Mom in Training: Wanna Go Back to School? How to Balance Work and Education As a Parent

December 12, 2012

Wanna Go Back to School? How to Balance Work and Education As a Parent

Lately, many people are finding their employment prospects are dim. Fortunately, the unemployed still have a few paths to follow to improve their marketability. One path that many unemployed people choose is going back to school. Unfortunately, this prospect is difficult for a lot of people. Going back to school is especially hardest on working parents. Luckily, options exist for anyone who wants to go back to school. A working parent must be smart with their time, but it can be done. If you've found yourself wondering if you should take the plunge, then are five tips to balance your work and school schedule.

There is an abundance of online options for all kinds of classes. In fact, some schools and/or programs exist that function entirely online. While this is appealing to some, online only schools are not an option for everyone. If time management or initiative aren't your forte, you might want to consider other options. That said, the best thing about online classes is the ability to take the class at your own pace. So if you work full-time and/or lead an unpredictable life, then this might be your best or only bet.

A lot of colleges have self-paced classes. These are great, especially for anyone studying IT or programming. In a self-paced class, students will usually meet with their instructor occasionally to go over things, but most of the time, they're on his or her own. Anyone who wants to take a self-paced class must remain disciplined and serious about their studies, because even if you have more time than usual to complete your coursework, you don't have the rest of your life. Sometimes two or three semesters can go by as quickly as a normal one!


Any parent going back to school needs to take this endeavor. Young students are notorious for drinking, partying and trying to meet other students. For the working parent, the goal should be to study and learn as much as possible. When you attend school, you should act like you are at a job - you have to be all in, or you won't make it. It's very easy to lose your way, and though you shouldn't do anything you're not happy to do, it's better to avoid the hassle and frustration of dropping or otherwise having similar difficulties if you can!


Anytime you need to study or go over school notes, find a quiet place. It is difficult to study in a house with children, especially children who are young. Create a home office, or if possible, find a way to get to your school library. If you can't get away for the weekend or for entire evenings, set aside a couple hours 5 or 6 days a week to concentrate and study. This way, you can just ask your sitter to stay a bit longer or trade off a daily shift with a spouse, while maintaining an active presence in your kids' daily lives.

Curb your Enthusiasm
Students in their teens or early 20's take a lot of credits. However, you should realize that as a working parent. taking a lot of classes may be difficult. Even if you can put your kids on your spouse's health insurance and work less, you should still ease your way back into school. Trust me - take one or two classes the first semester. Otherwise, you may burn out quickly. That said, some people are the exception to this rule - some people simply need to be all in - all or nothing is their motto. If this is more your style, you might benefit from jumping in with a full courseload, but be sure to prepare extensively for the transition.

Vanessa Milton writes about education, parenting and more. Her best pieces focus on helping people find the top schools for online associates degrees.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article. I am starting back at school next month with a 2 year old at home


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