Today, college degrees are becoming an increasingly more important prerequisite for a massive range of career choices. As a result, we’re seeing more and more parents getting back into education, whether they are getting a college degree for the first time or simply want to further and build upon their current qualifications. Bringing up a family can be excellent motivation for improving your knowledge base and bettering yourself in terms of your career, but juggling family life with studying is not always smooth sailing. The good news is that as an increasing number of parents return to education, the system is changing to better accommodate them. Here’s what you can do to find the right balance between improving your education and focusing on your family.
Today, online study is becoming an increasingly popular method of going back to school and earning a degree for parents. There are several benefits of studying online for parents, especially the fact that online degree programs are typically very flexible and self-led, giving you the control and freedom that you need to work studying around your family priorities, rather than having to make adjustments for attending classes and lectures. Studying online means that you don’t need to worry about the school run clashing with a lecture as you can study once you’ve got the kids to school and settled down ready. In addition, online study means that you can spend more time with your family as you won’t be commuting to and from college classes. You can even go on vacation together and take your degree work with you if you wish.
Set Aside Time With Family
When you’re focussing your energies into studying for a college degree, it can become all too easy to let it take up every moment of your spare time. But, whilst being dedicated to working on your degree is certainly important for getting the best grades, don’t let it get in between spending precious time with your family. You won’t want to miss out on any of those special moments as your little ones are growing up. So, in addition to creating a timetable for studying each day, factor in some time to dedicate to spending with family, too. Whether you keep a weekend day free to do something fun together or spend an hour before bedtime to catch up with your family and bond, make sure that it’s a priority for you.
As a parent, you’ll know just how important it is to plan ahead for any eventuality. Anything can happen when you are bringing up small children, so it’s crucial that you’re prepared and ready to deal with any potential issues that might arise. When you commit to studying for a degree, you’ll need to spend some time working out your plan for the future and factoring in any issues that could come up. You will need to be aware of timeframes for exams and assignment deadlines, for example, so that you can plan ahead for your family during these crucial times of the year. If your degree includes a work placement, it’s a wise idea to find out as early as possible when this will take place. You’ll also need to plan for childcare, if necessary, to cover times when you’ll need to be wholly focussed on studying or have classes and lectures at times when you’d normally be able to look after your kids yourself.
Get the Kids Involved
When you’re a parent studying for a college degree, you’re setting a great example to your children when it comes to education and working hard. If mom or dad is studying hard and doing their homework, then the little ones are more likely to follow suit. Don’t be afraid to get them involved with what you are learning; you could even do your homework together and spend some time teaching each other about what you have each learned that day.
Juggling college with family life is a lot of work, so it’s no surprise that many parents find it stressful. So, it’s essential that you have a strong support system that you can turn to when needed. Let your friends and family in on your plans to return to college and build a network of people who you can rely on to offer help and support when needed. Whether you need somebody to watch the kids while you’re at class, someone to help test your knowledge when you’re revising for an exam or just someone to talk to, support is essential – don’t go it alone! Don’t forget that if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your studies, it’s a good idea to talk to your college counselor, a teacher or even a therapist to get additional support and improve your coping mechanisms.
Go at Your Own Pace
Last but not least, don’t think that you have to get your degree finished in the standard three or four years. Fitting full-time study in if you’re also working and looking after your family is a massive commitment, so don’t be afraid to study part-time, if you feel that it will work better for you. Often, it’s better to take a little longer to finish your degree, allowing yourself the breathing space that you need to manage everything, get better grades and take the information in, compared to feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that you have to do. Online study is a great option here as many degree programs allow you to take as much time as you need to complete the work, making it easy for you to go at a pace that works well for both you and your family.
Studying for a college degree as a parent isn’t an easy feat, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to reach the next step in your career and be in a better position to provide more for your family.