Today’s economy and dismal job market has significantly increased the number of adults deciding to return to the classroom. In an effort to become more marketable in today’s competitive job market, many parents are taking the plunge and putting their noses back in the books. Heading back to school with children and familial responsibilities is a daunting task. So much so that just the thought of it discourages some and the thought of how to make it all happen paralyzes others from taking the first step.
Time management, childcare and the million-dollar question of how to finance an education are more than likely three of the top reasons some do not attempt to further their education. With careful planning, research and determination, these issues can be rectified and before you know it, easy Sunday afternoons spent channel surfing and tweeting will be replaced with term papers, and group work.
Technological advances have made going back easier than ever. Don’t have time to spend in the classroom and listen to a professor go on and on and on….while you doodle, then an online program might be best. Some people don’t have the discipline to go the online route but instead excel in the classroom. That is the beauty of education today; you have the power to control the medium through which to further your education. The key is researching the different options, picking the one that suits you best and sticking with it.
Are you thinking about going back to school? Below are five tips to get you thinking and the ball rolling.
Research: Seeing that you will probably be funding your own education and Mom nor Dad is prodding you into the profession of their dreams, what is it that you really want to do? Is this profession suitable for family life? Are you in an area conducive for such a career? Dreaming of being an oceanographer and living in Oklahoma will not do you a bit of good unless you are open to relocation.
Funding: Financial Aid and student loans are the most popular routes taken in financing an education. Few take advantage of scholarships, grants and other free money available for those pursuing higher education. Look for these opportunities. They are out there and millions of dollars go unclaimed yearly because people fail to pursue these avenues. They may take a little more work, but you’ll be glad when you’re not tens of thousands of dollars in debt. *sigh*
Use Your Time Wisely: Discipline becomes the name of the game. While you would probably rather participate in talks at the water cooler or spend an hour of your free time chatting, these are the times you will need to have your nose in the books. While working on my degree I would use my lunch hours to write papers or read. Yes, it was only an hour, but that gave me an hour to spend with my family once I got home.
Pace Yourself: So you have made the decision to go back to school and you want to finish in exactly TWO years. Don’t do it to yourself. With other more pressing responsibilities such as work, and family this may not be feasible for you. Most programs allow you five years to complete. I was determined to finish my MBA in two years, was taking three classes at a time working 50+ hours. I almost gave myself a nervous breakdown. I started taking harder classes by themselves and easier ones no more than two at a time. It took me three and a half years, but I finished..and the goal is to finish.
Have Fun: Yes, I said have fun. Learning at this time in your life is a lot different. With life, and work experience under your belt, you have something to apply your lessons to. You want to set an example for your children that learning is not this arduous and draining task but one that is necessary and ongoing in life.
What are your thoughts on continuing education?
Are you thinking about taking the leap? What’s holding you back?
If you’ve taken the plunge, please share some tips on how you’ve successfully been able to merge your school and family life.