How Can I Go Back to College if I Have Young Kids?

How Can I Go Back to College if I Have Young Kids?
Barry Lenson

If you’re a mom or dad with little kids in the house, there’s a good chance that you have put your educational plans on hold.

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Is that the right decision? On first glance, raising children and attending school seem to be two activities that don’t “fit.” In the evenings when you’d like to attend classes, you have to put dinner on the table and put your kids to bed. In the morning when you’d like to snag a little study time, you’re getting your kids dressed and off to school.  Unless you have the luxury of having one of your parents on call to help take care of your kids, or the money to pay for hours of childcare, going to college can be difficult.

But Are You Only Making Excuses?

If you’re a parent, does that really mean you have to put your educational plans on hold until your kids are older?  In some cases it does. But there is also the danger that you are only using your kids as an excuse for delaying your education. When you consider all the benefits of education, such as increased income and greater success, that can be a costly decision to make.

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So before you write off the chances of going back to school while your kids are young, consider these strategies that adult students are using to combine parenting and school...

    • Budget about six hours of study every week for a three-credit online course.  That figure is recommended by many colleges, and it could convince you that taking a college course is more manageable than you thought.  If you can find six hours during your week – over the weekend, during lunch hours at work or after your kids go to bed - you can stay on track with your college work.
    • Take only one or two classes at a time.  Remember that there is no need to burden yourself with three or four classes. Just one can keep your education moving forward – and a light course load is easier to manage if you’re a parent.
  • Set aside a place to study in your home. You don’t need a big area – even a small desk in the corner of one room can be enough.  If you can, locate this area behind closed doors so you can go there while another family member keeps an eye on your kids.

A Great Tip from a StraighterLine Online Student

  • Don’t hide your studying from your children. “I actually show my son my lessons on my computer so he understands what I am doing when I say, `Mommy has to study for a while,’” says Cecilia, who is taking StraighterLine’s College Algebra course online.  That’s a good tip. If your kids understand what you’re doing, they could be less tempted to interrupt you. “I also encourage my son to do his homework while I’m doing mine and that’s fun,” Cecilia adds.

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