If you are a parent who never went to college, or you are considering returning to college for an MBA or another form of grad school, you could be daunted by the prospect. Although there is nothing wrong with attending college as a mature adult, you will be aware that most of your peers at any university will be younger – many of them still in their late teens, even!
Many parents question whether they can handle the responsibilities of parenthood while studying in college. Being a parent and the traditional college experience don’t exactly mix, right? Plus. it’s easy to talk yourself out of even applying to college as a parent, especially as you may be the oldest person in your class by quite a few years. All these small issues can compound over time and can stop a person from even applying to college, even if they really want to.
While the idea of being the oldest in the class with a family at home can be challenging, there’s no reason to be afraid. Colleges are becoming increasingly diverse in their student bodies, so why shouldn’t you be the next top student at the college of your choice?
Let’s dive straight into some advice for going back to college as a parent.
Your College Experience Will Be What You Make of It
Although movies and TV shows seem to detail the quintessential American college experience as a party-filled, raging free-for-all, that doesn’t have to be YOUR college experience. You are an individual who stands out from the crowd and is making a brave decision to return to education after having kids. That, alone, is enough to prove that you can make your college experience anything you want it to be.
Sure, you might not be joining any fraternities or sororities; you might not be staying up all night drinking beer out of a keg; but let’s face it, that’s not what college is really about. Don’t judge your peers for living dangerously during college, but even more importantly, don’t judge yourself for prioritizing your family during college either!
Your Children Wll Not Suffer From You Returning to College
One of the biggest worries that parents have when they consider returning to college is how it will affect their children’s quality of life. As long as you have the course financially planned out, your kids will not suffer from this decision. Living in a new place can be tough on kids, but if you remain strong as a family, your kids will one day realize just how big a gift your returning to college was for them.
Even if college keeps you busy – you might stay up late studying or spend more time out of the house than usual – the long-term benefits of attending college are huge, especially for your kids. You will be an inspiration for them as you continue to pave the way for your career, giving your family a better chance of living successfully in the future.
Your Unique Life Experiences Will Bring Something New to the Table
As an adult who has kids already, you will be in the minority in most college scenarios. Don’t let that put you off! Your unique life experiences will bring a fresh perspective to your studies, and this is a powerful tool to wield. Whether you are attending business school, pondering the meaning of life in a Theology degree, or training in a specialism like agriculture or economics, your wealth of life experience will teach the youngsters in your class a thing or two!
If you are nervous about applying to college in your specific circumstances, make sure you get help with your application. For example, if you are applying to business school, you could consult a business school admissions consultant who will help prepare you for your college interview. This extra preparation will enable you to shine in an academic environment, even if you haven’t been in education for a decade or more.
Research College Childcare Before You Commit to a Course
Some colleges have invested heavily in childcare schemes that encourage working parents to attend college. These colleges have fantastic infrastructure for people with kids, including creches, family housing, financial aid options for families, and other awesome frameworks that allow parents to thrive in a college environment.
If you have a college in mind to which you would love to apply, make sure you check out their childcare options to see whether it is a child-friendly institution. In addition, you should contact the admissions team before you submit a formal application, to discuss their family aid options and ensure that you are making the right choice by applying to that college.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start Fresh, Even if Your Life Already Feels Set in Stone
When you have children, your life becomes more set in stone – it’s as simple as that. However much of an independent free spirit you may be, you will need to have a routine, a stable home, and at least some idea of where your next paycheck is coming from once you have a child.
These new responsibilities can feel like a huge amount of pressure and can lead parents to stay in jobs or situations in which they are unhappy, simply because they’re afraid of starting afresh with a family to take care of.
Nevertheless, with the right forward planning and a strong infrastructure aided by the college you attend, there is nothing wrong with starting afresh. Your life is never completely set in stone, so don’t be afraid to rewrite the script, even if you do have a family to take care of. Yes, you need to prioritize your family’s health, safety, and happiness – but attending college doesn’t go against any of those things, it actually nurtures them!
Ultimately, your goals in life are still important, even after becoming a parent. Use our college guide to help you find the courage and infrastructure to make family life work while you go back to school.