Is fear holding you back from starting an online degree program? Here's one way to deal with it.

Have you been thinking about going back to school? Maybe enrolling in an online degree program because the flexibility will enable you to pursue your degree while working and meeting your family obligations?

You've got a lot of company. According to the 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, even as overall higher education enrollments have shown a decline, the rate of growth in online enrollments remains extremely robust with 6.7 million students taking at least one online course.

But something is holding you back from signing up for that first course.

It's one of the most powerful four-letter words in the English language.


Fear of failure. Fear you'll repeat past mistakes. Fear of technology. Fear that you're too busy to find the time, or too old to try a new way of learning.

Advice about coping with fear

Any parent, especially of a teenager, knows that as much as you want your children to benefit from your life's experiences, the most effective way for them to learn and grow is by experiencing life for themselves.

That said, according to Oscar Wilde, "The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

Dawn McElveen, Saint Leo's director of student activities at University Campus, shared the following advice on the SLU Career Planning Facebook page when asked, "If you could, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?"

Regardless of your age, you might find some encouragement in her advice about coping with fear.

Here's what she had to say.

"Live not in fear, but with the hope that greatness abounds you."

"I spent years allowing fear to dictate my actions.

I've missed opportunities to travel, to meet new people, to find love, to obtain new skills, to further my career, etc., and all because I was fearful of the unknown – because I not only allowed my internal voice, but also the voices of others to quiet my curiosity.

There is a great deal of risk involved in allowing oneself to be vulnerable; however, there is also the potential for great success.

I recently met a woman who joined the army right out of high school, became a paratrooper, and completed two tours in the Middle East. I asked her why she made the decision to join the military, and her response surprised me.

She said that she has always run towards the things that scare her most because it's the most effective means of growing and developing as an individual.

How beautiful is that?

Granted, I'm human, and the fear still sneaks in from time to time. However, I find myself more aware and, therefore, more apt to confront the fear and change my path.

The next time you find yourself hesitating at a crossroads, ask yourself where the fear originates.

Is it intuition telling you that there is a legitimate fear? Or are you afraid of something else?




The unknown?

Consider what can be gained versus what could be lost.

Take a breath, and jump in with both feet.

There are no guarantees, as you may fail. However, the wisdom gained is priceless."

Was there ever a time when you were glad you pushed your fears aside and took a risk? When you decided to go back to school? Would you share your experience in the comments?

Image Credit:
Gilles Klein on Flickr/Creative Commons

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