"I'm just not busy enough..." Hah.
Somewhere between diaper changes, soccer practice, a full time job, and planning dinners for the week, you decided – “you know, I’m just not busy enough. I think I am going to start taking some classes….” With a family, career, and an already full schedule, packing up and going to a four-year school might not be in the cards. But whether you are looking to change or advance in your career, to pick up where you left off, or to continue your unending love for learning, enrolling in your local community college can quench your thirst for knowledge while providing a flexible schedule.
In addition to the flexibility that comes with community colleges, you can also look forward to a diverse student population.
In addition to the flexibility that comes with community colleges, you can also look forward to a diverse student population. As an adult, we may feel hesitant to go back to school, worried about being the “old” person in the class, but community colleges are home so many different kinds of students from those of various backgrounds, to others with different goals and long term plans. In any given class there will be students like you with action figures and Cheerios in their backpacks, as well as younger students that have fresh ideas and big transfer plans.
But how do you do it? Where can you find the time to read “Crime and Punishment” as well as “The Cat in the Hat”?
7 Tips for Adults Going Back-to-School
As one who tackled these new “back to school” jitters, here are some strategies that worked for me that you can add to your own arsenal of tools.
Wake up earlier – this may be easier said than done (as my son has decided 5:20AM is a great time to get up!), but if you can find yourself an extra half hour in the morning, you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. Or if you are a night owl, stay up a little later – not hours by any means, but again a half hour of peace to yourself in the evening is a beautiful thing.
Make lists. If you know what needs to be done and when, you can better visualize your week and make arrangements as needed. Your technique can vary depending on the type of learner that you are. I kept my work calendar up to date with both school and professional obligations while handwriting down small things that needed to be done from picking up milk to making copies of articles for class.
Multitask. Parents are typically masters of this but consider downloading audiobooks for your commute to work or reviewing notes during your child’s soccer practice.
Prepare meals on Sundays and worship your crockpot. If you can make 2 or 3 meals on Sunday that can be heated through the week, this can save you tons of time and stress. In addition, those "set it and forget it" meals in a crockpot can be heavenly if you are short on time.
- With your employer. There may be times where work and school conflict or become overwhelming (think: finals). If your employer is aware you are adding on a new, academic challenge to your life – you may get some flexibility into your schedule. Or, some employers encourage such initiative, and pay for your courses.
- With your family. Tell your children that you are going to school too and have homework like they do. Depending on their age, you may all be able to sit down together. Homework + family time = win!
- With yourself. Taking a full course load might seem fantastic so you can knock out a degree in a few short years, but might not be realistic as there are so many hours in the day. Online courses are a great way to get in extra credits and study on your own time as well as hybrid courses which allow you to attend class part time and use resources the rest of the semester.
Ask for help! We know you are a super parent – that is obvious. But even Batman had Robin. If you are extra stressed and have spousal support, encourage an ice cream night out while you catch up on school work at home or ask a friend if he/she could watch your children for an hour or so. Remember, it takes a village to not only raise a family, but also to raise a scholar.
Breathe. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and plenty of hugs and kisses from your kids when you need a pick me up!
Other tips to share with our super parents? Please add them in the comments below!