Tips and Considerations for Going Back to School as a Parent

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Have you considered going back to college as a parent? Maybe you want to make a career move, earn more money, or simply finish your degree. Perhaps you've previously researched online degree programs or are just getting started with your school search.

In this article, we’ve outlined tips and considerations for going back to school as a parent.

Pros and Cons of Going Back to School

As a parent with many responsibilities, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good idea to also take on being a college student. It makes sense to weigh the reasons to go back to school against the time and effort involved in juggling school, work and family responsibilities.

It’s also important to consider how your time spent earning your degree will impact your family. They most likely won’t have as much time with you, and you may have to temporarily sacrifice certain experiences with your family. These are all important factors to take into consideration ahead of time so that you can make a fully informed decision about continuing a college degree.

Finally, money isn’t the only deciding factor, but it can be an important one for many families. Data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – a government agency within the U.S. Department of Labor – shows that for persons ages 25 and up, median earnings increase and unemployment rates decrease as they earn more education. Increasing your earning potential can have a big impact on your financial future, especially if you’ve reached your maximum earning potential in your current career.

Preparing Your Family for Your Return to College

As a parent, your decision to return to school will affect more than just yourself. Here are five tips to help your transition go as smoothly as possible, both for yourself and for your family.

1. Talk About It

This may seem like an obvious first step, but make sure to talk to your family about your decision. Describe your goals and how education will help you get there, and let them share in your joy and excitement for this new path. If they know your end goals, they can help keep you motivated and accountable as you move toward graduation.

If you have young children, they may not understand why you are spending less time with them and more time on the computer. Reiterate your love and commitment to your family, and remind them that the extra time you’re spending studying and doing classwork will be temporary. The college experience can be demanding at times, so you will need all the moral support you can get.

2. Establish New Traditions

Going back to school can be an opportunity to establish new weekly traditions for your family. It can be pizza dinners on Tuesdays, game nights on Wednesdays or Saturday family picnics. A scheduled event can give you and your children something fun to look forward to, which can be comforting during the difficult times when you’re not as available to them as you were before.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, and well-thought-out plans can change in an instant. During these times, you’ll likely need to lean heavily on your school’s support services. Many schools are now committed to helping their students with flexible learning options, so take advantage of these when you can.

When in doubt, reach out to your school’s support staff and discuss your options. You don’t need to let your educational dreams fall to the wayside when circumstances change.

4. Connect With Other Students

Many online students go through similar struggles when navigating how to balance work, school and family life. Connecting with other students in your classes and finding out what works for them can be a good use of your time. You can meet other students through online discussion boards, social media groups or joining your school’s alumni association.

5. Study Together

As a parent going back to school, you now have something new in common with your children: homework! By studying and doing schoolwork alongside your family, you can be a good example for your children and impress upon them the importance of education. When you show them that hard work can be tough but rewarding, you can teach them to be better students, teammates and workers in the future.

Getting Started

Here at Columbia Southern University, our online degree programs are designed to fit the schedules of working adults. Our LifePace Learning® enrollment option gives students the freedom to pursue college on their own timelines, complete courses at a comfortable pace, and establish a learning schedule that fits into their busy lifestyles.

To learn more about our online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes, and CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

LifePace Learning is not eligible for Federal Student Aid, VA funding, or the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program.

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