Change Can Be Daunting

Barbara LoweI graduated high school in June 2011, and I was so excited to be attending Penn State Abington in the fall. I completed four semesters, but during the fifth, unexpected family issues arose, and I was unable to finish my degree. While I was away from school, I taught myself how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and many other Adobe programs. I started my career in graphic design and print production, and I came to love it. I got involved in marketing for a medical spa, and I learned a lot. After meeting my husband, I realized that owning my own business was what I truly wanted. I was tired of being an employee. Working for a small business, I had received first-hand experience of what it’s like to run a business and manage employees, but I knew there was more for me to learn.  

When the pandemic started, I was not working, and it seemed like the perfect time to begin the process of going back to school. In the time spent away from school, I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida, and so I started looking at the local colleges and universities to see if my credits would transfer over. While researching, I discovered Penn State had a World Campus that would allow me the chance to work at my own pace, and during the pandemic, I’d be safe in my home instead of a classroom.  

Although I remained at the same institution, the course work and learning experience was completely different from in-classroom learning. I’d never taken an online class when I was attending the Abington campus, and it was a bit daunting. This new change — I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. I had been away from school for the last six years, and I was unsure that I could easily pick it right back up. I had always been a good student, and I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my grades up. Once the semester started, it took some getting used to logging into Canvas every day, reading a lot more than I ever did on campus, and being very disciplined when setting a schedule for myself and completing assignments on time.  

Having the courage to come back to school is the first step. Believing in yourself is the second and more important step. Change can be daunting and intimidating, and you may have self-doubt, especially if you’re returning to school as an adult learner, but it can be done.  

I joined the Student Advisory Board in my second semester, and in sharing my experience with the other members, I have learned that all the feelings of fear and doubt that I experienced, so many other students have felt that exact same way. I recommend joining a club or getting involved at World Campus. It’s a great way to meet other students, network, and build a support system.