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Chapter 21. Cramming for Exams and Other... > Returning to School Before the Twelf... - Pg. 226

Cramming for Exams and Other Fine Academic Traditions 226 in Chapter 5, "It's About Time." Rereading those chapters and using the techniques described in Chapter 12 can help you break down the emotional barriers. If a do-it-yourself method is not suffi- cient, working with a mental health professional or personal coach (as described in Chapter 7 , "Rallying Support from the Pros") may be the answer. Third, rearrange your life to get it done. Whether it's setting up a proper workstation and getting organized, doing some soul-searching about your priorities, changing your daily routine, or putting other responsibilities on the back burner, some degree of sacrifice is necessary in order to start and complete a doctoral dissertation. It's not going to get written unless it becomes a main focus of your life, both in your mind and in your daily planner and calendar. If you decide, for whatever reason, that you're never going to write your dissertation or thesis, then accept that fact and move on. Don't keep your life on hold forever. Quicksand! If the reason you're delaying the completion of your graduate coursework or dissertation is that you no longer want to go into that field, don't be afraid to admit that you've had a change of heart and move on to new pursuits. Worrying about a degree you haven't completed, and that you have no interest in completing, keeps your life in limbo and your self-esteem deflated. Returning to School Before the Twelfth of Never Gone are the days when college campuses were populated by nothing but 18- to 24-year-old stu- dents. Now, you're likely to see more than a few gray hairs among the jeans and backpacks--in fact, the gray-haired students are likely to be wearing jeans and backpacks themselves. Adults aged 25 and up are going back to school in record numbers--either for the college degrees they never earned when they were younger, for graduate degrees, or just for individual courses. Returning to school does wonders for your career advancement, income potential, and self-confi- dence. Plus, you learn interesting stuff. So what's keeping you from doing it? See whether any of these excuses ring a bell: "I won't fit in with all those younger students." Reality:It's very unlikely that you'll be the only returning student on campus, particularly if you select a school or program that encourages adult learners. Even if you do feel a little different, which is worse? Feeling a bit out of place or limiting your knowledge, career potential, and self-confidence by not venturing onto campus? "I don't feel as smart as I used to. My memory is shot." Reality:Sure, you may have spent a few more brain cells than the perky 19-year-old next to you in class, but that doesn't mean you can't learn. Your maturity, life experience, and genuine desire to learn (three things that that 19-year old may not have) will make up for any cellular breakdown. "I don't have time to go back to school."