Finding the best route back into education as a parent

Many parents return to college to earn a degree that allows work in their chosen profession, to earn a degree that leads to higher wages, and to earn a degree that facilitates career advancement. Long past the time of toga parties and football games, parents who are students find pursuing a college degree intimidating because it requires juggling parental responsibilities and a full-time job, in addition to budgeting for a college education. However, today’s parents have many options as institutions have become increasingly flexible in their efforts to meet student demand. For today’s parents, the best route to completing a college education and earning a degree can be made much simpler with planning.

Before even entering a program of study, parents returning to school should plan for their career goals. Issues to consider include:

  •  Time management—Parents find they have few very hours left available when the working day is over. Raising a family while working full or part time consumes quite a bit of an individual’s time. Completing any educational program requires allocating time during the day just to study. Furthermore, college counselors advise students spend at least two hours per every credit hour studying or working on coursework to be successful in their coursework, making time management a priority an important issue parents must consider when returning to school.
  • Educational Plan—Someone returning to school might consider creating an educational plan. Many parents return to school for a variety of reasons, as stated in the beginning of this article, but students with clear, defined goals are more successful in their academic endeavors if they go into their education with an academic plan that clearly lists the required courses needed to enter a profession.
  • Skills—Knowing the skills needed for a particular career is essential to college success. In fact, some prospective students might find they already have some of the skills necessary to function in the program. If a parent has earned credits toward a degree, for example, getting a transcript evaluation can assess the requisite courses needed for any program. Before this can happen, though, the student should seek counsel from an academic advisor at their chosen institution.
  • Budget—Equally important in pre-planning for college is developing a budgeting for an education. Cost of books and tuition can be quite expensive today. Knowing what type of financial assistance in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs can help parents budget for a college.
  • Preparing for the Classroom—Today’s classroom is a much different place than in year’s past. Dusty chalkboards and dry erase markers have been replaced by learning management systems (LMS) and other technology in the classroom. Many instructors do not give handouts, as many of the lectures are housed online. Prepare by becoming familiar with current computer technology and the current LMS the institution may be using.

Once developing a plan, the step between enrolling for the first class and earning the degree is not so unachievable.

Conversely, many institutions have done their part in making college more accessible for parents. Many traditional programs offer alternative schedules, including online classes. As well as evening classes, some schools offer weekend classes that are Friday evening or Saturday morning. Several programs offer condensed classes that last anywhere between six-eight weeks, so students could, in theory, accelerate their program within a single semester. Also, students who struggle with childcare issues may find many online programs more manageable. Some of the programs are accelerated, so a person can finish a class in as little as just one month. For example, Maryville’s doctorate in education online comprehensive program of study takes as little as 32 months to complete. A plethora of options exist for parents who might find managing an education and a family life intimidating.

When parents return to school, children usually benefit, so the sacrifice in terms of time and money is always worth the effort. Before even attending the first day of class, prepare children for by assigning them responsibilities. If children are old enough, show them how to cook simple meals or how to wash their own clothes, in addition to helping out with other chores in the house. Children will rise to the challenge if they are made to follow a routine that includes free time as well. All of this requires

organizational skills, but when set in place, parents make the challenge of becoming full or part time students less daunting and much more enjoyable for both parent and child.

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