More and more moms are going back to school, willing to juggle one more thing for the chance at a brighter and more secure future for themselves and their families.
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Others who are already working want to learn how to change careers for a brighter future.
Are You a Mom Going Back to School?
According to the Social Security Administration, research shows that women with bachelor’s degrees earn on average $630,000 more over their lifetimes than women with only a high school education.
On top of that, they are more likely to gain and maintain employment and feel satisfied at work. They’re also a great inspiration to their children! Yes, going back to school at 30 or as a parent is challenging, though! You will have a lot to juggle. You will have to learn how to work, go to school, and be a mom.
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Luckily, many top accredited colleges now offer online classes that make it easier than ever for mothers to earn reputable degrees, whether their days are spent in the office or chasing after kids. You can listen to lectures during your morning commute or take tests after the kids are tucked into bed.
Online classes make it possible to “do school” anytime, anywhere. While going back to school may be tough, it’s not impossible!
How Will I Balance Everything?
This seems to be the #1 question from moms. You are already juggling so much, and the thought of adding one more thing may seem impossible, but with a little extra effort when it comes to planning and organizing, you can make going back to college as an adult all work.
Here are a few tips:
1. Test the waters
You don’t have to jump into the deep end right away. You can ease in by enrolling as a part-time, online student and taking a few courses that you can complete at your own pace.
Once you get into a routine and see how schooling fits into your busy life, you can increase your course load and even go full-time if that works.
2. Budget your time
Creating a schedule that blocks out specific times where you can commit to working on your schoolwork can help you be a successful student. There are many ways to do this, so it can be helpful to test a few to see what works for you. You might use a written calendar, an app, or alarms on your phone.
It may be important to be strict with yourself and those around you about your study times. You may need to be adamant that your time to study is dedicated to school and isn’t negotiable.
3. Find a dedicated and organized space
Not only is it helpful to have dedicated time, but it can be very beneficial to have a dedicated study space as well. It can be hard to be focused and engaged while lounging in your recliner, when kids are fighting in the background, or with a pile of toys at your feet.
A quiet, tidy work area with no distractions can help you focus. You can also dedicate this space to all the office supplies you might need, such as a printer, notepads, paper, post-it notes, and pens.
4. Work with your employer
It is important to communicate openly with your employer about your plans to go back to school. It will help them understand the stress you’re under, and they may be able to offer support and perhaps some leniency when it comes to your work schedule.
Some employers even have tuition assistance programs that you won’t want to miss out on!
5. Build a support system
As the old saying goes, “It takes a village,” and this may never be truer than when you’re a mom juggling online college classes. Before your semester begins, you may want to ask for help from friends and family, so you can get the support you need to concentrate on your schoolwork.
Some things to consider may include childcare, carpooling, help with your children’s school and after-school activities, and even meal planning.
6. Find financial help
Paying for college is a huge concern for many moms that are going back to school. The first step in getting tuition assistance is to fill out the FASFA. This will let you know which federal and state grants you qualify for. These may cover some (or all!) of your college expenses.
There are numerous scholarships and tuition assistance programs available for mothers as well. You can reach out to your college and see what they offer! You can also get more information about financial aid here.
7. Once enrolled, get a jumpstart
Once you are registered for online classes, it can be helpful to check out the classroom portal as soon as possible. You can read through the syllabus, add important dates to your calendar, bookmark any resources mentioned, and get a headstart on organizing your studies.
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If you have questions or concerns about the course expectations, this will also give you a chance to reach out to your professor early. Adding college courses to your already busy schedule may seem impossible, but it just requires some planning and organization.
Should I Go to a Community College or an Online School?
Night classes at a community college used to be the go-to option for people going back to school, but online programs have opened new doors and offered increased flexibility.
Attending classes on campus means having to be there at a scheduled time, and you waste precious time driving there and parking. You also have to deal with obstacles like traffic, bad weather, and missed classes due to sick kids or unreliable babysitters. Online learning, on the other hand, can help eliminate these obstacles and typically wastes far less time.
You can fit classes in during the early morning hours, on your lunch break, or when the kids are in bed for the night. It can work around your commitments, whenever and wherever you’re available. All you need to do is log in, and you’re ready to go! That’s not to say there are no benefits to taking classes on a college campus.
Some students appreciate the face-to-face learning experience and real-time conversations with classmates. Some also learn better in a classroom setting.
Should I Go to Online School Full-Time, Part-Time, or Just Take a Few Classes?
It depends on how much time you can commit! A good rule of thumb is: For every one credit hour, expect to spend approximately 2 to 3 hours outside of class studying. A course worth 3 credits will typically require 6 to 9 hours of study time per week.
To be considered full-time, most schools require you to take at least 12 credits per semester, which would likely mean an additional 24 to 36 hours of study. If you are able to work that into your schedule, you may be able to earn your certificate or degree quickly.
But most moms can’t attend full-time classes. Part-time or just a class or two each semester is still worthwhile and will get you on track to earning that certificate or degree that can help you advance your career.
What Do I Go to School for If I Don’t Know What I Want to Do?
At My College Guide, we have a wealth of information about most majors, but narrowing it down will require some self-reflection.
What are your skills and interests? Are you interested in accounting careers or careers in art, education, or counseling? When you were in school, what classes did you excel in and enjoy? What everyday tasks do you find fulfilling now? You may want to ask your friends, family members, and coworkers what strengths and weaknesses they see in you.
As you consider the options, it’s important to remember that as a parent, you have more at stake. It may be even more important to choose something you will enjoy but that will also provide job stability and a good income to support your family.
These are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide:
- What type of training or education will I need for my new career ideas? Where can I get that?
- How long will the transition take?
- How much money will it cost?
- Will this new career work well with my lifestyle now and in the future?
- Will this new career pay off and offer the financial stability I need?
Going back to school is an investment of time and money, and it’s important to choose a path that will offer a return on that investment.
What Are the Best Careers for Moms Going Back to School?
The concept of the “best careers” is subjective and depends on your personal goals and interests. That said, the best careers for moms going back to school are often the ones that are interesting and challenging and also provide job security and good salaries.
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Based on studies and surveys of mothers, as well as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the jobs often considered to be the best careers for moms going back to school:
- Medical Assistants
- Sonogram Technicians
- Dental Hygienists
- Fitness Trainers
- Social Workers
- Web Designers
- Public Relations Consultants
- Market Research Analysts
As you can see, healthcare, education, hospitality, marketing, and technology are popular fields for moms going back to school. These careers may be a good fit for you and are likely to provide a good return on your investment.
How Can I Afford College? Are There Grants and Scholarships for Women Going Back to College?
Don’t worry, you may not have to pay for college on your own. There is financial aid available, including scholarships and grants, for mothers returning to college, married or single moms going back to school, and college grants for women. There are opportunities for people in many different situations!
First, you will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There is no age limit to financial aid. This application is open to everyone. It will let you know which grants, loans, and work-study programs you qualify for.
Many students—especially non-traditional students—don’t complete the FAFSA because they don’t believe they will qualify for need-based assistance, but the truth is, most students do. Even if you don’t, the FAFSA can help you access student loans with very low interest rates.
Here are a few examples of scholarship opportunities for moms going back to school:
- GoGirl! Grants: This grant is for women living in Coachella Valley, CA. Applicants must be 25 or older and working towards a specific undergraduate degree or occupational certification.
- Imagine America Scholarship: This scholarship is for adults over the age of 19 who plan to improve their futures and enter trade professions. It provides up to $1,000.
- Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Foundation: This scholarship is for low-income students who are 35 years old or older and identify as women or nonbinary and are pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate’s degree, or a first bachelor’s degree.
- Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation: This foundation awards scholarships to low-income mothers of minor children who are seeking their first degree or certificate at a not-for-profit, accredited institution or program in the US.
- Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers’ Annual Single Mother Scholarship: This company offers two scholarships annually for single mothers who are working toward undergraduate degrees or law degrees and have GPAs of 3.0 or higher
There are so many grants and scholarships to discover if you’re willing to do some digging. You can also check with the financial aid office at the school you choose to see if they offer any additional financial aid opportunities for parents returning to school.