Everyone is talking about back to school. It’s just that time of year. Tax free weekend in Missouri is coming up, parents everywhere will start prepping. Some of them will be teary eyed over a new school year, and some of us will be looking forward to that back to school coffee date with our mom besties after the kids are off to school. I won’t even start on all the unknown everythings in relation to the copious amounts of anythings having to do with COVID. It’s back-to-school time, but just not for my kids.
Last year, I chose to go back to school, too. I’ll be juggling my senior year of college at 33.
It was a big gulp of a decision. Between high school graduation and present day, I have filled my resume with an embarrassing college start, vocational school, motherhood, homemaking, an associate’s degree, and random jobs sprinkled with community involvement. I woke up one day and decided I needed more.
Since going back to school as an adult, it’s been challenging to balance my family life, personal life, and my education. It took a lot of emails to gather all my credits from previous classes. I researched different degrees that interested me and what I could do with those degrees after graduation. It was nothing like seeing your counselor in high school. There are so many options now. Colleges are everywhere, and your education can be flexible. You can find something that works for you and your family.
At times, I definitely felt out of place but never once did anyone make me feel bad for being a non-traditional student. As a matter of fact my academic counselor leveled with me, mom to mom, and told me she gets the struggle. She gets the sacrifice, and I felt seen. We’ve had to make adjustments from semester to semester, but I am doing it. I went back to school.
If that’s a decision that you want to make, here is how I jump started going back.
Fill Out the FAFSA
This is probably going to make me sounds like a school counselor, but fill that bad boy out! You have a family now, those dependents will help you quality for some grants. FAFSA is usually required for other scholarships too. If you are going to be a transfer student look for those transfer scholarships!
Plan Your Courses
Plan what each semester will look like. Use your academic advisor for this. Some courses might be busy ones, and maybe that’s more of a class to take in the spring instead of in the fall when finals are during the holiday season.
Study Wherever, Whenever You Can
Duh, but hear me out. As a mom we have time random pockets of time sitting at the park, waiting in a pickup line, or even when our kids at practice. Bring your backpack (yes you get to pick any kind you want) and hit the books. You can do this. There is time, we just gotta make and find it.
Use a Calendar
Those assignments and due dates get their own dang color on the family calendar. You won’t overlook them, you can better prepare your time for them, and your significant other will be aware too of what’s going on.
I know. It’s a mystical word for us parents out there, but learning makes our brains tired just like it does for our kids. Make it a priority.
Communicate Your Situation
Keep emails going with your instructors. Ask for feedback — tell them this is a new odd chapter for you. Let them know if your family has special needs, and be honest with them. This was particularly useful last semester, and I was incredibly grateful that my instructor understood my needs.
Take the Extra Credit
Goodness, do this! It comes in handy when it’s offered. It’s grace when you didn’t sleep well before a test because you had a toddler foot in your face all night.
Let your friends and family know about your goals. They are going to be cheering for you every step of the way. Take them up on their offers to help watch kids while you study or attend class. Look for support groups, and find peers like yourself. People want to see you succeed.
If you want something, go get it. If you have thought about going back to school or even enrolling for the first time, go see an academic adviser.
Don’t get too frustrated. There WILL be snags. Some credits won’t transfer, some dates won’t line up, and some classes will be full. But do take it one step at a time, even if that means one class at a time. It will work, and you will be proud of yourself for taking the leap.