I turned 42 this year. While my age may imply I may have the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, I sure don’t feel as if I know everything.
Not even close.
In fact, when I think 42, that movie, you know the one, about Jackie Robinson comes to mind. Forgive me, I have baseball on the brain. That’s part of the problem. I’m a Mom, even worse, a baseball Mom. My son, who is still in high school, plays and while you might be thinking that shouldn’t take up that much of my time, well, I hate to be rude, but you would be wrong. He plays almost year round, and I attend every game I can get to. I take my turn hosting team dinners, and participating in fundraisers. It’s never ending, but I love every minute.
Why do I share this story? I recently had an epiphany, I should go back to school!
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t an epiphany, more like an inspired idea due to the onslaught of back to school commercials invading my TV screen.
I’m confident that I’m not the first Mom in her 40’s contemplating returning to a life of education.
Let me be clear, I’m not considering heading back to campus so I can live the dorm life, go to parties, join clubs, and attend all kinds of events. Hey, I didn’t do that the first time I went to college.
So, as always, when I’m pondering one of life’s questions, I turn to the internet for research. I stumbled upon these answers to a poll , discussing how parents are finding it easier to head back to school and also what their motivating factors might be. It was given to online students from Arizona State University. It’s not a surprise to me, but with the convenience of online education and an abundance of outstanding choices, more moms are willing, and even more so, have a desire, to head back to school.
Furthermore, parents who head back to school say their top three motivating factors are potential career advancements, taking care of their family, and achieving new levels of personal growth. However, trust me, I’m not ignoring the fact that going back to school now would include a specific set of challenges. I’m sure you know what I’m referring to, the juggling act of attending classes, managing homework, potentially navigating a full time job complete with kids and household responsibilities.
So, if you are seriously considering heading back to school, invest some time into considering the following incredibly valid points:
Tick Tock, Tick Tock – Going back to school mid-life is bound to have a few more time commitments than the average 18-year-old will have when they head off to school. Do you have the time? Honestly. Even online school can siphon off a colossal amount of time from your already dwindling day, there is homework, group projects, and long-term assignments. Will you still be working while trying to attend school? Sit down and visit with your family about how you plan to balance your time. The kids could worry that mom won’t be able to attend as many of their events and dad could be panicked that he has to become King of the Carpool, in your potential absence.
Money, Money, Money – Can you afford the tuition? Are you ready to shoulder the burden of more student loans? Have you paid off any previous loans you accumulated? What about student loans and a mortgage, do those two mix? Potentially the strategy is, after completing this advanced phase of education, your end game is to obtain a job with a higher salary, which can in turn pay off those newly acquired loans. Ensure that you understand all the requirements of the loan, such as, will your eligibility for the loan depend on your grades? If so, can you maintain the required GPA? Don’t rule out potential hidden costs. Will you need additional daycare for the kids? Maybe the strategy, no the dream, is to hire someone else to clean the toilets and vacuum up the dog hair. Will you end up working less to accommodate for school and homework?
GOALS! (Said in my best soccer announcer voice) – Is your end game goal just to acquire the education itself, for personal satisfaction? Or do you need to go back to school so you can become a lawyer or even a doctor? Are you looking to change your career path completely? Do your career goals require that piece of paper, proving that you graduated? Or could a few simple classes to the trick? It’s OK to visit with a college and/or career counselor to help you with those questions.
To be honest, after sitting down and giving this some serious thought, I still don’t know what my answer will be. Time will tell.
C.A. Newberry, a retired Communications & Events Coordinator, has a passion for continued learning. She spent years advising small businesses and mentoring youth in her community. If she is not at her computer, you can find her at the ballpark with her family. Connect with her on Twitter.
Back to School? One Mom’s Journey to an Educational Decision
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