Returning adult student fights self-doubt to pursue degree online

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Christi Zentner
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I decided to take the plunge back into academia after an 11-year hiatus and two babies. Beyond scared is an understatement. As I evaluated my life and where I was compared to where I wanted to be, I knew I had to jump back in. I originally went to school to become a registered nurse during the first round in college.  I ended up hurting my back while working nights at a nursing facility to pay my way through school.  I was already too far in my schooling to completely change my major, but couldn’t continue nursing because of the severity of my injury. I got a general Associate’s of Arts degree and told myself I would go back later when I found my passion again.

Fast forward to now. I adore my children and want to show them how strong a woman can be. Criminology has always spoken to me, but I never thought I was good enough for that profession. I had every self-doubt you can make up or think of: everyone was smarter than me, more professional than me, had longer and better careers than me. But finally something changed.

I came across a local university that is public and had an online option in criminology and criminal justice. With tears I made the leap for the first time feeling a glimmer of the independent woman I knew I could be. I felt a level of hope I hadn’t dared to feel in a long-time – like I had a path, a purpose. Don’t get me wrong, my children give me so much fulfillment in my life and a level of love I never knew possible. Finishing my degree and starting a career was not only unfinished business and something I wanted just for me; it was also an example I felt I have to set for both of my children.

I am writing this as I enter my senior year working towards my bachelor’s degree and it is such a needed reminder. I have countless nights where I am up until 2 a.m. doing homework just to get up at 6 a.m. to get the kids off to school and go to my 8 to 5 job that is an hour commute away. I do wonder at times when I feel stretched so thin I could break, why am I doing this? Then I remember all my thousands of reasons and like magic, I pull this unknown strength I didn’t know I had to push on. I hope this blog helps give you a little extra push to remember through one more 2 a.m. night, one more commute, you’ve got this.