The Winning Combination!

Sep 30, 2016Adult Higher Education

If you had told me on April 30, 1973 that I would be graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree on April 30, 2016, I would have said that was “totally unimaginable”. September 30, 2016 is my six month celebration as a college graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree. I can honestly say it has taken me 43 year to complete this lifelong ambition. At times, I have to remember “Oh yes, I have a Bachelors degree now”. The pain-staking journey to obtain that goal was a totally unforgettable experience.

The combination for success in college differs from student to student. Some students find success almost immediately. For some college prospects, it takes several years of trial and error to find the “winning combination”. From 1973 to 1992 I tried college three times and had a short stint in a vocational program. I couldn’t make it happen.

I invoke those who read this post not to be quick to judge a person’s intelligence and measure success by the number of letters after their name. In contrast, many have worked their ways into satisfying careers without a college degree. They are to be admired and respected. Career satisfaction and success are not always achieved through a college degree.

In comparison, I ask you to be encouraging and understanding of those who are earnestly seeking college success later in life. It is not by “accident” or chance of fate. Rather academic success often comes through years of life experience and varying factors too numerous to describe. For many adult students, the common denominator to achieving academic success is perseverance, tenacity and a desire earn a college degree that comes from deep within your being. Academic success is an intrinsic value that many discover and realize later in life.

The desire for a college degree is not a by-product of colleges and universities marketing to the vulnerable person who “needs a break” or by the supply and demand to fill employment gaps in certain industries. If a college degree is your desire, don’t be inhibited, distracted or confused by opinions on “Corporate Industrial Age” thinking versus “Information/Conceptual Age’ emphasis on technical savvy and creativity. Rather pursue your passions and achieve your life-long goal of an academic degree. Be proud of your interest and appreciation for traditional formal learning. Take pride in the fact that you made a personal decision to pursue your education after a long hiatus. Become a world changer!

My “Winning Combination”

Life experience. I found a job that I “loved” with a local healthcare organization that believed so strongly in their staff that they not only encouraged employees to go to college but guided them on their choices. I had the privilege of working with two dynamic individuals who were truly transformational leaders. They believed in guiding their organization to success by educating staff and allowing them to build their careers in the areas that they desired. When I thought I was “too old” for college, one manager advised, “Adele you will be 40, 50, 60 whether you have a degree of not, so get your degree”. Hence, I tried college one more time (my fourth college attempt) until I earned my Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management, Magna Cum Laude from Columbus State Community College, in 1996 at age 42. It was a small but significant victory which made a difference in my perception of higher education and myself.

The Right College Program. College is about learning intellectual foundations for careers, discovering new ways of thinking, completing challenging assignments, meeting and exceeding high expectations that enrich your life. One thing I discovered was that “I can do this” and “college is for me too”! The “status quo” had new meaning. Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio was the perfect fit for my goals, my career and my life experience. It was more than the institution and the academic program. I met an enthusiastic young HIM educator at Columbus State who desired to see me succeed. She instilled a sense of confidence and self-worth that I never experienced before. Like many of the adult students in this program, she as married, worked full-time had a young family and was pursuing a graduate degree. This Professor/Program Coordinator actually invited me to start classes before I enrolled in the program. She and another time-honored associate professor became role models and mentors to the HIM the students. It was the first time in my life that educators actually saw my potential, and encouraged me to pursue higher education. It was a life-changing experience.

The Right Time. Returning to college at the right time in your adult life will also help nurture success. The majority of adult college students are usually full-time employees, have responsibilities of being parents, providers, and care-takers. They wear many hats and regularly maintain and manage activities of daily life for their families, extended families and employers. Therefore, maturity, self-reliance and emotional intelligence are essential for success. My life was no different. When I was searching to return to college, I was married, had young twin daughters in elementary school, and I worked full time. The demands and pressures of everyday life took precedence.

In 2012 I followed my daughter’s footsteps and enrolled as an online student with Indiana Wesleyan University through the College of Adult and Professional Studies (my fifth college attempt) to pursue my Bachelor of Science degree. By that time I had reasonable work-life-school balance so I could focus on my studies. I felt a sense of peace and belonging to the Indiana Wesleyan community immediately. Undoubtedly, this was the right academic program for me. Like my previous experience with Columbus State, I was told I would succeed from the very beginning. I also had the encouragement of my academic advisers, student cohorts, my husband Roger, and our daughters who both graduated from IWU in 2014.

On April 30, 2016 I had the privilege of graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University, the School of Service and Leadership with a Bachelor of Science in General Studies with a concentration in Business Management at age 61. I earned a 3.88 GPA. This has shed a new light and significantly changed my career aspirations. I retired from HIM. Now I am a small business owner and enjoy working with the Columbus, Ohio business community. The accomplishment of this goal took 43 years of trial and error, but I finally found the winning combination for success as an adult college student: A job and profession that I loved, the right college and academic program, and aligning myself with positive people who believed in me. There is a winning combination for everyone regardless of your successes and failures. Have your discovered your winning combination? Even if you have not or are not sure, don’t give up. It is never too late to live your dreams, and finish what you started.

If I can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me at Aspiring adult college students, adult educators and mentors are welcome to join our Adult Higher Education Group on LinkedIn

About the Author: Adele S. Busch is the Owner/President/Managing Member of ASB Business Services, LLC. “Business By Personal Invitation”. Adele can be contacted directly at 614-477-2961 or via email:


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