Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Post: 7 Questions Moms Should Ask Themselves Before Returning to School

Hey Lovelies!

Today, we have a treat on Mommy Delicious! A few weeks ago, I was contacted by one of the editors of Pounding The Pavement, a Career Education blog for young professionals. As a full time graduate student and a young mother, it is very important to me to become a competent professional so that I can climb that career ladder.

I remember when I was considering applying to grad school and during my actual application process -- I kept wondering if I was making the right decision at the right time for my son and me. Ultimately, I decided that it was, in fact, the right decision. So when I received my acceptance letters, I mailed out that tuition deposit faster than a kid opens Christmas presents! And although it's been tough taking 5 classes each semester and having an internship and working and being a mother (hello Starbucks!), I'm doing it. And I'm happy.

So with next semester right around the corner, and registration/application deadlines quickly approaching, here are 7 questions moms should ask themselves before returning to school (or attending for the first time).

When I was seven months pregnant, I graduated with my Master’s degree. At the time, I thought that if I was blessed to stay home with my baby even for a short time while my husband worked, a Master’s degree would benefit me when I re-entered the workforce. My employer was also willing to pay a portion of my tuition. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would have two more children and ultimately be out of the full-time workforce for almost 15 years. I also didn’t realize back then that when I was ultimately ready to go back to work, I would not want to go back to the same career.

Now I am looking to go back to school to find out what I want to be when I grow up. My children are at the ages that they are more self-sufficient so I could devote more time to my studies. However, the baby that I carried the last time I was in school is now getting ready to go to college and pursue his own dreams. Will we really be able to afford for both of us to be in school at the same time?

There are several questions that moms, in particular, need to ask themselves before returning to school. The first question is how will my decision affect my family? Because, as a mom, our family is our first priority so we have to really assess how our decision to go back to school will affect our loved ones. Another question that we need to ask is will childcare be an issue? When you factor the cost of your education, you need to factor in all of the costs associated with your education, including childcare. The benefit in today’s educational sphere is that now we have the option of pursing an on-line degree and we never have to leave home. The world literally is our classroom and on-line degree programs are available in every possible field. Check out this link to find out more about these programs.

Another question that you need to ask yourself before enrolling in any program is what are my reasons for returning to school? You need to check your motive to make sure that it is the right motive, one that will sustain you in those times it may get difficult balancing school and family. And then you need to ask yourself who am I doing this for? Again, make sure that your motive is correct so that you won’t burn out halfway through the program. The right motive can provide the drive needed to keep going when you may feel like giving up.

Another question that I wish I had asked myself 16 years ago is will this degree give me some options? Everyone makes several lateral career moves throughout their lifetime and many of change careers completely at least once. I wish I had thought through my degree and asked myself what else I could do with the Masters I had chosen. For example, a Master’s in some disciplines will give you the opportunity to teach on a university level as an adjunct at some schools. This is an excellent option for moms who want to teach but cannot commit to a full-time position.

The next question you should ask yourself is how long am I willing to be in school? Again, considering your family commitments, factor in all of your present commitments and set a realistic goal for yourself. And the final question you need to address concerns finances: how will I pay for schooling? If you research different options, particularly distance learning versus traditional college, you will find that many institutions and degree programs vary in cost. An assessment of your personal financial situation can help you determine which program is right for you.

Going back to school at any age, at any time in your life is a big decision. But it is also, in my opinion, one of the best decisions that you will ever make. My kids tease me that I have a Master’s degree so that I could change diapers. But in reality, my degree has opened many doors for me that have allowed me to pursue other dreams that I didn’t even know I had 16 years ago!

Kathy Rothaar is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on online career training for the Guide to Career Education.



  1. I'm also juggling being a mother, employee, and student. It is really hard to juggle, but education has always been a priority for myself and my daughter as well. I've been busting my butt for years now and even transferred to a reputable university last year because I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to make the most of my education. I know my student loans will be sky-high when I graduate next year, but that cannot be my worry. I've continued my higher learning because having an education will be able to provide more for my daughter. It will provide more opportunities, and it will also be a true accomplishment for me.

  2. Great post because I'm going back to school next month. I know it's going to be hard but it is definitely needed. In order to catapult my family to a different level, I have to start now. Wish me luck :)

  3. I'm also in graduate school for the second and final time (at least I hope so) and this post is perfect for others considering juggling the role of single parenting and school and work and having a small social life and whatever other demands are placed on us. One of my deciding factors was dealing with my son becoming a tween and the realization kicking me in the gut that he won't need me full time forever so I'll need a life after. I did some goal setting for after his high school years and I'm back in school to position myself for that time. Wishing you and Aiden all the best!


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