Never Too Late: Back to School Lessons

April 3, 2012

Today, only 27 percent of working adults in the U.S. have a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but that number should increase as more adults are returning to the classroom to help further their careers in a down economy. To make the smoothest transition to a balanced family-career-study schedule, parents returning to school should take care to garner the support of their spouse and children.

For adults, “Going back to school is really a family decision and takes commitment and effort from every family member,” says Dr. Lisa Kincaid, a professor of psychology at Strayer University.

According to Dr. Kincaid, the following are some essential tips for adults to consider when returning to college:

  • Tap into your network – Single parents can create a network of support consisting of friends and extended family to help them achieve their goal of earning a degree. Do not be afraid to ask for help with important household considerations, such as childcare.
  • Make your children part of the team – Children love to have a sense of responsibility and to be helpful to their parents. Explain your educational goals to them and help them understand how they can help you succeed. Group study sessions are one way to create a parent-child bond.
  • Plan ahead – Take inventory of your home logistics: chores, meals, childcare, children’s activities and exercise routines. Make a plan for a shift in the division of responsibilities while you are in school. Make sure everyone involved – spouses, children, extended family and friends – understand their role.
  • Review the family budget – How will the cost of college affect the family budget? Will you pay for it out of savings, borrow money or does your employer offer a tuition reimbursement program? There are many options to help pay for school today. Have discussions with school advisers and others to determine what makes the most sense for you.
  • Consider your present lifestyle – Returning to school will require a commitment to spend some of the time you were devoting to other activities, including your children’s extracurricular activities, on attending classes, studying and completing assignments. If you have been out of school for a while, getting back into the habit of studying will likely take a focused effort on the part of the entire family.

What’s Driving the Back-to-School Trend?
Research shows that adults with a bachelor’s degree have an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, nearly half the 10.3 percent unemployment rate of individuals with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition, bachelor’s degree holders also make at least 40 percent more in weekly earnings than their counterparts with only a high school diploma, according to the BLS.

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