When the kids were small, my husband finished his Bachelor’s and earned an MBA and remarkably, he seemed to balance the pressure of college and workload just fine, although I found it to be quite stressful living the single mom life every other weekend while he attended classes
I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to school, but honestly, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I also worry about managing my family while juggling college assignments.
My friend, Jen, recently graduated from USF with Bachelor’s in education and as Jen will testify, going back to school is not easy for moms especially when their children are very young. The greatest worry for many moms is whether they’ll be able to balance their family responsibilities with schoolwork. Some feel like they will be neglecting their family’s needs by pursuing a higher education.
But, with modern technology, moms can now pursue their studies online while still nursing their children. Balancing online studies and family responsibilities however demands proper planning and discipline. Listed below are some important tips for moms considering to go back to college.
5 Tips for Moms Going Back to College
1. Prepare Adequately Before Enrolling in Any Program
Going back to school will change your life completely. It will require your energy, time, resources, and commitment. Prepare a checklist of all the things you will require including a quiet and comfortable study room. The checklist should include a babysitter or daycare if you intend to study during the day. Get all the items on the list in place before starting your online degree. Pay attention to the location and environment in your study room to avoid distractions.
2. Explore all the Options
Colleges offer various options to their online and on-campus students. You can choose to study at night or during the day depending on your family’s schedule. For instance, if your baby sleeps well at night, enroll in a college that offers night classes. Compare different colleges in terms of costs and courses offered in the degree program you intend to pursue. If you have any existing loans, look at a student loan refinancing calculator to consider your options for repayment and/or adding more loan money, if needed.
Or you could decide to go for an online education to spend more time with your family. But, whatever you do, make sure that you only go for colleges with the proper accreditation. If you want to study nursing for instance, consider enrolling in Arizona State University’s online nursing program. An accredited online nursing degree will increase your chances of landing a position.
3. Follow Your Timetable Strictly
Jen returning to school at 32 was no easy feat. “I have 3 kids who became considerably more active as my school years passed. I’m not really sure if I ever found the balance with assignments , the kids sports, the kids homework, and being a mom and wife, but somehow it all worked out.”
When Jen first perused her college dream, she registered for classes during the day while her kids were in school. Once Jen entered the College of Education at University of south Florida, St. Pete in January 2015 for the last two years and most important part of her college journey, she attended class in the evening, which she found the most difficult.
Your preparation process should include creating a study timetable. Consider your family’s schedule and any other responsibilities you may have when preparing your timetable. Allocate enough time for each course in your timetable. Once you start your studies, follow your timetable strictly. Prioritize your studies and eliminate all distractions during your study time. Let your family know that you are unavailable during your study time.
4. Involve Your Family
Jen’s husband, Josh, was her biggest supporter and cheerleader, but her kids, Taylor, Noah, and Camden also played big part of her support system. “At a young age they understood the importance of mommy going to back to school and cheered me on along the way. They helped me with homework and were just happy as I was when I got A’s on tests and assignments.”
Going back to college will have a significant effect on your family. Talk to your family before you start your program. Share your timetable with them and let them know the times of the day when you will be available to spend time with them. Explain to your children how your studies will change their lives and help them understand the importance of advancing your career. You need your family’s support and cooperation to succeed in your online studies. Otherwise, you will always be anxious about their feelings and well-being.
5. Have a Support System
While there were so many key players that helped Jen complete her degree, she confesses she could not have achieved her dream without her family and friends. “It really took an army for me to go back to school. [Families and friends] always reminded me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Some have told me that I’m crazy for wanting to be a teacher, maybe I am, but I want to make a difference. I want to help our future believe in themselves. I want them to dream big. I want them to GO FOR IT! In the words of Kid President: I want to “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”
Be realistic about the upcoming changes. You cannot handle all the responsibilities alone. You will need help with your kids, cooking, and cleaning among other chores. You will be too tired to study if you do everything in the house. Ask for help from your partner, parents, siblings or a babysitter. Your study timetable should guide you in identifying the hours of the week when you will require help.
While Jen attended classes on campus during the day and in the evening, online learning enables moms to advance their career without neglecting the needs of their families. If you are considering enrolling in an online nursing program or any other online degree, the tips outlined above will help you balance your studies and family. Going back to school will require discipline and some adjustments but eventually, everything will fall into place.