6 Ways Being a Parent Can Be Useful for Moms Going Back to School

Mar 16, 2020 | Parenting

You’ve heard it all before.

You’ll be exhausted. Empty-pocketed. Never home for your family.

While naysayers over-focus on the obstacles of going back to school, there’s a kernel of truth that can’t be ignored: a massive percentage of parents drop out of college every year.

You know education is an investment worth making. One that will affect not just your career, but improve your family’s quality of life. That’s one reason why in the 2019-2020 school year, 11.3 million women enrolled in college in the US – nearly 2 million over the age of 35.   

So how do you work, go to school, and be a good mom at the same time? Let’s explore 6 reasons why going back to school while raising a family can be challenging, but ultimately gives you a serious edge.

mom going back to school

3 Monster Hurdles You Encounter as a Parent in School

1. There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

Sometimes it’s a challenge to split your full attention between your work, your family, and your education. There are too many important things that have to get done.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average mother with a child under 6 spends nearly 3 hours a day caring for her child. Combine that with a national average of 6.8 hours of work per day, 8 hours of sleep, and it’s more challenging to carve out time for class.

2. It’s a Hefty Financial Commitment

Developmental education – introductory and remedial classes that dust off old knowledge and prepare students for college-level courses – costs students an estimated $1.3 billion per year.

With yearly tuition fees ranging from $10,000 to more than $35,000, it’s time to zoom in on the real cost of education.

Imagine you take an average of 15 credit hours per term. At the low end, that’s $330 per credit hour. That two-credit, two-hour a week (too-easy) math class you have to take to enroll in accounting? It’s going to set you back at least $22 an hour.

Factor in transportation, arranging (and paying for) a babysitter, and reduced work hours, and you’re looking at a serious financial challenge.

3. It’s a Juggling Act

Sometimes, going back to school to further your career can take a toll on your current one. If you attend a traditional school, you may need to reduce your work hours to attend class. Or, you might have to drastically slow down your education to continue supporting your family. You’ll have to depend on a sitter – or a spouse – to take care of the children while you’re studying, and perhaps pick up some of the household duties, too. For some parents (especially single moms going back to school) this poses a serious challenge.

The great news? It’s these exact challenges – and the skills that come with them – that make moms singularly awesome at succeeding in college.

6 Reasons Why Moms in College Outshine Their Peers

Are you up for the challenge? You may be ready to go back to school.

1. You’re a Time Management Hacker

It can be difficult to balance going to school, working, (and maybe even taking a little break every once in a while), all while raising a family. So, do moms need to be robots to invest in their careers?

Thankfully, no.

However, it does mean that your time management skills need to be on-point. As a mom going back to school, you have a significant advantage over your fellow students: you’re a time-management pro. Moms manage more than 60% of household chores, on top of childcare and work. Therefore, for moms going back to school, stellar prioritizing is second nature.

2. Introductory Classes are a Piece of Cake

Many classes – especially in the first year of college – are general requirements. While they may be useful for a student fresh out of high school, they’re old news to someone with more life experience. This might leave traditional class time a little (let’s be honest) sluggish and boring.

Thankfully, you can save time by completing your pre-requisite courses using credit by exam.

Credit by Exam can save you hundreds of hours of class time and thousands of dollars. When compared to a traditional college course, credit by exam requires a lot less effort. So it’s more likely that you will earn the credits required for your degree. By using an approach that requires less effort, you actually have the time available to achieve your education and career advancement your goals. This ensures you can get back to what matters: family.

3. You’ve Got Discipline Down Pat

How do you earn college credits online? Beyond the obvious answer, there’s a more philosophical one: through exceptional discipline. It takes will-power to prioritize sitting down at the computer, taking out your notebook, and studying without anyone watching.

Traditional students do best when a teacher is in front of them, telling them what to do. But as a parent, this is your everyday role. It’s up to you to provide direction and guidance for your kids (whether they listen to you or not). 

Moms are well-equipped to crush an online course, and it shows. In fact, students who are parents regularly earn better grades than their non-parent counterparts.

4. Your Kids Inspire You

Having someone who inherently looks up to you can an effective motivator. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to share your report card with your child or discuss every grade you get. But it does mean that you can share what you’re learning, and the intellectual challenges you’re encountering in school.

Your children can see their school experiences reflected in you, and your successes will make them proud of you and in turn motivate them to invest in their education, creating a positive feedback loop. In as early as sixth grade, a mother’s educational status significantly influences a child’s aspirations to go to college. By mid- to late high school, your children will have years of positive role modeling to draw from, helping them decide if – scratch that – where they’ll go to college.

5. Your Spouse and Family Support You

It’s no secret that when you’re in school, some responsibilities will have to be rearranged. Your spouse might work more, or take on more of the household duties, to give you more time to study. A helpful relative might drop by a few nights a week to spend time with your children or cook dinner while you do your homework.

As a parent in college, you have access to a support network that non-parent students may not be fully aware of yet. This cooperation will serve to bring your family closer together. Best of all, when you complete your degree, they’ll not only feel proud of your success but feel they played a role in it too. How’s that for community building?

6. A Degree Leads to a Lifetime of Higher Earnings

Did you know that women with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $630,000 more over their lifetimes? That’s enough to fund college educations for ten children, and have money left over for retirement.

Whether you’re focused on advancing in your current profession or shifting to a new one, pursuing a new degree path or finally finishing the one you already started, investing in your education will positively affect your career for a lifetime. 

As a parent going back to school, you know exactly how much getting a good education can cost, but you also have the good sense to get the most out of every penny.

Moms Excel in College – Are You One of Them?

When it comes to the skills it takes to succeed in school, moms have what it takes. Whether it’s a family support network you know you can depend on, your strength of character that comes from being a mom, or your future-focused attitude, you’re uniquely prepared to handle the challenges college may throw at you. All that’s left is to start the journey.  

mom going back to school
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