DEAR HARRIETTE: I decided to go back to college after a 15-year hiatus. I'm excited and nervous all at once. I'm excited to go back, because I will be able to finish and get my degree. I'm nervous, because I do not want to quit this time around. I would like to develop an action plan to help me calm my nerves about going back to college. -- College Man, Queens, N.Y.
DEAR COLLEGE MAN: Congratulations on having the courage to pursue your education after so much time has passed. Deciding to complete your college education and position yourself for greater success, especially in this challenging economy, is smart. It's also smart for you to know that you should put together an action plan for success.
I recommend that you write out your goals, along with strategies for completing them. I firmly believe in writing everything down. When you record what has to be done, you have a better chance of staying on top of things.
Use a calendar to create a timeline that includes all the deadlines you are aware of from school. Assign alerts to key deadlines so that you have support in developing the discipline for success.
Find out if you can get an adviser or mentor at your school who can support you as you navigate this new territory.
Your drive to get your degree can be your fuel for when you sometimes feel overwhelmed. You can do it!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I think your advice to "On the Fence" about developing a relationship with a woman who is three months pregnant by a man who is in prison for two years was great -- as far as it went. However, I think you need to add that "On the Fence" needs to consider this: What if he and this woman -- and, in six months, her baby -- become a family? In two years, when the child is 18 months old, is he willing to face the prospect of dealing with an ex-convict father who is pressing for visitation rights? -- Thinking Ahead, Washington, D.C.
DEAR THINKING AHEAD: Great point. Whenever you become family with someone who already has a child, there's the likelihood that you will have to interact with the other parent. Indeed, constructive interaction is a positive thing, because it shows that both parents care about the child. But when the parent in question is an ex-convict, there's the chance that the road to peaceful interaction could be rocky, primarily because that parent was literally unable to be present while in jail.
I think that "On the Fence" should consider all factors relating to what the family composition may look like and what the challenges may be with the biological dad before he decides to step into this loving bond. It is complicated.
Quite frankly, it would be best if the biological dad, though in prison, were made aware of the development of the new family unit, so he isn't met with a surprise upon release.