Yesterday I was introduced as superwoman to a fellow student. The speaker, an undergraduate student nurse, had remembered me from a scholarship meet and greet I attended in the spring and had been impressed with my line of study. But superwoman? I have to disagree.
I’m not doing anything different than any of the other students. I study, attend class and work on projects. I’m learning. The only difference is in the degree of scale – by working on two programs at once I am doing more studying, attending more classes and working on more projects. My difference is not one of ability (superhuman or otherwise) but of scheduling.
What she doesn’t see when she judges me by my completed coursework is all the things I let go to successfully learn the material. This, again, is no different than any other student because taking classes takes time. Taking 20 credit hours of classes in one semester takes more time (usually) than taking 12 credit hours in a semester. To make room for all that time and still have relationships with my husband and kids I don’t do some things I would like to do. For the most part I don’t have friends except for the friendships I have that exist within the confines of the classroom. I don’t watch TV, movies or other forms of entertainment except when it is something done with my family. I often don’t cook or shop for groceries. I don’t have a paying job and have let many of the things I wish I could do for Birthing Naturally go until I finish school.
The secret is to be organized and to prioritize. To me, coursework and travel are my big priorities because I will never have so much ability to learn this volume of material this quickly after I leave school. I don’t want to have to come back and restudy things later – I want to know them know. I don’t want to be working on my degrees for years, so I put the work into it now. Getting six weeks off to volunteer in Honduras probably isn’t realistic when I get a job, but I can do it now so I let go of other things and do it. It isn’t easy to let go of all the other fun stuff in life, but it is temporary – and it is only one way this can be done.
Some people think you can learn to be a midwife easier by doing the self-study method, but that isn’t necessarily true. The only thing you gain with self-study over classroom learning is the control over the speed you learn the material. You still need to learn the same things. You still need to put in the same work. This works for some women because they are willing to do several years of slow self-study while working at something else. For some women this method becomes harder because they don’t have enough variety in their sources of information – they do not end up with as wide a variety of skills as they would like to have.
Distance learning can work as a nice balance between the two, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is somehow easier than sitting in a traditional classroom. For some women it makes study possible because there are no programs available locally and they cannot move. For some women it is actually harder – I had one friend who tried distance learning for a year only to find it would not work for her family because she was too easily pulled away from her studies.
The point is, regardless of how you do it – or how long it takes you to do it – you will be doing the same amount of work. Once you accept that no matter how you approach it you will be working at learning, you can begin to make decisions based on what fits your family, time frame or finances best – not on what you think will be the “easiest” in terms of actual work.