For an adult with a family, getting back to school is a big decision. How will your loved ones be impacted by the change? What effect will it have on daily routines? Can you and your family work together to make this dream a reality?
These are important questions to ask as you return to the path of academic achievement. Being prepared isn’t just about schedules, books, and tuition. It’s about setting the stage for success where it matters most–within the family unit. Here are ten steps to follow to make your return to school a success the whole family can celebrate.
- Break the news early.
Don’t wait for an acceptance letter to tell your family about your plans. Instead, make them a part of the process from the very beginning. Let them know you’ve been thinking about going back to school. Talk about what it would mean for you and for them. Keep them informed during the research and application stages. Seek their feedback, and talk it through together. This way, when the first day of class rolls around, a solid foundation is already in place.
- Put your daily planner to work.
The demands of your coursework–and the impact it has on family life–will change from week to week. Your course assignment list contains valuable information that can help you plan more carefully. Combine this with detailed planning of family obligations, and you’ll be surprised how effectively you can map things out. It makes a big difference when you and your family know what to expect on a given day or week.
- Remind your family (and yourself) that it’s all worth it.
Planning and communicating will help to create a more positive experience for everyone in the family; but the fact is, your personal reserves of time and energy will be stretched beyond the norm. Remind your family–and yourself–that the situation is temporary, and that reaching this important milestone will be worth it in the end.
- Keep them involved.
A common mistake is to try and separate coursework from family life. This is a missed opportunity. By involving family members in your studies, you can build knowledge while strengthening family bonds. Ask your loved ones to help you study for exams and quizzes (flashcards are a great tool) and, to the extent that the assignment permits, help you with an upcoming presentation. They can help track your progress, and even find clever ways to reward you for a job well done!
- Talk about your classes.
Parents are well-known for asking their kids what they learned at school that day. Now is the time to turn the tables. Keep your family engaged in your academic progress by sharing an interesting fact or theory you picked up in class. This can spark lively dinnertime discussion, and it might inspire your kids to say more about what’s going on in their own coursework.
- Make study time a shared event.
If you have school-aged children, you won’t be the only person in the house who needs to hit the books on a given night. If possible, make study time into a shared family event. This can add an extra layer of motivation to your shared pursuit of academic goals.
- Find small opportunities to maximize study time.
If time is short, it helps to find small study windows and exploit them. When driving home from work, listen to audio notes from your coursework. When using public transit, absorb yourself in reading. Recorded lectures and audio notes are another great way to strengthen your grasp of the coursework while doing everyday chores.
- Practice self-care.
Building self-care practices into your weekly routine (e.g. yoga, nature walks, or even the occasional visit to a massage therapist) may help to keep your stress levels down and your energy reserves up.
- Be an inspiration.
Your decision to go back to school can serve as an inspiration to the household. Is your spouse also considering a career change? Do you have a child who wants to join a team or extracurricular activity? Following your own dreams might just give your loved ones the extra push they need to do the same.
- Always make time for family.
When school starts, spending quality with your family becomes even more important. Set aside time for a trip to the movies, the park, or a sporting event. Join together for dinner as much as possible. Keep in mind that it’s not all about school. This will go a long way toward achieving the balance you and your loved ones need.
A supportive school makes a difference
Kelley Everett, founder of Youth Angel Scholars Incorporated, had this to say of her experience at Strayer University: “I returned to school shortly after giving birth to my daughter, and completed my graduate degree upon the birth of my son. It took a tremendous amount of time management, balance, and patience, but Strayer University staff supported me every step of the way! I never saw my education as something that would take time away from my family or business. Strayer always encouraged me to view my education from a holistic approach and as something we all could accomplish together."
Working a job and having a family doesn’t mean your academic goals are out of reach. With the right approach, the next great milestone is closer than you think.
Learn about Strayer University degree programs and their unique programs to help adults balance the demands of school, work, and family life. Or call an admissions officer at 877-445-7180.