192: When College Takes Longer Than Initially Anticipated

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College is supposed to be, as they say, the best four years of your life. Students get the chance to create new friendships, memories, and experiences. Some cruise through with minimal effort, while others find it a bit of a struggle. But one thing’s for sure; no two college journeys are the same. And for most undergrads, the thing that rings true is the idea of building a four-year plan: four years to graduate and get on with life. Yet, college life is never that straightforward, especially for first-gens. In 2016, Nationwide reported that the average student now takes 5.2 academic years to earn a bachelor’s degree. But for our guest for today, Dr. Eady, her off-and-on journey lasted nine years. 

How Spending 9 Years in College Shaped Dr. Eady’s Profesional Life – 06:44 

We all need to let go of the “attachment timeline.” An attachment timeline refers to the human tendency to compare our life progress to that of others or an idealized timeline for when to achieve success. The idea behind this term becomes toxic when a person does not accomplish said success in the estimated timeline. So, if you have an attachment to timelines, stop worrying about the future and just trust the process. What’s meant to be will be. 

Even after spending nine years in college, Dr. Eady believes the journey was all worth it because she now has a better understanding of how to deal with all types of students. Further, she’s now able to see potential in all students and motivate those lacking motivation. If she did it, everybody else could do it. Sometimes it’s not about how fast you can go but your ability to reach the intended target. 

Letting Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs – 10:10 

Do you have certain beliefs about yourself that depreciate your perceived value and potential that are not true? Have you ever asked yourself where these beliefs originate? Self-limiting beliefs are primarily built to keep us safe from perceived danger and are based on past experiences. And much of the time, they stem from our childhoods or our family of origin. Nevertheless, the thing about self-limiting beliefs is that they really just hold us back from pursuing success. 

For example, as a woman of color in higher ed, Dr. Eady found fewer people in her space that looked like her. This gave birth to a mindset where she felt like maybe she didn’t belong in higher education. Perhaps people with her type of background were not supposed to be in leadership positions. It was only until she looked back to how far she’d come and how many obstacles she overcame that she let go of the self-limiting beliefs. 

How to Find, Keep, and Appreciate a Mentor – 15:10

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you admire set aside time to share how they accomplished their goals, cheer you on, and give you feedback and advice? That’s what mentorship is all about: finding the right people who can pour into you and help you avoid some of life’s pitfalls. Mentors can put you in the driver’s seat of your career, empower you to pursue previously unimaginable paths, give you access to untapped opportunities, and teach you how to navigate the challenges you never saw coming. However, one of the trickiest things about finding a mentor is that it’s rarely formal, making it difficult to find an entry point. 

So, how can you go about finding the right person to help guide you to becoming the person you were meant to be? Well, it all comes down to what you want to achieve, emulating and finding an individual who’s also achieved similar success. Nonetheless, what can you do to appreciate someone who sacrifices their time to help you navigate through life? According to Dr. Eady, something as simple as a gift card or a bouquet of flowers every once in a while is enough. But in whatever you do, always ensure your mentor feels appreciated for the time they spend with you. 

The Benefits of Investing In Yourself – 22:55

We already know investing in yourself is one of the best returns on investments you can have. If you prefer investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself professionally, or even hiring a coach, it doesn’t matter as long as you give to yourself first before you can give to others. For Dr. Eady, investing in herself is first built around enjoying the peace of her days. As an introvert, she values her personal time. So spending time with zero external distractions helps recharge the batteries. And as a parent, spending time with family is a big part of what keeps her moving forward.

On the professional side of things, Dr. Eady loves reading and attending professional events and conferences. She believes that the value and potential you possess should be significant enough for you to give it the energy, space, and time to grow and create results.

Black Women in Higher Education – 31:25

Although there has been a significant increase in the number of Black women going through college, not many of them eventually transition into higher education. And the ones that do essentially go in for the wrong reasons– making more money. Dr. Eady believes that no matter your motivation for joining the higher education space, Black women should support each other. The higher ed space is full of opportunities that we all can have a seat at the table.

Dr. Echell Eady is a nationally certified Career and Education Advisor. Formerly the Vice President of Community and Economic Development for the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, Dr. Eady has developed strategies for reducing barriers and increasing adult student attainment of post-secondary certificates and degrees.  

Throughout her career, Echell Eady has served in a variety of higher education and workforce development roles.  She has been recognized for Outstanding Professional Service to the Career Guidance Center (Region 8), Illinois State Board of Education – Adult Vocational and Technical Education. She currently serves as Vice President of Instruction and Accreditation within the Tennessee Board of Regions system. In this role, she provides leadership and training for faculty and student services at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Murfreesboro. Dr. Eady is the proud mother of three sons: Tony, Ryan, and Ross. Connect with Dr. Echell Eady through LinkedIn.