Navigating College as a Student Parent
You know that going back to school will have a positive effect on your future, but in the back of your mind you may be worried about how your decision will affect your children. Getting a degree is hard work in itself, and it’s normal to feel anxious about your ability to balance your schoolwork with your responsibilities at home.
The good news is, it’s doable. Today, student parents make up 26 percent of the undergraduate student body, and many also work full-time or part-time jobs to make ends meet.
So, how do they do it?
Instead of putting school aside, it’s important to develop a game plan for managing your time as both a parent and student.
Here are four tips to help you nail both roles:
Identify your support system
You support and encourage your children day in and day out. Chances are, you are going to need some support too. Find someone you can count on to build you up and listen to you in a time of struggle, whether it’s a parent, spouse, friend, or advisor at school. Everyone needs someone who will let them know, “you can do this!”
The key to your success as a student parent is planning. Plan everything. Find the planning tool that is right for you and write down due dates for assignments, exams and important family-related tasks. It may help to write school-related tasks in one color and family-related tasks in another color. Make your planner a one-stop-shop for all of your to-dos.
Include your children
You may feel that you have less time to spend with your children now that you are in school. Many people feel this way! Luckily, there are ways to include your children in your student journey. For example, make a game out of studying for an exam and let them play with you, or schedule time for you to do your homework together every night. They will love helping you and you will also be setting a great example for their future.
Make Time for Yourself
Everyone knows that being a student is stressful all by itself. Needless to say, things can be a little overwhelming when you add parenthood to the mix. Make an effort to take a night for yourself at least twice a month. Your brain needs a break and you need time to do things you want to do. Go to a concert, see a movie, or go have a spa day. If you take time to take care of yourself, you will feel refreshed and be more able to commit your energy to school and parenting.
Think of the big picture
It is important to remind yourself where your hard work is taking you. In a few semesters, you will graduate from college! Your education has the potential to change your life and your child’s life. So keep going, and push yourself to succeed so your children can see you walk across that stage to receive your diploma. The struggle now is worth the success later.
Being a student and a parent isn’t easy. But, with these tips, we hope that your student-parent journey will be a little less stressful.