Many parents decide they want to be more educated and begin a degree course or perhaps another type of qualification. Even though it can be hard to juggle your studies and your other commitments, it's possible to gain the qualifications you want. If you think it could improve your life for the better and make things better for your family too, you can find ways to get the education you want. There are some things to think about before you make any changes, though.
For most parents who are thinking about studying, money is the main issue. Depending on what type of qualification you want, your studies could be expensive on their own. And then you have to factor in other things that might affect your finances. Your studies might mean you have to work less, or even stop working altogether. Of course, if you're a stay at home parent, you won't have to consider this point. But there are other financial considerations, including that you might need to pay for childcare on some occasions. Your studies could mean increased costs in your family budget so it might make things tough for a while.
Deciding What to Study
If you're thinking of going back into education, you might already have an idea of what you want to study. However, perhaps you're not entirely certain yet, and you just know you want to change or improve your career. What could help you to make your life better? If you're starting from the position of already having an associate's or bachelor's degree, you might want to consider the subject and build on it with a new qualification. You might have a career in mind that you hope will improve your family life. For example, becoming a teacher could give you hours that match up better with your kids and give you more vacation time to use too.
When you're thinking about what to study and which qualification you're interested in, you should think about how it will benefit you, how long it will take to complete, and what it will cost. A six-month course you can complete in the evenings might give you the boost in your career that you're looking for. Or pursuing a postgraduate degree could be what you need to do to achieve your goals. You need to make a balanced choice to do what's right for you and your family as a whole.
Finding flexible study options can be a huge benefit if you're a parent. Your commitments as a parent are a priority, but sometimes you have to juggle things a little to eventually make things better for everyone. Having to attend classes can make things hard, but there is one option that might help. Studying online is a possibility with colleges like UMA, and makes it easier to fit your studies around anything else you have going on. You can often do your work whenever and wherever you want, although there are also deadlines to meet. If you want to work at home once the kids are in bed or sneak off to the library for some peace, online study gives you the flexibility to do it.
However, studying online might not be for everyone. You might still have a large workload in terms of the assignments and courses you have to complete. On top of that, not having a set schedule, apart from deadlines, can make it hard to fit your studies around other things. You'll always have other things that need your attention so finding time for your studies can fall to the wayside. Having set class times makes it much harder to skip out on your studies. You can also consider some other flexible options, like taking evening classes or finding a part-time course.
If you want to get back to studying, it's really helpful if you have support at home. If you're married or have a partner, this could mean having them help pick up the slack for the things you don't have time for. While you're studying, it might mean your partner needs to help a little more with cleaning or childcare. This is why it's important to discuss your decision as a family, as you will both be putting in extra effort to make your goals happen. You both need to be fully onboard with how things might change and your new responsibilities. To a certain extend, the same can be said for kids too. If they're old enough to understand, you should explain how things might be different and perhaps how they can help.
Support can come from outside of your home too. For example, you might have other family members, such as a parent or sibling, who could help with childcare. If you need someone to pick the kids up from school while you're in class, perhaps someone could help you out by doing that. You can also consider professional childcare, which could be in the form of a nanny, childminder or babysitter. It could also be possible to have your kids do extracurriculars after school and on the weekends. These are expenses you might need to take into account before beginning your studies.
Support for Your Studies
As well as getting the support you need at home, you need to ensure you get the support you need for your studies. This is something to consider when you're choosing a study program and institution. What sort of support can you get if you have questions, don't understand an assignment, need an extension, or perhaps want to question a mark? You can normally find out before you begin your studies. Even when you study online, you can normally contact tutors through email, chat and possibly phone too. If you're attending a college or other institution in person, you should have people you can visit in their office or who you can contact through other means. As well as getting academic support, you should be able to ask for help on other issues. For example, if you're ill or unable to complete your work for another reason, you need to know who you can get in touch with. It's also worth knowing what sort of financial support you can receive while you're studying.
Dealing with the Emotional Strain
Studying while you're trying to raise a family can be physically exhausting, but it can also take its toll emotionally too. One of the things you might find is that you feel guilty that you can't be there for your kids as much. This can be one of the toughest things to handle when you go back to school, but it's hard to avoid changing your family's schedule. It might be especially hard if you were previously a stay at home parent and were able to dedicate as much time as possible to your family. Speaking to your family beforehand about how things might change can help you manage their expectations and your own feelings of guilt or blame that you might experience.
While you're studying, try to focus on spending quality time together, even if it's less often than usual. You might have the urge to spoil your kids a bit, but try not to go too overboard in an attempt to overcompensate. You can also use opportunities to get your work done alongside your kids. If they have homework to do, you could do your work too. If going back to school helps to make you happy, it can improve the mood for the whole family.
Going back to school when you're a parent can be a challenge, but you can do it if you put your mind to it. Just make sure you're prepared, instead of rushing into it.