How Do Moms Handle Going Back to School? 

By April Tisher

My mom went back to school to get her RN degree when I was a child, so I remember us both at the kitchen table studying. The slow cooker was her best friend and her study groups came over to our house on weekends. We even graduated from college during the same year! Now as a mom myself, I can better understand the hardships she faced, and I often wonder how she managed to do it all. Going to college as a young adult without a family to be responsible for has its own challenges; but doing it when you are older (albeit it wiser) and have a home and children to care for is a different experience all together! Time management and a strong support system is a must, but how do mom’s handle going back to school?

Going back to school as an adult definitely has its advantages. You’re usually pretty confident of what you want to do with
your degree, have more defined goals and self-discipline. You most likely have a plan how you can pay for it and a better idea of what it will mean for your career. It has its disadvantages as well. The worries about how it will impact your family and home life are a top concern. It will mean an adjustment for everyone’s routines. You have to decide if the benefits outweigh the consequences. In many cases they do! More parents than ever before have taken the plunge and gone back to the classroom!

What a mom has to say:

Krista Ott is a single mom to an 8-year-old, William, and the current fire and life safety coordinator for the City of Gainesville. After receiving her bachelor’s degree over 10 years ago, she decided to go back to school to receive her master’s degree in Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness. Ott explains that the fire department is the lead agency for emergency management so furthering her education is a bonus for her employer. In fact, she said it is the city’s “Tuition Reimbursement” program that was a main factor in her moving ahead with going back to school in the first place.

Another main factor was the ability to obtain her master’s degree online. “It’s a lifesaver,” Ott stresses, “between my work schedule and William’s activities, attending traditional classes wasn’t possible. The online option means I can do my school work from home on a flexible schedule.”

Krista says her number one piece of advice to other mom’s considering going back to school is to, “Be prepared to reprioritize your life.” Things that used to be super important to her, like making sure all the dishes were put away before going to bed, are no longer her top priority. Now, she says, “Before going to bed I have to make sure my assignment has been turned in. The dishes will still be there in the morning to put away.” Another piece of advice she gives is that there is never a perfect time to go back to school. “I kept thinking I would go back after I got married, after my son was born, after he started kindergarten, etc., but life just kept happening. There is no good time, you just have to make it happen.”

How do moms handle going back to school:

  1. Research online programs with flexible schedules.
  2. See if your company has a tuition reimbursement program.
  3. Ask for child care help from friend.
  4. Set up study spot at home for you and your kids to study together.
  5. Find easy to make dinner meals.
  6. Create chore lists for your kids to help with some of the small tasks to lighten your load.

Ott says she did worry about how her returning to class might negatively impact her son, but just the opposite has happened. She said he is excited to hear about what she is learning. He is witnessing adults learning and fostering their personal growth. She hopes it will keep him motivated in his own academic career.