Diversity Dialogue with Kenia: Women’s Fear of Returning to College

Counseling an adult student 

By Kenia Cueto

While many adult women around the world are returning to college for a second chance at education, countless others are still reluctant take the first step. Reports show that recognizing their fears is the turning point for many women as they begin their academic journey to find a changed and more empowered person on the other side.

The fear of returning to school speaks to me very clearly when I talk to female students over the phone. I closely listen to the quality of their voices, heeding the strengths or softness of their tones. When we meet in person, I pay particular attention to their body language.

Some women show signs of confidence and assurance due to the most meaningful accomplishment of their life…raising their children. “It is my turn now,” they say. I love that sentence! Other women struggle with years of uncertainty regarding their identity and role in life, especially after their children leave the nest.

With multiple years of worldly experience strapped to their belts, why do some women carry a sense of defeat and lack confidence? Detailed in the 2008 study, Women returning to study: stories of transformation, by Associate professor Pauline Lysaght at University of Wollongong, returning women are not your “traditional” student. “The lack of worth attached to women in this situation is reflected in both informal and formal views of intelligence that are based on traditional beliefs about ability.” The study is supported by way of Howard Gardner’s, Multiple Intelligence Theory and its assessment on individual multiple subsets of strengths related to intelligence.

What does all this mean to the returning adult female student? Well ladies, you are not alone! I encourage you to read the study above by clicking the link. Take time to learn about your strengths and weaknesses by taking the Free multiple intelligence test.

Remember, fear is normal as long as you don’t allow it to paralyze you from completing your goal. Believe in yourself and take time to enjoy the new experiences that come your way as you will continue to grow and mature with every lesson you complete.

Have an experience as an adult student? Share it in the comments below.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

 “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott