As a parent, the idea of going back to school to earn a degree may feel daunting. Luckily, the continued growth of online education options has made it more manageable for adults with busy schedules to pursue their education and career goals. But, in order to manage work, family, and other responsibilities, it’s important to have a plan for success.
Here are a few tips for parents who are thinking about going back to school.
1. Do Your Research
Before you enroll in an online program, it’s crucial to do research to ensure it meets your needs and will help you on your career path. First, verify that the school is accredited—you want to make sure that you are learning the skills you need, as well as earning credentials that will be accepted by potential employers.
Second, make sure a school has the program(s) you need to achieve your career goals. For example, it’s important to make sure that a program includes specific training that will prepare you for any certification exams you may need to pass in order to qualify for a job.
Lastly, look for an online program that is flexible—some programs require you to complete work within stricter deadlines, while others allow you to work when you want, and at your own pace, which can be more manageable for parent students.
2. Make Financial Plans
Obviously, enrolling in an online degree program costs money. Beyond researching the costs you will incur as a student, it’s critical to look for ways to pay for school that will make it affordable while avoiding as much loan debt as possible.
If you are currently employed, ask your employer whether your company offers a tuition reimbursement program. You can also look for scholarships. Search for general scholarships available to residents of your city and state, as well as scholarships at the local and national level that apply to your living situation, age, area of study and other factors that may apply.
3. Plan for Success
Before you start school, it’s important to make sure you have a plan for success in place. First, make a schedule for yourself. The flexibility of an online program can allow you to make time for studying that doesn’t get in the way of your work or personal life, but it’s important to get a routine in place. Once you’ve established a time and place to study regularly, you’ll be surprised at how productive you can be.
It’s also important to create a support system for yourself. Talk to your family and friends, and ask for help managing certain tasks that may get in the way of your academic success. You should also connect with your academic advisor early and often for academic and career advice. The more you tap them for help, the better they can serve you in their position.
Finally, set realistic goals. Going back to school is hard, especially when you have a handful of responsibilities to manage in addition to your studies. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and establish deadlines that make sense for your personal situation.
Interested in going back to school? Learn more about Ashworth College’s online programs.