Returning to College; or, The Hero’s Journey (Act 2)

Hero's Journey: Initiation
One daunting stage of the hero's journey entails enduring the obstacles of being a working adult in college—but it also has great rewards.

Act 2: Initiation

The Hero’s Journey, Act I: Departure is here.

Our hero’s journey so far: After leaving your comfort zone, you’ve accepted your call to the adventure of re-enrolling in college, met your trustworthy guide, and set out on your path to completing your college degree.


The her's journey entails obstacles.Tests, allies, and enemies

This is the stage of the journey at which our hero confronts trials and obstacles, builds relationships with trusted friends and supporters, and faces down certain foes. Our clever Odysseus takes on the Cyclops Polyphemus and later Scylla and Charybdis. Katniss partners with Rue and the aptly named baker Peeta to fight off the other Hunger Games contestants. Lilo tries to teach Stitch to be a “model citizen” (like Elvis Presley!) while Stitch is pursued by mad scientist Jumba and Agent Pleakley.

You too will face trials of mental and emotional endurance. Those tests may come in the form of actual exams as well as papers and projects. You may face faceless foes, such as lack of motivation or not having enough time to get everything done

But if you study well and are willing to ask for help, you will prevail! And although you may feel alone at times, you actually have many allies and tools to help you. Your ReUp Success Coach is always available to provide expert guidance and support. You can also seek out campus resources, from professors, tutors, and academic advisors to financial aid, career, and counseling staff. And don’t forget your support network of classmates, friends, family, bosses, and colleagues!

Soon, you’ll learn who you can trust, who supports you most, and who or what might block your way forward. And that is a valuable lesson in itself.


The approach to the innermost cave

In any hero’s journey, fear of upcoming obstacles and setbacks is inevitable. For example, Beowulf defeats Grendel—only to discover that Grendel’s momster is lurking in the depths. The Fellowship of the Ring enters the desolate Mines of Moria, where they soon encounter a fearsome Balrog. And Harry, Ron, and Hermione get past three-headed Fluffy before they have to play a most dangerous game . . . of chess. 

As an adult learner, you might enter your own caverns of self-doubt, uncertainty, and isolation. You might feel like an impostor or lose confidence as you complete your coursework, practice presentations, or prepare for midterms and finals. This is where developing a growth mindset is crucial for success. It’s all about plucking up your courage and maintaining resilience before and after you experience challenges.  


The ordeal

We have arrived at the crisis of our hero’s journey. And often, it entails sacrifice. Odysseus must endure a harrowing trip to the Underworld, where he learns his mother died while he was at war. Luke, Han, and Chewy manage to rescue Leia . . . only to lose Obi-Wan during a duel with Darth Vader. Katniss must fight off the other Tributes as she grieves the loss of little Rue.

This is the point in your journey to graduation where you might stumble. You may be frustrated by a particularly challenging course or semester. You may be feeling guilty for not spending enough time with loved ones and friends. You may start to resent having to juggle school, work, and life. You may be suffering from chronic worry and stress.

As you confront your own ordeal, this is the right time to commit to self-care and ask for help. You may also have to tap into your reserves of strength and determination to resist the temptation to leave college again.

But why keep struggling? Why continue your hero’s journey? Because you’re going to reap . . .


The Hero Earns Great RewardsThe reward

By facing down fear and even death, our intrepid hero receives treasure or discovers some elixir—perhaps some insight or magical power. For defeating Grendel’s mother, Beowulf is awarded treasure and the throne of Geatland. The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion earn their trophies, and Dorothy is promised a hot-air-balloon ride home. And every hero learns that they can survive seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

As an adult learner, slaying the dragon of even a single course in college means expanded knowledge and improved skills. You’ll also be building your network as you connect with instructors and classmates from various backgrounds. And you’re growing by building resilience, responsibility, and other soft skills, like communication, teamwork, and organization. 

Learning new things and learning more about yourself and what you can accomplish? Those are some pretty magical powers!

But that’s not all! The true climax of our hero’s journey is yet to come . . . 


Ready to earn the rewards of your journey?

If you need expert guidance to help you navigate your own heroic journey from re-enrollment to graduation, your Success Coach is a mere click away. Ready to meet your mentor?