Thursday, October 24, 2019

Challenges Facing the Graduate Student Essay

The many challenges that face the potential graduate students may inhibit them from taking that first step to enrolling in graduate school. This paper will focus on personal challenges for this writer and strategies she will use to overcome them. Some challenges for this writer are working full-time, being financially responsible for others while maintaining a mortgage and family responsibilities. Time management and a novice regarding some computer programs also provide other challenges. Many obstacles have to be conquered in an effort to ensure success. Hardin (2008) contends these barriers often put her at a greater risk for being unsuccessful. The purpose for this writer entering graduate study is the hope of expanding her career opportunities to include teaching at the undergraduate level. Her motivation to return to school was two-fold. A divorce and a lengthy recovery following a work-related injury within a year inspired thoughts of facing the future being financially independent and wondering if the recovery would be without limitations to allow a return to bedside nursing. These life changes prompted soul searching and re-motivated this writer to pursue a graduate degree, a goal that had been set several years prior. As a graduate student this writer faces the challenges encompassed with being an adult. Over the past 30 years, there has been an escalation of students, primarily women, entering graduate study. According to Hardin (2008) the motivation for many women to return to school is usually centered on a major life change. These women usually return to college in an effort to support their families. Balancing commitments, such as work, life, school and other responsibilities create a stressor to the student and pose even more challenges. As the sole provider for two children and responsible for other financial costs that entail, this writer works full-time on the nightshift. Traditionally compensation on nightshift is more than traditional work schedules. Although financially this helps alleviate one stress for this writer, another stress is created, lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation, fatigue and sleepiness negatively affect function that often results in decreased productivity (Mulgrew, 2007). This writer believes working nightshift and facing the sleeping challenge poses a potential barrier to success. Based on 2004 statistics, approximately 15% of Americans work nontraditional work schedules (Chung, Wolf, Shapiro, 2009). Adan and Natale (2002) also found that the relationship between gender and shift work support the thought women are more morning types, preferring to retire to sleep earlier and rise sooner, which results in optimal mental performance. This writer believes this to be true of her. In an effort to meet the challenge of time management, she will keep an accurate calendar and prioritize all appointments, work schedule, and other commitments. Blocking out hours of the day to focus on schoolwork as well as ensuring enough sleep while pursuing personal goals such as exercise should encourage quality work. Procrastination is time’s enemy. A few minutes of effective planning will save time in the end. This involves a continual assessment and reassessment of priorities and activities (Spidal, 2009). Financial stressors also affect the graduate student. Hardin (2008) found lack of financial support may actually prevent an adult from enrolling in graduate school. The adult student often differs from the traditional student as her financial needs often include a mortgage and childcare. Working nightshift helps alleviate the financial deficit for this writer as nightshift pays a differential. Many nurses, including myself, will work extra shifts to offset the financial burden. Attending classes may inhibit the overtime opportunity, therefore smaller paychecks add to the existing financial load. A graduate student has to weigh the benefits of an education when after graduation her financial debt will increase (Morgenthaler, 2009). In an effort to minimize the loan amount, this writer researched loans and scholarships. She consulted her employer and found there were a few scholarships available in addition to education reimbursement. The scholarship amounts are monetarily limited. Some also require a commitment to continuing employment for a set number of years per scholarship. Despite these caveats, any amount of money is helpful to decrease the debt as well as ensuring longer employment. Another challenge facing this writer is she has never used PowerPoint in any arena. This may lead to a feeling of inadequacy. To neutralize this deficit she will ensure access to the latest computer programs for her papers, research, or presentation. Ultimately the amount of effort put forth by this writer to achieve desired educational results will depend on her overall motivation and dedication to her goal. Hardin (2008) has found that most graduate students are not prepared academically. This is associated to being away from the academic setting for a prolonged amount of time. Technological skills may be outdated or she may not understand the new computer programs. Conducting research and writing papers at a professional level may also be intimidating to the graduate student (Morgenthaler, 2009). Many challenges face this nontraditional graduate student as she returns to school. Although there are significant obstacles, this writer is optimistic about overcoming these obstacles by using the aforementioned strategies as she successfully completes graduate school.

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