Going Back To College As A Parent

It’s never too late to go back to school and continue your education. That being said, having to study whilst juggling the role of a parent can make it a lot more challenging. I’ve been tempted, over the years, to take on an online course but I will admit, the commitment to a two or three year part time course seems daunting. I’ve taken on smaller online courses with accredited certificates at the end spanning max three months. Even that felt like a large commitment at the end. I am however juggling the idea of completing an online writing course specifying in journalism to add another string to my bow. If you have kids and are eager to return to education, here are a few tips that could help to make things easier.

Get support from friends and family

Having people around you who are able to support you is important when taking up education as a parent. As I said, the commitment is huge but the commitment to your family is obviously greater. With stress and fatigue bouncing around the ball court of study and family life, support is necessary.

Having people around who can babysit such as a partner, family members or friends could give you your space to study. If that’s not possible, you may be able to still hire a babysitter through a site like HireSitters. It’s also important that you have people around you to motivate you when you feel like you can’t face studying. As one of the worlds best procrastinators, I know how much I need my motivation cheerleaders in life. By letting the people around you know how much it means to you, they will be more willing to offer their support. And a box of donuts or two won’t go amiss either.

Look into financial support

Studying with kids could be a financial struggle – especially if you have to give up work or lower your hours. Its one reason a diploma or postcard has been postponed for over the years. These things are not cheap! Fortunately, there are sources of income support for students with kids that could make it easier to financially cope. Student loans are also still available to mature students if you can’t pay for tuition out of your own pocket.

Take an online course

An online course could allow you to study in your own time at home rather than having to attend set seminars and lectures on campus. This flexibility could be useful when working your studies around your kids. You can even study masters degrees online through colleges such as USC. My original librarianship postgrad was entirely taught online from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. Opting for an online course also means that you’re not limited to colleges near you. It’s always vital to ensure your course is accredited to our standards of course. 

Study in a suitable environment

Studying in front of the TV with the kids in the room isn’t going to be very productive, although there is no doubt that will happen on occassion – if you can make sure that you’re studying somewhere that you can concentrate. You could consider converting a room into your home into a study and making this a kid-free zone whilst you do your work. This is where support from family and friends comes in again. Alternatively, you could try getting away from home and studying in a library or a coffee bar, my favourite place to work when I’m writing! You may even be able to meet up with other studying parents.

Keep a study schedule

Having a weekly schedule will help you to get your study time so that you stay on target. Choosing a regular time could also make it easier to arrange a babysitter if you need one. Alternatively, you could try to study at times when your child is asleep or at school. Make sure that it’s a time in which you feel you can concentrate – you may be too tired to study at the end of the day when your little one is asleep.

Allow yourself free time

It’s important that on top of all your commitments, you still have time to relax and pursue personal interests. Looking after kids, handling housework and studying is likely to take up most of your time – if you’re also working you could find that you have little to no time to spend on yourself. Treat yourself to free time so that you don’t burn out through exhaustion – schedule it in each week if you have to and get somebody to babysit.

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