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5 Tips for Parents Going Back to School
5 Tips for Parents Going Back to School
It can seem a little intimidating to head back to school after you’ve already established a career and had children. However, you’re older and wiser than many of your peers — you have considerable advantages in maturity and real-world experience. Plus, you’re unlikely to let last night’s keg party interfere with an 8 a.m. class.
However, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a few pointers if it’s been a while since you packed a backpack. Here are five tips for parents going back to school.
1. Secure Financing
Are you a member of the elite 2%? You might not necessarily have amassed much wealth, but you’re very fortunate if your employer offers tuition reimbursement. If yours extends this perk, please take full advantage.
If you aren’t among the fortunate few, you have other options to pay for your education. Consider the following sources:
Grants: These offer the advantage of you never needing to pay them back. The federal and state governments provide some. Your college may have additional ones.
Scholarships: These often apply to students leaving high school, but you may find some depending on the degree you seek.
Student loans: Unfortunately, you do have to pay these back. However, they provide a means to fund an education you might not otherwise afford.
Military aid: If you served in the Armed Forces, you might be eligible for the GI Bill.
International studies: You might not want to study abroad if it disrupts your family. However, consider your degree. If you’re thinking about pursuing your doctorate, countries like Finland let you learn for free.
Another option is a home equity line of credit if you own your home. Please run a comparison before filling out your FAFSA. Many companies offer lower interest rates than student loans.
2. Get Organized
Going back to school complicates your life when you already have a lot on your plate. If you work and raise your children, you could scramble to get everything done in 24 hours. A misplaced set of house keys can throw your schedule off-kilter, making you late for work or class and souring your mood to boot.
Create a space for your school supplies and a designated location for necessities like your backpack or briefcase, cellphone and car keys — even your eyeglasses. It may seem superfluous now, but your future self will thank you every time you make it out the door without a hassle.
3. Invest in a Planner
Going back to school means managing multiple deadlines — especially if you also work. A planner is a must. Sit down at the beginning of every semester and chart vital due dates using your syllabus.
Then, take a week-by-week approach to your study schedule. Sit down on Sunday evening and plan your week, including time estimates for each task. Do you have a test coming up on Friday? Allot an hour each day to review your notes and quiz yourself on your knowledge.
Break larger tasks — like 10-page papers — into manageable chunks. That way, you aren’t left burning the midnight oil at crunch time. Another pro-tip? Eat your frog — tackle your most unpleasant scholastic chore first when you have the most energy. The rest of your schedule will look like smooth sailing.
4. Create a Quiet Study Space
Have you ever tried to study quantum physics while your little one tested the Newtonian ones here on earth by jumping up and down on the bed, screaming? You need a quiet place to devote 100% of your attention to your work. You’re in luck if you have a separate home office.
What can you do if you share a tiny apartment? A pair of noise-canceling headphones can be your best friend. A folding room divider creates a visual illusion of privacy, and you can hang a special “thinking cap” or blazer over it to indicate when you don’t want to be disturbed.
5. Rally the Troops
Can you work, go to school and raise a family as a single parent by yourself? Yes. Is it easy? No.
You need your support system like never before. If you’re partnered, start with your mate. Can you work out an arrangement where they’ll take sole responsibility for the kiddos during your quiet study times? Work together in making your schedule so that it’s fair to both of you.
If you’re solo, look into alternatives. Do you have relatives or close friends willing to lend a hand with the childcare burden? If not, you may need to investigate paid arrangements.
Some conventional daycare centers have limited hours. You might need to look into alternatives like Care.com to find a babysitter or nanny who can fix the little ones' dinner while you crack the books. You can also look to local sites like Craigslist and Nextdoor to hire a neighbor. Ensure you ask the right questions and ask them for recommendations — you’ll feel safer leaving your children in the hands of someone other folks nearby trust.
Tips for Parents Going Back to School
Going back to school can feel a bit daunting if it’s been some time since you’ve worn a backpack. However, your maturity and experience give you advantages over your peers.
Follow the above tips for parents going back to school to smooth your transition. You’ll enjoy your learning experience more while still saving time for the other aspects of your life.