If you’re a parent, it’s hard to make time for yourself. You tend to turn your life over to your family, making sure they have everything they need to go after their dreams. And sometimes, this means your own dreams get put on hold.
I was the same way. As a working professional and mom, there wasn’t much “me time” in my day. I worked, I managed my home, and I took care of my kids. I always felt like I should’ve been doing more to improve myself: become more knowledgeable, advance my career goals. So every year, on New Year’s Eve, I would make a resolution to do something for myself.
And every year, I failed. But then something changed.
I realized that putting my own development on the back burner wasn’t just bad for me; it was bad for my family, too. I needed to be at my best to take care of them and set an example for my daughters. I needed to show them that self-improvement wasn’t selfish; it was essential to real happiness. So, two years ago, I resolved to go back to school and earn my master’s degree.
Even after I made the decision, I was full of reasons why I shouldn’t—or couldn’t—do it. I’m too old, I don’t have time, I don’t remember anything from college, and, of course: technology, a four-letter word in my mind! (Fun fact: At my job, I hear these same excuses every day from other working parents who don’t know if they’ve got what it takes to earn their next degree. Spoiler alert: they do, and so do you!)
I always tell prospective students: if I can do it, anyone can. I moved from Poland at age 12, and I’m the first in my family to graduate high school and college. After years in the U.S. Military, starting a family, and being away from a classroom for 30 years, I’m now on track to earn my master’s degree in 2018, just as my daughter walks across the stage for her bachelor’s. The path here hasn’t been a straight line, but knowing how important this achievement is—to me and my family—has kept me moving forward, even if it was only baby steps at times.
This year, take the plunge. Resolve to get better, and smarter. Do it at your own pace. Wake up those learning muscles with a class that interests you, and go from there. Ask lots of questions and shrug off those old excuses. At 51 years old, I will tell you: it’s never too late, you have the time, your college skills bounce back, and technology is your friend!
Do something different in 2017. Make this year’s resolution about you.
About the author
Monika Maslen (seen above on a family vacation to North Dakota) is a Senior Manager of Online Programs at WPI. She specializes in programs in Power Systems, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Nuclear Science & Engineering, and Cybersecurity. If you have questions about going back to school or WPI's grad school options for working professionals, contact her or learn more here!