Attending College: Moms Can Do It, Too!

Woman sitting at computer in homeWhether you dropped out when you got pregnant, never quite made it to school, or had no intention of going in the first place, you may have been thinking about continuing education since the birth of your baby.  With parenthood comes a brand new perspective on life, one that makes you wonder if you really are doing the best for yourself and your child.  After all, you want to provide for them in the best manner possible, which could mean staying home, meeting your earning potential, or both.  But you also want to be a good role model.  You want them to grow up knowing that you value education and were willing to work hard to attain it yourself.  In other words, you don’t want to spout the “do as I say, not as I do” rhetoric.  So what’s stopping you?

Although it is certainly difficult to consider attending school while you have an infant (in many cases, impossible would be a better assessment), you have many opportunities as they get older.  If you’re planning to return to work anyway (placing your child in daycare), why not trade in a paycheck for a scholarship, grant, or student loan and go back to school instead?  If spending a little time away does not present a hardship for you, then attending a local school should not be any more problematic than working (and some jobs are willing to help pay for classes if you continue to work part of the time).  If you’re just starting out, you can even save a little money (and time) by looking into community college.  It is not only drastically cheaper that state school, it may also be closer to home, it provides the same general education classes you would be taking at a four year school, and often, courses are offered at several times to accommodate working students.  But if that sounds like too much of a hassle, there are other alternatives.

The best option by far for many new mothers is distance education (DE), which basically equates to an online university (you’ve all seen the commercials for University of Phoenix).  There are many choices, but you’ll want to find one that caters to your area of interest, as some tend to specialize in certain subjects.  And while they mainly offer online services, some will provide resident training at the local level when applicable.  It is also important to find out if the school you’re considering is accredited.  A good way to know for sure is to search The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.  They hold all schools to the same strict standards, so you want to make sure the one you choose has their seal of approval (this may be important if you continue on to post-graduate studies).  There are other bodies that offer accreditation (a search will likely turn up the Board of Online Universities Accreditation, or BOUA), but they are often not affiliated with or recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, so beware of their claims.

There really are a lot of flexible options for new mothers seeking a continuing education, so check out what’s available both in your area and online.  And don’t be afraid to start slow and take your time.  It’s not a race.  Do whatever you have to, even if it means taking only one or two classes per semester, to complete your coursework and earn a degree.  You won’t be sorry when you nab that high-paying job, or when you look your teenager son or daughter in the eye and tell them, “If I can do it, so can you!”

Ryan Patridge is a writer for Grants for College. Ryan also gives advice on the pursuit of higher education and career options for young adults.

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