Maybe you’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and now you’re entering the workforce. Or you may need help getting a promotion at work. You might have decided that it’s time to pursue your passion and start your own business. Or perhaps staying up-to-date with the latest technology in your field is a must. Whatever the reason, you’ve made the choice to further your education. But going back to school is fraught with its own set of challenges. After all, having children is a full-time job itself. Add in working, a spouse or dating relationship, and trying to run a successful household, and it can be overwhelming. And now, you’re going back to school. The good news is, when you’ve prepared your loved ones, done your research and counted the cost, going to school while juggling the household can be done successfully.
In 2015, there were 8.1 million students ages 25 and older, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This increase in the pursuit of higher education for older students means that people from all walks of life are attending classes. And that includes mothers. In fact, a 2014 analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research states that women make up 71 percent of all student parents. Mothers are choosing to add one more challenging role to their already-busy lifestyles – that of a student. It’s a decision that moms don’t take lightly, as it affects the entire household. There are a number of considerations.
Can You Fit It Into Your Schedule?
Is your schedule able to create a little breathing room for school, or is it maxed out with no space in sight? While all of us are incredibly busy, there’s a difference between being able to make it work and absolute chaos. Also, what will it mean in terms of spending time with the family? Is everyone prepared to sacrifice time with mom so she can finish her homework? There may be additional household costs to consider. Aside from the cost of schooling itself, will you need more help to clean around the house? Childcare can also be a financial consideration.
Where Do You Start?
Once you’ve determined that the household can sustain the change, it’s time to move forward. But where do you start? Although you know you can adjust your schedule to do it, where do you find classes that will work with your availability? Well, the world wide web is always open. Online classes are a popular option. From universities to online learning platforms, scores of possibilities for classes held via the internet exist. If you’re attending school at a physical location, you can arrange to take daytime classes while your children are at school. You can learn while they are learning. It may even forge camaraderie with the kids as you all do homework together after school. Of course, night classes are a preferred option for moms who have jobs during the day. And just as the internet has a smorgasbord of options, so do many institutions of higher learning. Going in to work early or working through your lunch hour may allow you to slip away to attend an afternoon class.
How Do You Pay For It?
Signing up for your course is still only part of the battle. Now you have to pay for it. While paying for childcare is a financial concern, affording college courses, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, is another issue all together. Although you may be in the midst of paying for private school tuition, sports fees, recitals, proms, school pictures and an assortment of other costs for your children, there are still options available for you.
The school financial aid office is a good place to start. Is aid offered specifically for your area of study? Or maybe there is a work-study opportunity available. If you do a little extra work as the professor’s assistant, could that offset your tuition? Plus, the financial perk could pale in comparison to the work experience you are able to garner.
If you’re adding to your professional portfolio, your employer may be willing to shoulder some of the learning costs. Or better yet, your employer may have a program that rewards and pays you to go back to school.
Grants and scholarships are another way to offset tuition costs. Studentloanhero.com and Collegeamerica.edu are just two websites offering hints on money up for grabs to moms who are going back to school. Educational tax credits can also be an incentive to take those classes you’ve been eyeing. Although you are responsible for paying up front, the tax credit can help with the numbers when tax filing time comes.
As moms, we put our kids first. That’s important. But it’s also important to pursue your own passions and accomplish your goals. Personify strength, grit and determination to your children, as you take the leap to learn while they learn.