Being a parent is rewarding, but stay-at-home moms in particular also find the day-to-day demands of childcare during this period of their lives limits their professional goals. Women who become mothers before earning a college degree are nearly four times as likely to drop out as those without families. Mothers under the age of 20 are less likely to attend college at all. This isn’t surprising- it’s hard enough to keep little people fed, safe, and happy and adding classwork to motherhood can feel overwhelming. There ARE opportunities for education that work with the demands of parenting, however. Read on to learn more.
Level Up Your Degree
Further education doesn’t have to mean enrolling in a full time PhD program- no matter what your current education level is, you can always benefit from another step on the educational ladder. You’ll learn new skills, of course, but taking classes on a regular basis can also help to fill in resume gaps left from being a stay at home mom. In the future, when your kids are bigger and you’re ready to re-enter the workforce, you’ll be a more marketable employee because of your educational timeline.
If you have not yet finished high school, there are GED classes in every state. Many are free or income based. Some many even be offered as online classes to fit your schedule. If you have a high school diploma, look at associates degrees or bachelors from your local community college or an online school. Tuition is usually cheaper than a four-year school, so you can afford to try out a few classes to see if it’s a good fit and you’re likely to meet other young parents working through a similar situation. Already have a bachelor’s and feeling a little bored now that you’re at home watching Elmo? Take a course or two toward a Master’s or as Continuing Education Units in an area you’re interested in.
Flexible Course Schedules
If you have a partner who is able to share the burden of childcare, look for college programs that offer courses on nights or weekends. Particularly if you worked in a professional career before having a baby or if you’re interested in entering a professional career in the future, you will find classes taught by practicing teachers, social workers, nurses, and counselors that take place after the regular work day is done. Some schools offer summer intensive courses that meet every day for a six week session, while others may meet only once a month for the entire year.
It may not be possible to leave your kids long enough to get to a campus for class on a regular basis. Most colleges are now offering online classes that can be taken asynchronously. That means you set the schedule for when you log in to review materials, submit assignments, or contribute to a discussion board. These days, when the one parenting tool every mother has on hand is her phone, that means you can watch a sociology lecture at midnight while you’re awake for a midnight feeding. Or you can work ahead on your English paper on the weekend while your in-laws play with the kids.
Depending on your goals, you may even be able to complete an entire degree online without ever setting foot on a campus. Not only does this offer you the flexibility to fit learning around your children’s schedule, but it also saves your family money in tuition, transportation, and even materials. This can all make taking courses more affordable and achievable for you.
As much as you love being a mom, it can be easy to lose a bit of yourself as you put everyone’s needs before your own. Even if lately it feels like you’ve only been using your brain to memorize every lyric and hand gestures to wheels on the bus, it feels great to remember you’re still capable of more. You’ll share your life-long love of learning with your children and set an example about hard work and goal setting. Enjoy every minute while your kids are young, but there’s no need to neglect your own educational potential. With all the variety of programs, costs, and delivery methods available today, you’re sure to find an educational opportunity that helps you learn AND accommodates your family’s needs.