The economy is rapidly changing, and with it, so is post-secondary education. You are most likely among those who are considering going back to school, whether as a first time student Moms, to complete a degree, or to change your career. Colleges are adapting as well because 75 percent of student enrollment comes from a student with nontraditional background. These are women that don’t fit the stereotypical view of a young students who entered college straight from high school. This includes:
- Moms that return after being out of school for years, including veterans, first time students, and those that need to complete a degree.
- Moms that work full time.
- Moms who earned a GED (General Education Diploma), not a high school diploma.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 School Enrollment and Work Status report, 72 percent of undergraduate students worked some per week, while 20 percent of these worked full time. As universities add more online courses, and even degrees that can be earned completely from completing Internet classes, this option is more attractive than ever to moms, especially those that have young children or a full-time job. However, before jumping into the world of online degrees, you need to do some homework and break out a planner. Organization skills right at the start will help you to juggle work, school, and home life, which must be done in order for you to succeed in an online learning environment.
Decide what your goals are and research how to meet them.
- Are you looking to increase opportunities for your current career, or do you want to change careers?
- Do you want to earn a certificate, associates or bachelors?
- Investigate the options available at your local educational institutions or nationwide.
- Some online learning programs offer tuition at a special rate. For instance, the University of Maine at Augusta offers out-of-state students tuition at 125 percent of the in-state rate.
- Find ways to pay for school, like a scholarship or grant.
Mentally prepare yourself
Online courses are no cakewalk. There will be days when you feel exhausted, but don’t give up!
- Keep the larger picture in mind. Visualize how your hard work and sacrifice will pay off. Over the course of their lives, college graduates can earn significantly more than people with only high school diplomas.
- Make a checklist, and complete the tasks one step at a time in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed. It is encouraging to actually see progress being made.
Time Management is your best friend
You probably have some good habits developed from your work experiences and family life, however adding a new large consumer of your day will mean priorities will have to be altered. Courses that are taken online offer the advantage of flexibility, because the coursework can be completed at any time. Traditional courses are rigid, while online classes are fluid. But this does not mean that you won’t have deadlines. You’ll likely need to respond to daily discussions, take exams, write papers, and complete group projects by certain due dates. These are typically found in the syllabus for the course. Here’s how to make the most of your time so that your studies are given the necessary attention:
- Make sure before courses begin that you are comfortable with all of the technology requirements.
- Review the syllabus for each course and use a planner to mark the dates when important projects, papers and discussions are due.
- Make a plan to read assignments, to discuss topics, and to watch supplementary materials. Stick with it!
- Identify opportunities where you can work ahead.
- Plan stages for your large projects so that you don’t end up rushing to do everything at once.
- Contact the course instructor if you have any concerns or difficultly. Most can be reached via email, and some even have chat or phone “office” hours.
Remember to stop and smell the roses
Or smell the coffee, with some friends, if you prefer. Going freight-train-style with your schedule may seem admirable, but in reality, you are setting yourself up for failure. Burnout is a very real threat that can derail your plans.
- It is crucial to make sure that you take some time—even if it’s just an hour per week—for yourself.
- Your time management skills will come in handy to prevent burnout, because you can make time for your hobbies, friends, and family.
- Nature prefers balance, and so do people. Go to the park, read a book, see a concert; do whatever will help you relax and unwind.