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

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

Shatter Your Rear-View Mirror!

“The past is in the past!” –from “Let It Go” in the Disney movie Frozen

I have to admit something before we go any further into this post—I have a past. Although I am content with much of my personal history, I am certainly unable to claim that my past is pristine, and I can vociferously argue for keeping the past firmly in the past. I think most of society would agree with me for one reason. Delving into the past means the possibility of unearthing those things we have tried to forget.

They can include an “unfortunate” string of rejected invitations for a high school dance (check), being trapped by peers in a walk-in closet, coughing from the beautifully overpowering cloud of air spray sneaking under the door (again, check—this actually happened to me, and I somehow got in trouble for it!), or being overheard by the wrong person at the wrong time (a thousand checks). As you probably realize, though, I’m still only writing about events from my past that I feel comfortable admitting, but if I move a few mental bookshelves, I can find the dark corner where I store the memories I don’t want to remember.

Over time, we’ve all adopted some euphemisms to describe these things-that-shall-not-be-named: skeletons in the closet, dirty laundry, and baggage (to name a few), and I am no exception. Still, whenever I summon the inner strength to venture past the dust and spider webs to examine these mental artifacts, I think about the past that could have been and long for the present that should have been.

 

What if I had kept my medical school plans? What if I had taken that job? What if I had been a bit more honest and a bit more careful? What if I had extracted every ounce of potential from every critical moment? What if I had been spent more time with the kids? What if I had stopped asking questions earlier?

 

For adult learners, these kinds of questions are familiar. The empty spot on the wall haunts us, and the missing line on the resume taunts us. Furthermore, those of us prone to envy have a delightful time with social media #grassisgreener #sarcasm.

(Note: If you don’t understand the #statements, search “hashtagging” online. If you don’t know how to search online, ask some toddlers. You will be shocked by their prowess—seriously.)

Although each of us has a personal motivation for returning to college, every motivation is rooted in the past—the past of NOT being in school.  We want our future to be different, so we change our present to keep us from reliving our past.

So how do we get past our past? I offer some blatantly out of context advice that I’ve heard at least five million times, courtesy of my daughter. As Queen Elsa sang in Disney’s Frozen, just “let it go.”

More seriously, we should follow Paul’s example from Phil. 3:12-14 (NIV):

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we should all find a way to induce amnesia, but maybe we should neglect that dark corner in our minds. Ultimately, the so-called “baggage” of our past only has as much control of our future as our present thoughts allow.

So even on those long, tiring nights of papers and pencils, we don’t have much use for the rear-view mirror. Our past mistakes won’t write our papers or pass our exams, nor should they define who we are.

If you failed algebra, you are not a failure.  You failed a class.

If you lost a job, you are not a loser.  You lost a job.

What are you then? You are someone trying to change the future for yourself and those around you.  You are creating new opportunities from the lessons you have learned from your errors, and if your faith is in Jesus, you are a child of the King.

Put more succinctly, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

So while you’re thinking about it, break that rear-view mirror.  You won’t be needing it.

Life is a Team Sport

“…many hands and hearts and minds generally contribute to anyone’s notable achievements. We share, to a large extent, one another’s fate.  We help create those circumstances which favor or challenge us in meeting our objectives and realizing our dreams.” ~Walt Disney

I want to introduce you to an incredible friend of mine.  Her name is Denise.  She would be the first to admit, that she was NOT a runner.  She laughed that she could barely run half a block without getting winded.  Denise, her husband Hansen and another couple decided to run a marathon.  Once they registered and paid the money, there was no turning back.  The goal was set.  Now they needed a plan.  They purchased the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer which helped them lay out their training regimen.  With a plan in place, all they needed was determination and commitment to the plan.  They started in June.  The marathon was in October.  There were many days when one of the fearsome four didn’t feel like running or training.  They lifted each other up with encouragement and support.  I am happy to report they all ran in the Chicago marathon, and finished with respectable times.  The entire experience and the feeling of achievement were unbelievable!

Pursuing your education is a lot like running a marathon.  Although the activities are more mental than physical, the process is the same.  You set a goal for yourself – to complete your degree or pursue advanced education.  You laid out a plan that seemed to make sense.  Now comes the hard part – life happens – especially in adult education.  You have obligations to yourself, your family, your work, your church, your community and your friends.  Your best laid plans now seem obscure.  Don’t give up on your goal.  This is where the commitment and determination are paramount.  This is when you reach out to others who are in a similar situation for help, support and encouragement – your fellow students.  Just as Denise discovered, the training was tough – something she had never experienced before.  Through faith, determination and perseverance she stayed committed to the goal.  As she discovered, the end result was well worth the effort.  Your education will change your life.

Listen to Their Stories: Reaching the Hearts of Adult Learners

One of the core issues in adult education is the extent to which traditional students differ from adult students. It is a marketing issue in that we have to identify and understand the differences in order to package our message in a meaningful and relevant way. It is more complex than buying ads on the right radio stations or getting them in strategically targeted publications. We have to understand the subtle nuances that characterize both traditional and adult learners in order to reach their emotions or, perhaps more descriptive, their hearts. The extent to which traditional students differ from adult students is also a student services issue in that both groups represent different sets of life circumstances that we must understand in order to meet the needs of our students while they are with us and, ultimately, retain them through to graduation.

Here’s a proposed axiom that, for me anyway, describes the core difference between traditional students and adults and that may provide a framework that could drive our marketing and student services activities: Traditional students function in a “present” that is interpreted by the future; adult students function in a “present” that is interpreted by the past. As an adult education professional, here’s how this reality might inform what we do in reaching and retaining adult students:

·         Realizing that the past informs adults’ decisions to return to (and stay in) college, those who work in the admission and student services functions must listen to our students’ stories. For adult learners, these stories usually center on a crisis such as divorce, loss of a job, being passed over for a promotion, or some other type of loss in their lives. By taking the time to encourage discussion of the things that drive our students to us, we will reach their hearts and position ourselves to affect their lives.

·         Classroom experiences should be designed as safe places to discuss our student’s stories. At Christian institutions such as Belhaven, this can be done during a period of biblical reflection and prayer. As is true in our admission and student services processes, this type of discussion should be proactively encouraged by the instructor – realizing that this type of openness can set the stage for more productive curricular discussion later in the class. In addition, typical adult life circumstances could be intentionally woven into a lesson plan – discussing the effect of a personal crisis (divorce, for example) on one’s ability to lead in the workplace.

Ultimately, by making prospective or current students’ “stories” a priority in our discussions with them, they will perceive an environment that is emotionally safe and attractive, and we will have reached the seat of every adult’s decision making processes – the heart.

The Overcomer

Adults who return to school overcome any number of obstacles. Work, family, church, health, military and community service–all put demands on our limited time. I have come to believe that the single greatest thing that an adult learner MUST possess is determination. Many struggle with one academic skill or another, and many have to tackle new technology, but I have seen determined individuals overcome these things. The one ingredient that I have never seen someone lack and still succeed is DETERMINATION. The adult learner must set his or her face like flint and push ahead, regardless of what life brings.

Meet Carol Danley, Belhaven Memphis Class of 2014. Carol received the Belhaven Social Services Award. This award goes “to the student who best models Jesus’ ministry to those whom society often neglects.” Carol’s story is much more than one of academic excellence and community service. Like many of our students, Carol had to overcome health issues, death in the family, and any number of other challenges. Her academic testimony is amazing.

Carol has enjoyed a 35 year career in Social Services. Yet she was still compelled to come to Belhaven to complete her degree. Most of us, after accomplishing so much, would be tempted to brag just a little. Not Carol! In her words: “Belhaven presented me with a unique opportunity to fulfill a forty-five year dream.  I sat in faith before God daily. The profound support I received from my family and friends, the wise counseling and consideration of my professors and staff, will forever be embedded in my heart. To this day personal dreams have been fulfilled.  Success is not mine.  It belongs to God.  He kept me through it all.”

Amen, Carol. We know that Christ calls His people to be Overcomers, just as He overcame the world. And we know that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony, that Christ is indeed the Victor. One that day, we will cast our crowns at His feet, for He is the One who did it all.

Carol’s story is amazing, and is a testimony that, with God’s help, we can accomplish all He calls us to do. Look Carol up and get her story–it is inspiring. She completed her degree while also serving her church and community, and all while overcoming any number of health and family issues. She is living proof of what faith, determination, and a lot of hard work will do.
BelhavenU2014_20140516_0289_lowrez

Carol Danley receiving the Belhaven Social Services Award from Dr. Paul Criss, Dean  of Belhaven Memphis & Desoto