“The biggest limitation I would say is time. Being a nontraditional student is definitely a practice of time management. Everybody takes something as simple as mowing your lawn for granted, but when you’re putting in a 60 hour week it becomes something you really wish you had time for,” said Matthew Thomas, a 46-year-old Potomac State College student.
Thomas is a registered respiratory therapist and the full-time manager of the Respiratory Therapy Department at the Hampshire Memorial Hospital. He decided to return to college for career advancement, as well as personal achievement.
Thomas believes that he’d never be able to balance school with his job and personal life alone. He has the full support of his wife of 25 years, as well as his 23-year-old daughter Madeline and his 19-year-old daughter Jordan.
“I really couldn’t be doing this without my daughters. Madeline has her degree in English so I like to get her to proofread my papers. She likes to make fun of my grammar so it works out,” said Thomas.
Thomas believes that the hardest part of balancing his school, work and personal life has been time management. In addition to his homework and studying he is responsible for maintaining his home and taking care of his elderly parents. He is also expected to cover extra shifts, so there can be some overlap in schedules. Luckily for him, it doesn’t happen too often.
“I’ve found that as I grow older, my attention span grows shorter, but my priorities have always been my family,” explained Thomas.
Thomas said that scheduling has never really been a problem for him while earning his degree, but he has had problems with his willpower and focus. In his current stage of life, Thomas has the time and the means to do more activities with his wife, so school is not his main focus.
“I do not regret any of the choices I’ve made. If I could go back and do it again then I think I would have absolutely gotten my degree earlier– certainly before having children. But I cherish my family, and I have a great job. So I am pretty happy where I am, but my advice for traditional students is focus on your studies and earn your degree.”
Thomas said that he hopes earning his Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree may help him work in the field at a corporate level.
Thomas added, “The years in college are short, and they really do help form who you are as an adult. I would also say that grades are not everything, and learning is not just done in the classroom; experience as much as you can and take in the moments, good and bad, because time, well, time likes to fly away.”