It is a bold decision in itself to have plans and strategies that aim at graduating from college at an older age, that is, 30-40 years. However, the thought itself of the graduation day, the development in social level and the increased opportunities for employment are just a few of probable benefits that are bound to come along.
These benefits and the challenges in my way to getting to graduate are key motivation factors. They come in to make that which seems unachievable a reality. I am a first generation college student as my parents did not graduate past High School. However, for reasons unknown I never paid attention to the notion that I wasn’t supposed to graduate. One could say that, at a critical point in the life of each student they will ignore or embrace structural inequalities (Levine and Nidiffer, 1996). Motivation is a precarious driver to my personal and educational success. Motivation enables things to be done, challenges to be overcome and dissatisfying factors to be eliminated or minimized. With motivation, behavior will be ignited, energized, determined, directed and explained. This will mean that one will be capable of positioning him/herself in such a way that his/her targets, objectives and strategies will aim at delivering desirable academic achievement. Additionally, one could achieve great success beyond academic performance as education acts as a pillar or basic requirement for this success in later life. I believe a person is responsible for their own success, as stated by the great author, Henry David Thoreau (2004), whatever he says or does, he merely reports himself. One has to plan for his or her own future as well as success or otherwise, that will be the gate pass to failure.
With motivation therefore, priorities are set. The priority in this case is to graduate at the age ranging between 30 to 40 years. A person’s mind is set and determined to achieve those priorities on the basis of what matters most or is more important than the other. Based on the understanding of motivation as it will be discussed below, one will be capable of applying various motivational theories and goal setting strategies with the aim of boosting his or her personal efforts that one will direct to academic levels (Gorman, 2007). The discussion below gives subsections of the challenges, motivation, and the way goals will be put across in such a way that they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
Under the Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is identified that human beings are motivated by need. The desire to acquire that which they do not have is the number one motivation of achieving it. In this case, the student who will graduate when he is between the ages of 30 and 40 is motivated by specific factors. To some, this seeking of education at an older stage may be linked with self-actualization needs, other do it for esteem issues while some do it for security reasons such financial and job securities. The goal that individuals in this case set and implement are targeted at achieving and satisfying this own personal needs. They work to satisfy self-esteem needs or attain financial as well as job security.
Looking at the foundation of goal setting, almost all academicians are in support of the fact that a goal should be SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. In this case, in relation to a goal being specific, one to determine the degree one needs. A goal setting process will begin by identifying that one needs achieve a diploma, bachelor or master’s degree. From this point, establish the field targeted such as human resource, hotel and catering, engineering, education amongst others. At this point, after determining all this, the next point is to evaluate the desired scores on the graduation score sheet. This prepares him or her for the task of accomplishing the diploma, bachelor or master’s degree. When an individual aims at nothing, he ends up hitting anything. Everything one achieves must be worked for as things do not just happen. They worked for with determination and efficient effort. Therefore, one should be sure that he or she targets the best grade or performance for the chosen goal to pursue. For instance, someone pursuing a bachelor’s degree has to strive and work SMART to get a First Class Honors or an Upper Second Class Honors. On to being measurable, the goal in this case should be measured through the evaluations examinations and continuous assessment tests that are administered by the lecturers. With this, one is able to detect the direction taken in relation to the goal. One identifies the points to improve and is able to effectively work on the measurable points till he or she succeeds.
With regards to being attainable and realistic, as a student, one should identify the resources available and evaluate if they are sufficient in relation to the set goal. This will make the desired goal achievable. The resources in this case refer to available academic time, finances, time and personal capacities. There should be resources such as technology and access to relating books. This makes the goal attainable and realistic. Though goal setting is an essential aspect to motivation and being focused, it should be set in such a way that it does not pressure the student over the limits. This may be suicidal academically. Lastly, an academic goal should be under a given time frame. In this case, as an older student, one has to understand how his or her time has been spread out. There should be time to be with the family and other non-academic activities and then available time to allocate academic needs should be provided. When this is attained, the older student will be able to set decide the type of learning to undertake. It can be full-time learning, part-time or online mode of study. From this point, the older student selects the most convenient approach and is then advised on the duration to be taken in the achievement of acquiring of an academic certificate. All that entails working SMART towards achieving success according to the desired goal.
For the attainment of goals, one has to develop a positive inclination towards success. According to Kuh, there is nothing great that can be achieved with a negative mind (2005). Being positive entails seeing the challenges one’s way to achieving a particular goal, and then setting strategies to overcome such challenges. This means that, one has to identify the benefits and optimize on them and quit dwelling on challenges and the missing aspects. In this situation therefore, it is critical for one to understand the incredible advantages that one as an older students has. According to Kalambakal, (2004), she talks of her life as a student an older student and demonstrates at the experiences that she went through. Challenges for an older student entail or arise from the fact that at such an age one is expected to have completed schooling and concentrated on other aspects of life such ass family. Though there were challenges which in this case are intrinsic, for example low self-confidence, there were obviously more advantages that she was exposed to as compared to the demerits.
One of the benefits that one has over other students is that an older student will be more focused. Though worries such as how to keep up with school rigors, competing with energetic kids, living away from home, absence of parental advice and family issues may exist, there is still the aspect of a maturity that comes with age. Freedom is a very distracting and heady experience. However, as an older student, one has learnt through life experiences on how it can be managed. At this point in life, one is committed to academics which thus increases the attention and concentration span. Another benefit is about having a head start. This means that an older student has experienced various historical, economic, political and social changes over a long time unlike the younger students. This then gives the older student a lot of content to which he or she can relate to when a single concept is taught in class. Finally, the older student has experienced something very valuable, failure. As stated by Adams (2013), if you drill down on any success story, you always find failure and failure is a resource that can be managed.
When at this age, there is a chance that there is a career in store for one. Investing in education increases one’s productivity. The extra years that one will live will end up being much more fun as the education will be paying off either spiritually or financially. Another fact that may be overlooked is the fact that an older student has had an experience and tasted what the outside world is really like. As a result therefore, they understand the opportunities in the market and the cost of success. One has a clear picture of how sweet the fruits of education can be. Therefore, choices made and goals set will be advised by informed by realistic experiences and information.
While it has been painful in the past, negative experiences may be very essential to an older student. Being passed over in the event of a promotion and or being laid off in the office motivates the elder students. With such experiences, one is able to take the goals set more seriously. With this level of education, one is realistically going after the desires of the heart. He or she will thus be disciplined in coming up with the smartest goals in the academic experience. The last benefit to be discussed in this discussion is the ability to solve problems and make decisions. At such an age, an older student has adequate capacity to come up with solutions to factual life experiences unlike the younger students whose first option id to seek advice from the older people. This gives an older person a point ahead of the younger students who lack sufficient self-confidence, they have minimal experience with life challenges and they are easily discouraged along the way.
Time and Impact
According to Locke and Latham, (1990), they identified a motivation hub in goal setting which implies that there should be personal goals, self-efficacy, goal commitment and an external environment which in itself has goals that they have set. As discussed above, a student desiring to graduate at an older age has identified his or her capacities. With experiences in past events, such a student is expected to be disciplined which then determines how committed they are to acquiring quality and presentable certificates upon graduation from a college. Self-efficacy in this case will refer to the adequate resources that the student provides in order to attain the set goal. Bet then there comes a new challenge, the goals set by the college. The student has a duty to the institution. As a student, one should ensure that they adopt and follow the rules, regulations, policies and procedures set by the institution. This will influence the outcome of the goals. In this case, we are talking about setting goals that respect the work of the instructors and those that adopt and promote the cultures of the college providing the education. Discipline incorporates respect and adoption of the guidelines put across. The personality of a student should thus be structured and shaped in a way that every tutor and the college in general will term them as disciplined.
Failure and Success
As suggested by Locke and Latham (1990), an increase of the difficulty and specificity of a goal tend to increase performance. As stated earlier, being in college at the ages of between 30 and 40 is a challenge itself. Since it has those difficulties and its specificity has been discussed above, the students in this category are categorically motivated and will most probably attain the goals. The goals will determine the student’s choice by narrowing attention to the academic-improvement sector, increased effort, persistence in that the student becomes more prone to putting more efforts to academic work including overcoming setbacks and lastly behavioral cognition. Though the chances of failure are likely to be minimized by the fact that it is a hefty challenge, there are situations when it would occur. For instance, in case one underperforms in the continuous assessments and examinations, it should be adopted as a new challenge to overcome.
Lastly, it is of great necessity that a student has feedback mechanisms. Some of them can be through the assessments by the instructor which sheds light on how one performs. Younger students seem to have a better concept of the professors’ expectations. According to Jacobs and Hyman (2010), when a professor assigns a 4- to 6- page paper, he or she is usually expecting that the good papers will be more like six pages, this is called “filling in the space.” Is this true? A student should also interact with others to form mutual and beneficial academic relationships. In this case, they should share their intentions and goals during their college days and they should evaluate each other and this will be a constructive foundation for feedback.
Being in college at the age of between 30 and 40 is a challenge itself. Challenges in real human life have been identified by various academicians as to being a motivator. These challenges then motivate these students in their goal setting and its implementation bearing in mind that they will tend to be more disciplined and remain determined all the way to success.. There are benefits that come with being an older student such as tendency to be more focused and higher disciplinary levels. These benefits give an older student a point ahead of the younger students. The benefits enable an older student to work on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals encouraging and attaining great success in their preset goals.
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