Dean’s message: Staying the Course

Michael Frasciello PortraitOne of the most challenging things about studying part time is the effort it takes to get to where you want to be. Whether you’re completing a college degree you started or starting the degree you always wanted, it can feel like the task is simply overwhelming.

Every year, I meet students attending Syracuse University part time—online and on campus—who say the hardest thing about completing their degrees is staying with it. It’s not the rigor of their courses or the demands placed on them by their faculty. Rather, it’s almost always about life getting in the way. For “non-traditional” students, life has a way of shifting our priorities, requiring us to make difficult decisions about the investment of our limited time and precious energy.

For part-time students—particularly students with family and work commitments—I call these moments “hitting the wall.” I hit the wall when I was working on my master’s degree. My wife and I were both working full-time, had a 4 year-old running around, and another little one on the way. My commute to campus was 120 miles round trip. Four nights each week I left work, drove one hour to campus, attended class, then drove back home with just enough time to say goodnight.

I hit the wall halfway through. I convinced myself that I just couldn’t do it anymore. The commute, lack of time, job demands, tuition and books, gas and parking … so many valid reasons to stop out.

Well, they were valid reasons to me. For my wife and my advisor, they were signs of the stress that comes with being a part-time student. My wife reminded me that I was finishing my degree for me AND for my family. My advisor reminded me that school is hard—it’s a crucible from which you emerge transformed. It’s the realization that with every course you complete, you move closer to a goal that will completely change your life.

Those reasons were enough for me to stick with it.

As you make the decision to become a part-time student, know that University College is here for you when you hit the wall. Many of us here completed degrees part-time, so we know what you’re feeling. We also have an unwavering belief in you and your ability to succeed. We won’t give up on you, because we know the amazing things ahead of you as a graduate of Syracuse University. Trust me on this: you’ll never regret the decision to stick with it.

In your service,

Michael J. Frasciello, Dean