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Military Spouses and Staying Motivated with your Education

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Going back to school is a big life decision, particularly as a military spouse. If it's been a while since you were last in a classroom, finding your footing may be a bit daunting at first; especially if you are trying to balance work and family life in addition to getting your degree. Mix in the very real possibility of frequent PCSing and you just might be inclined to toss in the towel by the third round. Whether your path leads you to brick and mortar institutions or online degree programslike those offered by Ashworth College, staying motivated is extremely important while pursuing your education and key to your overall success as a student. There are several things you can do to maintain your focus while moving through your program and earning your degree.

Be as Organized as Possible

Maintain a solid game plan for working through your program. Know and understand the requirements you'll need to meet as you move through each course. Set deadlines and milestones even when they aren't predetermined by your instructors. Doing so will help you achieve a sense of accomplishment and accountability. Keep a tangible reminder of your goals. A calendar, day planner or a bulletin board featuring your goals will allow you to visually focus on your "to do's" and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Celebrate Small Successes and Milestones

With each milestone you meet, take time to celebrate your success. Whether you treat yourself to dinner with friends, spend uninterrupted time with your kids, or simply relax while tuning in to your favorite reality TV show, taking time to recognize and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, helps add to your sense of accomplishment.

Note to Self: Remember why you're doing what you're doing

You've clearly set big goals for yourself and your future. No matter what initially motivated you to become a student again, as we've pointed out, deciding to go back to school is a big deal. That means reaching the end of your journey will be a BIG deal. Don't forget to keep focused on your end goal. When you feel like you're losing motivation or you're rattled by a setback, take a few moments to remind yourself what you're working toward and why. Whatever your end result is, a dream job, moving your career to the next level or providing a better life for your family, don't forget why you're doing what you're doing!

Don't use Small Setbacks as an Excuse to Quit

Situations happen, finances change, illnesses occur and of course the inevitable orders come in for permanent change of station. Setbacks happen but it is how you deal with them, regroup and move on that contributes to your successes at journey's end. When setbacks happen, be sure to take advantage of the school support resources available to you. Whether you need to regroup when you PCS or you simply need study support for the one class that's got you stumped, keeping focused on your end goal, even if you have to push the timeline out a bit, will help you recover more easily.

Work with other Motivated People

Find and work with other motivated students in your program. Sharing common interests and end goals with others in your group helps you to maintain focus, rebound from setbacks and celebrate milestones you reach in pursuit of your degree. In fact, many schools including Ashworth College offer a variety of avenues for student support including FaceBook and Twitter. In addition to connections you'll make on social media, the Ashworth Community is a wonderful source for peer-to-peer support in each degree and diploma program we offer.

Work toward Finding a Balance

While you are in school, balance may seem like a dirty word. In fact, balancing work and family may be some of the factors defining your choice to return to school and whether you choose traditional or online campuses. Plus, you may wear multiple hats as a military spouse. When your other half is deployed, you're Mother and Father, chauffer and coach as well as a working college student. At the end of the day though, for many students, especially military spouses, balance is relative to experience. What counts above all else, is that you remember what is important to you outside of school. Whether balance for you means spending quality time with family and friends or catching up on a favorite hobby, make it a point to set time aside for self.

And Lastly, Don't Doubt Yourself

To paraphrase an infamous Saturday Night Live character, "You're good enough; you're smart enough and doggone it, that's okay..." We began this post with the observation that going back to school is a big life decision, and without a doubt it is.  You've chosen to return to school because ultimately you care about your future and the future of your family. Don't waste time wondering if you are good enough - know that you are, and own it.

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