The Greatest Obstacles to Graduation (And How to Overcome Them)


woman at graduation, smiling, holding diplomaIt goes without saying that returning to school as an adult is different than starting fresh out of high school. At this point in life, it’s likely that you have work obligations, a family to care for emotionally and financially, and have limited time between the aforementioned items. So how do you juggle it all and go back to school? It’s a balancing act that requires practice and commitment. These are the biggest challenges our students face, and here are some resources on how to overcome them.


Many students listed finances as a challenge. Some students opt to take a break from work while studying, which understandably can create a financial strain. We recommend tightening up on your personal finances with some of these tips, searching for loan forgiveness options, and being intentional about finding what scholarships you can!


If only there were more than 24 hours in a day! It seems like finding time to do the things we love and need to do is a constant struggle in adult life. Prioritizing the things important to you is the most important thing. We’ve created posts on how to juggle school and a full-time job, balance school with family, and some free time management tools.


Some students expressed their struggles with the sheer amount of work going back to school requires. There are homework assignments to complete, tests to study for, and lectures to take in. Becoming an expert in time management will be the best step you take on this front. One SNU professor also recommends planning out your entire semester using the course syllabus so you can get ahead right away and not be in a constant battle to catch up.

Family Obligations

Your family and faith should always be paramount in your life. Oftentimes people say success means nothing without having the ones you love by your side. That being said, there will be certain sacrifices. Maybe you bring your notes to the children’s games to read during time-outs. What if you trade The Wiggles for a recorded version of your lecture during your commute? Find little ways to squeeze your studies in your everyday life and show your loved ones how important it is to reach your dreams.

Work Commitments

Sometimes cutting back hours or taking a break to go back to school isn’t possible. That’s why SNU shifted to the one night a week and online models of adult education. The key to juggling work and school is being up-front with your supervisor about what you can and cannot do. If you want to read more about balancing work and school, check out this article.

One thing is for sure: if you’ve started this journey, you have the courage to complete it. For times of doubt or struggle, the faculty, staff, counseling center, and chaplain at SNU are here to help. You can do this. We believe in you.

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