A lot of people want to go to college. There is an extra challenge if you are a parent. You have responsibilities to care for your children who may distract you. Many of my friends have gotten married, had children, and decided they wanted to get a degree. They faced some struggles, but they made it through.
Watching my friends and family go through this, I realized that not everyone knows what they’re doing when they decide to go back to school. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your educational pursuits as a parent. Keep in mind that not all of these may work for you. However, they should be relevant to a lot of situations.
Choose a STEM Degree or Highly Sought Certificate
It makes no sense to return to college if your educational path will not get you into a high paying job quickly. STEM degrees are often the major field that promise good pay right away. One good thing to consider is high paying certification programs. These are usually in technology-oriented fields that have high demand. Do not go to law school for 6 years on a student loan that you will pay back for half your life. Go for something practical that is quick and will get you a major pay increase. Certification programs are often a good fit.
Check Out Community Colleges
In the rush to succeed, it is often easy to forget the simple path. The simple path need not be at a big graduate level university that swallows most of your annual paycheck for tuition. There are all sorts of great flexible classes at many community colleges that can get you on a path for growth much quicker. Some of them, like machinist and computer science, will put you on the level of a well-paid white collar worker. All it takes is a little work and time commitment to a daycare or relative for children, and you are on your way.
Have Realistic Expectations
If you are juggling work, family, and school, you will do all of them more poorly than if you were only doing one of them. Do not be too hard on yourself. Talk with your instructor about flexible options. Many instructors, particularly at community colleges, are quite open to being flexible on due dates and classes as long as you are dedicated to your program.
If you have a good amount of free time, but never at the right time for regularly scheduled college classes or other programs, online courses are a viable option. Online courses are especially good for those who are looking to further their education beyond a degree they already have. An online MHA degree, for example, is the same as getting one in person, so do what fits your schedule.
Returning to school is not easy. However, in a world where higher education is worshiped as a major deity, having more of it can be very helpful. Remember to talk with your family about concerns you have. They can offer ideas that will give you a path to moving forward.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.
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