Tips for Succeeding as an Adult Learner
Push yourself …and Plan.

By Margaret Madigan ’19,  B.A. Communications and Media

I started college 36 years ago and never finished.

As a parent, I stressed the importance of college to my children and they all went. Two have graduated, one has two years left. When the youngest of my three children followed in her sibling’s footsteps and went off to college, I decided that there were just no more excuses, it was time for me to walk the walk.

“Come on girl, let’s go…” I said to myself.  

I was apprehensive, at first, but SUNY Empire State College couldn’t have made it any easier for this working adult to study (Besides of course doing the coursework)! During my time as a student, there were two main tips that kept me on course.

  1. Fight off inner demons.
    “There is no way I can work and get a degree at the same time.” How many times have you made this same statement when considering going back to college to finish or start for the first time? Yes, I said it to myself several times, but I finally told myself to stop being afraid and give it a try. That inner voice that generates those statements can be your own worst enemy. So, just pretend that inner voice comes from a fairy sitting on your shoulder and just flick it off! Pah-tink!

  2. Calendars are your friend.
    Although ESC allows the student to study on their time it is important for the student to schedule and use their time wisely. I believe planning is the key to succeeding as an adult learner and completing a degree. Set aside time to study, enter it in your daily calendar. Set alarms if you need to. And while setting that schedule, look over all your assignments and or workload for the week and prioritize. Due dates are usually the best measure for priority. Also, consider your home-life, work, or vacation schedule. If you know you have work travel, a vacation, or a holiday coming up, it’s wise to get a head to be safe.

I believe these tips were the key to my success. And if I can do it, anybody can!


I AM ESC is both a welcome and a deeply rooted sense of belonging. Here, students come first. Their success is supported every step of the way so they can go confidently into the world and put new skills and ideas into practice.

I AM ESC is a testament to our students’ resolve to do more, to be more, to achieve more. And it is proof that education, family, work and life can go hand in hand, and even enrich the academic experience.

I AM ESC captures the spirit of our students and statewide community. It reflects the talents, interests and diversity of the residents and industries critical to the state we call home.

I AM ESC is a rallying cry – an all-inclusive invitation to students to freely pursue their goals and to fully experience and continually shape our college and programs.  

I AM ESC is a statement of pride, ownership and accomplishment. It’s a celebration of where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going. It’s a guiding force and fundamental element of what ESC is and what ESC does.

I AM ESC is you. And we’re better because of it.