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Married with Honors

Adult students with families make up a significant percentage of the current American college populations. People who put off their higher education in order to raise a family or start a career have recently discovered that a college degree is important to their future. If you are in this category, which is often called "non-traditional student," you will find that you are not alone. In many classes you will discover people like yourselves, completing an undergraduate degree in order to pursue a lifelong dream or change professions.

Of course it is stressful to be a full-time wife or husband and possibly a parent as well as being a full-time student. Many adult students try to juggle even more than those obligations, and hold full-time or nearly full-time jobs while going to college. As a result, The Honors Program and Merit Fellowship might seem like the final straw! But don't despair. Two of the most recent valedictorians were adult Honors students. One was a wife and other of two who went on to medical school, and the other was also a mother who waited thirty years to complete her college degree. Many other examples of successful adult students who have completed the Honors Program should give you courage.

Indeed, you can probably consider The Honors Program and Merit Fellowship a paid job. After all, you are receiving scholarship money to attend C. W. Post, and this probably includes scholarships from Honors and Merit. You are right to believe that you have earned your place in the programs, and that your academic achievement is, in part at least, paying your way through college.

Many adults who are returning to school after a long break are concerned about how they will handle a full-time program (along with family or business obligations) and whether they can do the work and keep up the 3.4 GPA. Of course you can! Your experience in the world has given you an edge, whether you know it or not. Most adult students are excellent contributors to class discussion. Your perceptions and self-expression have a maturity that faculty look forward to. Don't worry. Just do your best, and you will be a fine student. If you have not done written work for a long time, you might want to run your rough drafts past someone in The Writing Center (across the hall from the Honors Program) until you feel more confident.

Honors emphasizes the application of practical experience and reasoning to an understanding of issues and ideas. You will probably enjoy the seminars even more than the students who are closer to high school and less experienced in the world. They will enjoy what you contribute to the discussion.

What if you have family problems or necessities that cause you to miss classes? All students miss some classes for personal reasons. Just be sure that you call your professors to explain your absence and get the reading or homework assignment. There may be a time when you might have to bring a toddler or child to school with you. That's fine too. Professors are generally understanding about having little visitors, and there are plenty of students who enjoy short term baby-sitting in the Honors Lounge. We will be glad to help.

Family schedules and obligations may give you narrow windows of available hours in which to take classes. Work with your academic advisor to come up with a master plan. You might want to block your classes into an all Tues/Thurs schedule or all Mon/Wed. Perhaps mornings only would work for you. You know best. Among your obligations to the Honors Program, the Tutorial and Thesis will be the easiest components to schedule since they are independent study courses requiring you to meet your advisor only once a week, during "hours arranged." If you take your Tutorial in spring of the junior year, you can use the following summer to get a jump on the Thesis. With respect to Honors Core and Advanced Elective courses, try as much as possible to select courses that match your interests as well as your schedule. Being in the program should be fun!

As a member of the Honors Program, you are also a member of the Merit Fellowship, and you are required to attend five events per semester. At the beginning of each semester you should pick up the schedule from the Honors Program Office. If you find that you cannot work five events into your tight schedule, you might consider using evening events to which you may bring your family as guests. If this does not work, consider doing the volunteer service track working for a charity or organization in your neighborhood. If you are still having problems fitting in your Merit obligations, talk to Dr. Digby, who will help you find alternative events that you can do individually or with your family.

Since the Honors Program and Merit Fellowship is the premier academic program on campus, most adult students take great pride in graduating with Honors. Often the thesis is a stepping-stone to an excellent job or graduate school admission. It can be the most memorable achievement of your undergraduate career. Enjoy!