College are working full-time jobs, multiple part-time jobs or have other full-time obligations while taking classes.
Counselor Sarah Boland said these students are not any more motivated or driven than any other students.
“Students are motivated by different things,” Boland said.
She said what sets these students apart is that they know they cannot do everything by themselves and are not afraid to ask for help. They also tend to be more organized than other students.
“It involves a lot of time management,” liberal arts major Roland West said. “It really comes down to that —time management.”
West is currently enrolled in 12 units while working 40 hours a week as a manager at Costco. He has classes five days a week and works six days a week. He said he is married with three children with another coming soon.
“I love my kids,” he said. “There is no such thing as no time. You will have time for who you love.”
West said he moved from American Samoa, a seven-island American territory southwest of Hawaii, when he was 16 years old.
While in high school, he said he had a good chemistry teacher who inspired him to want to become a teacher.
“My grandparents said that teachers don’t make much money, so I put teaching on the side,” he said.
Since then, he has been focused on trying to get a good job to support his family.
Two years ago he decided that finishing college to become a teacher was just as important.
He said he could go back to American Samoa and give kids what he had always wanted when he was a child — a teacher who he or she could look up to and talk to about academic opportunities.
When he enrolled at CCC, West said that he had to drop a night course and try to add into an earlier one because the original times were too late.
“I need to be fresh (to learn),” he said. “The class was late so the mental capacity wasn’t there.”
Recently, he said he had to turn down a promotion because it would rob time he needed if he wanted to continue to go to school.
“It was no longer about money but having no regrets — me doing what I want to do,” he said.
Even so, he said it was difficult turning down a well-paying position he had sought before.
But talking to a counselor helped him develop his schedule and decide what classes he needed to take, he said.
Boland is West’s counselor. She said she has helped many students with full- time jobs and multiple jobs.
She works with the students to find out which classes are “core” for their major and build their schedule around those classes.
She said most students generally overlook the amount of time needed outside of official class times for homework, reading and group study.
She helps students realize how much time they need for everything they want to do.
The students can then decide for themselves whether they can handle it all or need to drop or change some classes.
Boland said that while a student could stay up late and wake up early, that type of schedule is not healthy.
“We want the students to be happy,” she said. “School shouldn’t suck the life out of you.”
Journalism major Tashi Wangchuk said he moved to the U.S. from India in 2012.
Prior to emigrating, he worked at the Voice of Tibet radio station in India for about 10 years.
He said he used to go on web television and talk about sensitive issues.
“I’m struggling to locate myself. My passion is journalism,” he said.
He is trying to pursue a profession he can follow, he said. His goal is to receive a bachelor’s degree in journalism at a nearby university and maybe someday receive a master’s degree.
Even though he has a lot of experience, he said employers want to see a diploma from the U.S.
Wangchuk currently works a full-time job six days a week, reports for Radio Free Asia, takes classes at CCC and teaches the Tibetan language to children on Sundays.
He said oftentimes he is only able to sleep three to four hours during a 36-hour period, while some nights he can sleep six hours, depending on what is required of him by his job or course work.
He said when he has time out of work or classes, it is a challenge deciding what to do with his time.
“Do I do homework, sleep, shop or socialize with my friends?” he said.
Wangchuk said sometimes the professors who teach classes at night are not as good as the professors who teach during the day.
He said the styling of teaching worsens the learning experience for students who can only take classes as it is harder to stay focused, but it is not impossible to succeed.
“Often, those who have more challenges in life are more driven to be the best,” he said.
Wangchuk said while he has achieved a lot since he came to the U.S., it is not because of raw talent or skills, but pure motivation.
“I’m living my dream,” he said. “I house myself, feed myself. No financial support from the government.”
He is also helping support his family members still living in India, he said.