind those reasons for going back to school is an individual story that each adult learner can tell. At Belhaven, we value those individual stories, and we are pleased to work with each student to accomplish his/her personal goals. Often the road to completing what was started is strewn with obstacles that at times seem impossible to overcome.

I remember the student who lived in her car but faithfully came to class. She graduated two years ago and is going strong in a new career. What a joy is was to work with her during her time at Belhaven. There was the military student who was called up to active duty. He did not let that stop his progress toward his goal of an MBA and he switched his studies to our online program. There are also very happy stories. We had two students who met and married while attending classes at Belhaven.

Belhaven is a special haven for adult students seeking to achieve an educational goal. Our faculty and staff are devoted to the success of each individual student. We recently conducted some focus groups with our students and found that they do feel valued as individuals and the one thing we heard loud and clear is that the Christian foundation of our curriculum is our crown jewel. Many told us how their spiritual lives have changed because of the Christian values expressed in every class.
Wherever you are in your journey and whatever has motivated you to pursue your education, we applaud you and stand with you all the way through graduation.

*Meet Today’s Adult Learners: A Guide to Segmentation and Storytelling www.eduventures.com

Traveling On The Sea In Ships

I was recently introduced to Psalm 107 – a Psalm of restoration and hope if there ever was one. In a nutshell, the psalm is divided into sections, each describing a sequence of (1) brokenness, (2) a calling out to God, and (3) deliverance by God. I was especially drawn to verses 23-32, partly because of what I feel is its application to working adults (and, therefore, our students), and partly because of what it teaches regarding suffering.
For all of our students, life happens while they are pursuing their degrees. For some of them, life happens with a vengeance – a child develops a terminal illness, a job is lost, a spouse leaves for “greener pastures” with little notice and no real explanation. I could go on and on. So, with that context, here’s Psalm 107: 23-32 (NLT):
Some traveled on the sea in ships,
and carried cargo over the vast waters.
24 They witnessed the acts of the LORD,
his amazing feats on the deep water.
25 He gave the order for a windstorm,
and it stirred up the waves of the sea.
26 They reached up to the sky,
then dropped into the depths.
The sailors’ strength left them because the danger was so great.
27 They swayed and staggered like a drunk,
and all their skill proved ineffective.
28 They cried out to the LORD in their distress;
he delivered them from their troubles.
29 He calmed the storm,
and the waves grew silent.
30 The sailors rejoiced because the waves grew quiet,
and he led them to the harbor they desired.
31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love,
and for the amazing things he has done for people!
An adult student is trying to make a better life for herself and her family by going back to school (carrying a cargo over the vast waters). As she makes her way through her coursework, she begins to see the goodness of God in her life (witness his amazing feats) as what she thought was not doable for her (returning to college) now seems doable. But then, things change. Severe trials enter her life. God gives the order for a windstorm and it blows incessantly (It’s interesting that God ordered the trials. Read How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D.A. Carson to begin to wade through that one). She mentions her need for prayer in class and to campus staff. She cries to the Lord in her trouble, and He delivers her from her distress. The noise of the storm quietens (or maybe God’s comforting voice becomes louder), things settle down a bit, and she realizes that, even though the skies may still be cloudy, God has brought her to her to a place of calm waters.
The beauty of the adult Christian higher education community is the privilege to walk with our students in their difficult times. It’s not that the whole process of returning to college one huge trial. As a former adult student, there is joy in the journey – much joy! But, life happens. And when it happens to a student who has added college to an already busy life, things can get really complicated. As education professionals and followers of Christ, it’s our calling to steady our students when they “sway and stagger” and rejoice with them when they reach “the harbor they desired.”

A Beacon of Light

As Christians, often times, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that we lose focus on the fact that we are handling God’s most precious gift – the human life.  We could learn a thing or two from Moses and how he treated the people of God.  We must be careful to treat each other as we should and not as we feel.  This truth became apparent several months ago when we encountered an emergency with one of our students.

Call 911!  Call his wife! Meet at the Emergency Room!  Hold the baby! It’s after-hours… but he’s our student!  In a time when he was most vulnerable, everyone raced to his rescue.  The student was completely baffled by the care and concern of everyone.  You see, his prior disposition had caused everyone to deal guardedly with him.

The next day, to our surprise, the student brought lunch and a thank you card for the staff to express his gratitude.  We were flabbergasted!  It wasn’t until we took the time to get to know the student that we begin to understand him. We had always reacted to situations but never really understood this student.  After the incident, he explained to us that he had suffered a traumatic head injury early on in life which severely affected how he dealt with his emotions. Like many adult learners, this student was bearing the burden of “life”.  He attended graduate classes, carried the weight of taking care of a wife and new  born baby while at the same time worked day in and day out to manage his own business.  He was overwhelmed!  But how would we know, if we don’t ask?  We’ve heard the old saying…you can’t judge a book by its cover…but many times we do.  It was unfortunate that this incident happened.  However, it brought about a realization that “people (students) don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care”.  We must be genuinely concern about the wellbeing of others.

This student has become one of our greatest proponents.  He has referred several students to Belhaven and now when we see him, he is wearing a smile.  The care and concerned experienced on that day left a lasting-positive impression on this student.  We have been given a special charge in Christian Higher Education…to be that beacon of light as we point individuals in the right direction.  Students should feel our prayers and support constantly as they maneuver their way through life.

 

 

Frozen

You may be thinking I am referring to the weather. Depending on where you physically live in the Belhaven network, frozen may be a good descriptor this time of year.

However in this case, I am referring to the Disney animated movie Frozen. If you enjoy Disney animated classics and films, or have any children in your life including grandchildren, nieces and nephews; or neighbors and friends children too, you are familiar with this phenomenal hit.

One of the themes in the movie has to do with the unique gifts and talents of one of the characters, Elsa the Snow Queen. In the beginning of the movie, Elsa is afraid to show her gifts and talents. She is afraid of being different. She is afraid people will judge her. She decides to hide herself and her gifts – even from her sister Anna. By the end of the movie, she realizes it is okay to use her unique gifts and talents for good and that people will accept her and appreciate her.

Have you ever experienced this at work, in class, at home, or in your community activities? Been afraid to share your unique gifts and talents? Afraid that people will judge you or laugh at you because you are different or special? Do you ever compare yourself to someone else wishing you had their talents? You each have special gifts that are all your own.

Each year our President, Dr. Roger Parrott selects a verse of the year. This year’s verse is Peter 4:10. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” The good news is that God made each of us special with unique gifts and talents to SHARE. The key word is SHARE. Use them (your gifts) to serve one another. I challenge each of you to discover and use your unique gifts, talents and strengths to serve one another. As it relates to your classes, you never know when your gifts and talents will truly help someone else.

I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU

“Mama, I want to be like you when I get bigger.” These words were spoken by my five-year-old daughter who was watching me in the mirror as I finished getting dressed for work. Though these words warmed my heart, these same words made me slightly uncomfortable. At the time, I was in a mad rush to head out the door because I had overslept. I was preoccupied sorting through my mental to-do list for the day and became completely overwhelmed just hours into a brand new day. I thought to myself, “This is not how I want her to be”. It was in that moment I knew I needed to take time for self-reflection. How can I self-improve especially since my little girl wants to be like me? Am I really the person that she sees on the outside? Have I done everything possible to set an example that shows who I truly am?
Self-reflection involves asking yourself thought-provoking questions so that you can develop a deeper level of understanding about yourself. The key to a successful self-evaluation is to be honest with yourself. I find it necessary to warn you that self-reflections can be uncomfortable and downright painful, but it is essential to change. Here are just a few questions I used to perform my self-evaluation.
• Are you at peace with yourself?
• Are you making the same mistakes over and over again?
• What habits would you like to quit? Why don’t you start today?
• Do you live for others or for yourself?
• How important is social approval for you?
• What is true happiness for you?
• If you could free yourself from one burden in your life, what would it be?
In this New Year, instead of making unattainable New Year resolutions, I encourage you to take a minute to self-reflect so you can become a better you because there may be someone who wants to be just like you!

Memories and Moments…

We are in the midst of another holiday season. Special lights, special food, special gatherings, special traditions—we are surrounded by reminders that some days are just, well, SPECIAL!

What do we remember from Holidays past? Do we remember a special gift? A special friend? A funny story about how this or that went wrong? What do we remember, and what will we remember for years to come? I bet that, with a few notable exceptions, we will not remember what gifts we received or what gifts we gave. No, what we will remember is how we FELT.

An oft-repeated phrase in business is that people rarely remember what we say but they always remember how we make them feel. This is the basis of true customer service in business, and lies at the heart of most of our relationships.

In every interpersonal interaction, we have an opportunity to make the moment memorable. With our words and our body language, we can make others feel welcome and appreciated, or we can make them feel unwelcome and unappreciated. How approachable are we?

For Christians, we have the great assurance that we can approach the Throne of Grace boldly, knowing that we are welcome and appreciated because of our relationship with Christ. We are never turned away, never a bother, never troublesome.

So as we make our way through the holidays and into a new year, let’s resolve to make memories with those around us. Let’s make them feel valuable, worthy of our time, and appreciated. Those are the memories they will never forget!

Thanksgiving Blessings

Virginia Garrison

Director of Retention Services

Thanksgiving Blessings

When you count your blessings at this Thanksgiving time of the year, can you include your college degree as one of them? Is that something that is missing in your life? Is it holding you back from the successful career you would like to have? Is it something you started but never finished?

 

At Belhaven University, we offer many programs for adults who want to add a degree to their resumé. Not only is an education at Belhaven an academic accomplishment, but it is also a journey of Christian spiritual growth for many students. Our instructors are all Christians, and our curriculum is taught from a Biblical perspective. So a degree from BU is a double blessing!

 

What are you waiting for? Don’t wait any longer. Get started now! Then next Thanksgiving you can add an “in-progress” blessing to you list!

 

 

13 Lies the Enemy May Say, but God Says……..

The life of an adult learner has its ups and its downs. The enemy has a tendency to attack one who is trying to advance themselves more than the average person, but we have tools to help us overcome. God’s word is always present and available to help us fight. This is why we must use his message, which is our double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), to fight the enemy’s voice.

Here are 13 things the enemy may say to us, but God says:

The enemy says: You can figure it out.

God says: I’ll direct your steps.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The enemy says: You are too tired.

God says:I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28-30

The enemy says: It’s impossible.

God says: All things are possible.

Luke 18:27

The enemy says: Nobody loves you.

God says: I love you.

John 3:16

The enemy says: You can’t forgive yourself.

God says: I forgive you.

Romans 8:1

The enemy says: It’s not worth it.

God says: It will be worth it.

Romans 8:28

The enemy says: You are not smart enough.

God says: I will give you wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:30

The enemy says: You are not able.

God says: You are able.

2 Corinthians 9:8

The enemy says: You can’t go on.

God says: My grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:9

The enemy says: You can’t do it.

God says: You can do all things.

Philippians 4:13

The enemy says: You can’t manage.

God says: I will supply all your needs.

Philippians 4:19

The enemy says: I’m afraid.

God says: I have not giving you fear.

2 Timothy 1:7

The enemy says: You are alone.

God says: I will never leave you.

Hebrews 13:5

Do not ever give up! Remember to use these scriptures as a weapon when the enemy tries to attack you.

Blessings,

Alison Gentry

What Are Your Gifts?

Adult Studies Blog: September 2014

WHAT ARE YOUR GIFTS?

Virginia Garrison, Director of Retention Services

 

We all have gifts… things we are good at doing… or that we have the potential to do well but haven’t fully developed. What are your gifts? Do they need development?

Do you like to work with people? Are you good at organizing? Maybe you have the gift of administration.

Are you compassionate? Do you like to help and encourage others? Maybe you have the gift of mercy and service.

Are you a “take charge” type of person? Are you good at communicating? Maybe you have the gift of leadership.

Are you good at explaining things to others and enjoy seeing them learn? Maybe you have the gift of teaching.

Do you involve yourself in ministry? Would you like to use that gift to its fullest?

There are too many possibilities to list in this short message. Whatever your gifts may be, wouldn’t you like to develop them further? Wouldn’t you like to use them to the best of your ability? Completing your degree could help you do that! Belhaven University offers many options, including business management, social services, health administration, leadership, Christian ministry, Biblical studies, teacher education, etc.

Why not give yourself the “gift” of education and reach your full potential? In doing so, you will also be helping others who will benefit from receiving what you have to give!

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

1 Peter 4:10

Belhaven University Verse of the Year 2014-2015