Going to school is hard. Being a parent is hard.
Combine the two and it’s not exactly a peanut butter and chocolate sort of match. People do it, and they even find ways to do it well, but the road ahead is tricky.
To find success you not only need to be a bright student, but you also need to become an expert at organization and time management.
Here Are Five Prime Keys To Succeed In College As A Parent
In this article, we take a look at how to succeed in college as a parent.
1. Consider Online Courses
Online courses in their infancy came with a bit of skepticism. College historically was always something that happened on campus, in a place filled with large buildings, and kids learning how to do laundry for the first time in their lives.
In the decades since, online colleges first emerged as a concept, much of the stigma surrounding it has gone away. Now, virtually all mainstream universities offer online courses, and exclusively online schools are just as prestigious as their brick-and-mortar alternatives. Moreover, with the evolution of A.I. and AR technology, the future of education will look much different than it does now.
But why should you as a parent and student consider an online university? Flexibility is one major reason. Online courses often allow their participants to complete work on the schedule that is most convenient for them. As long as you complete your assignments for the week, you’re fine, regardless of what time you did them.
You’ll also save an enormous amount of time on transportation. The average commute in the United States is thirty minutes. There and back, that’s an hour every day, for four years (minimum).
Think of all the time you lose just behind the wheel of your car! By opting for online classes, you save time you will definitely be glad you had once the school work starts to pick up.
2. Take Advantage of Your Support Systems
While parenting doesn’t come with built-in breaks, you may have people in your life who are willing to help, either around the house or with your children. Your partner. Your parents. Your partner’s parents. It doesn’t matter who the person is.
If you trust them, and they are offering to help, take advantage. Even just an hour here or there can give you the chance to catch up on your assignments, or just get a few necessary things done around the house.
3. Set Reasonable Expectations
It’s important to look at your situation for what it is. College is a challenging time for almost everyone, and you are doing it at a stage of life that adds further complications. Parenting is a full-time job in its own right. You may also have a job that you need to support your family.
These things will make your educational experience harder than that of, say, a nineteen-year-old kid with no job, and only a very vague understanding of what student loans even are.
So, what are you saying here? Accept that I might not be able to do it.
Hardly! You can do it. You will do it! What we’re saying is that your journey is different than that of some. That could mean taking night classes. It could mean starting and stopping, or taking longer than average to get your degree. Just remember, there’s no right or wrong way to go about doing this.
Even trying to get a degree as a parent is an incredible feat. You will cross the finish line eventually.
4. Accept that You Will Need to Make Sacrifices
That Netflix show you wanted to start? Sorry. Now’s not the time to start binging Stranger Things. One of the most difficult but simultaneously necessary skills that the parent in college needs is to be able to find a time where one previously thought there was none.
Some of this time may come at the expense of your sleep, but you want to avoid that as much as possible. Remember, college is a marathon, not a sprint. You may be at this for four or more years. You can’t risk burning yourself out early on.
Instead, take a hard look at your schedule and figure out what you are willing to sacrifice. Some of those choices may be tough — dates with your partner, outings with friends, playtime with your children. But before you cut close to the bone, look for fat to trim.
The average American adult spends several hours a day on their cell phone. And while some of that time is used productively (we assume) a healthy portion of it goes to social media. Most adults also watch several hours of television a day.
If you are looking for more study time, these are two areas where you might find more time in your schedule than you previously thought.
Once you’ve trimmed out the frivolities, you’ll need to make more challenging choices about what you are willing to sacrifice. Do you accept missing family gathers for your schoolwork, or do you allow that your degree might take longer than average to get and attend functions as you normally have?
That’s a decision every college student/parent must make for themselves.
5. Practice Self-Care
Self-care can sound indulgent. A luxury that people who actually need care don’t have time for. Here’s the deal — if you aren’t meeting your own needs, you aren’t going to have enough gas in the tank for anything else.
Do you know how you’re supposed to first, put your own oxygen mask in an airplane? That’s because you can’t do anyone else any good if you’re blacked out in your seat. The same goes for college.
Yes. If you are exhausted and burnt out all the time, you won’t be hitting your full potential at home or at school. Work as hard as you can in the classroom (even if the said room is just your dining table) but know your limits.
Prioritize sleep, get exercise, eat right. Take care of yourself. Education and the employment opportunities that they provide are long-term propositions. Sleep today so that you might study better tomorrow.
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