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Student Story: Ismael

My Experience attending Central Coast College as a Parent

I’m a single parent in my mid-thirties. Attending school at this time in my life was a very difficult decision to make considering my kids, their ages, schedule and daily activities, and being out of school for 15+ years made me a little nervous. After gathering information from multiple schools in my area, I came across Central Coast College (CCC). It really seemed to fit my needs based on location, price, program, school hours and time it took to complete the course and graduate. After getting the OK and support from my kids and family members, I enrolled at CCC to start training for a new career.

I waited about a month to start school and I was nervous and feeling a little anxiety and pressure. I had so many things running through my mind trying to remember math formulas, reading, writing, punctuation, not knowing where I stood among my peers, education wise. I was hoping not to be too far behind after being out of school for so long. On the first day of school everyone was really quiet not really saying much not even their names–it was a good thing all of us were wearing name tags. I also noticed I was the oldest student in my classes including one of my teachers, which was a little embarrassing. I started doubting myself and thinking maybe I was too old to be in school? Maybe it’s too late for me to start a new career?

As the first period progressed and came to an end I was excited because it seemed easy. I really started to think school would be a piece of cake until I got HOMEWORK, and just like that one class after another HOMEWORK, HOMEWORK, and more HOMEWORK. I got homework on the first hour of the first day of school. I was hoping to have some sort of buffer zone of maybe a week or two before the homework started to be assigned, but I think it really helped me because I went from being insecure and full of questions to survival mode, and then all the stress and questions seemed to fade away, except for the homework.

By the third day of school I was so far behind from homework and projects that I actually felt like dropping out. I felt like there wasn’t enough time during the classes to help me understand the homework. I felt lost and confused. So I decided to really concentrate the remainder of the week by staying after school the third, fourth and fifth day–if at the end I couldn’t catch up or understand what I was doing in class, then the decision was to just drop out. Many hours passed in the computer lab and at home going to sleep at 2 a.m. every night trying to catch up and understand and cram all the information into my brain. Friday came sooner than later, and I realized I had not only caught up with my projects and homework but I was also doing my homework for the following week. So the pressure of falling behind and dropping out really pushed me to try harder, something I never did in middle school or high school. It gave me an edge over my fear of failing and not being able to accomplish what I set out to do, not only for myself, but for my kids and their future.

As the periods became days, and the days became weeks, time just seemed to pass a lot faster than normal, and before I knew it finals were around the corner and all my past pressures and doubts no longer existed. I was focused on my classes, my grades, my knowledge and what I could do to gain more and retain it for my future. Week by week my focus became my grades and what I could do to get them higher. By the second week of school it all seemed natural, the homework, projects and weekly tests seemed easy. My time is managed based on my homework, and now I can go home right after school and have a normal day with my kids and enjoy them instead of being frustrated and worried.

Has being in college been easy as a parent? No, it hasn’t, but it isn’t impossible. You learn to compromise with what you want and it becomes a lot easier. I went from being in school all day with no time for anything else, to having time to pick my kids up from school and enjoy them. I now have time to do my daily tasks and duties. At first it was challenging because I couldn’t find the time to do what I needed like wash clothes cook or even go buy groceries. My day was full of school work and projects but with time you learn to adapt. I now have time to do all that is needed. I even have time for the gym, movies, and to go out and have dinner, without the stress of falling behind because I know all it takes is a effort and perseverance.

The teachers at school are also great, full of patience, always happy to help after classes. They seem to always have time to help us if we need it. So I know if there is something I don’t understand, I can always count on them to teach me. And, the teacher to student ratio is about 13 to 1, so even during class we get the focused attention we need.

One of the main reasons why I didn’t attend college after high school was that I was a young parent and it seemed easier to just work because I didn’t have the time and I was financially in need. If I would have known that I could be a parent, attend college and be successful, I would have attended sooner. So for anyone reading this and wondering if you can go to college be a parent and succeed, I can tell you that you can do it. It won’t be easy but it can be done, but it will take everything you have to help you stay focused. What helps me stay focused in college is my kids and the idea of me failing not only myself but failing them–that I need this to help make their future a better and more encouraging one and also financially stable. So I hope that by writing this letter I can help somebody by encouraging them to attend college and not be afraid of the negative possibilities..

I would like to thank my family for the support and assistance they have given me. I would also like to thank the teachers for having the patience to teach us at our pace, and to admissions, the office staff and counselors for making my transition and enrollment an easy one. I would like to especially thank my kids for the unconditional love, support and motivation to become a smart old man in school.

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