In this episode of The Productive Woman, we discuss returning to school as an adult and how to balance your studies with your work and family responsibilities, while still making time for yourself. I also share my own experience as a returning adult student.
Returning to school isn't easy, but it's possible to balance your responsibilities and still make time for what matters most.
There was a question raised recently about going to school as an adult. Specifically, I was asked to talk about my experience as a college student and then a law student as an adult, while still raising a family.
First, some stats about adult students
* “According to EAB, a research firm in the education sector, 38 percent of undergraduates are considered adult learners—i.e. older than 25. This number of adult undergraduates is projected to grow 21 percent by 2022. Adults going back to college to add to their existing degrees or finish degrees they once started is becoming increasingly common.” [from 7 Reasons Adult Learners are Going Back to School]
Several articles note that a majority of adult students returning to college after an absence are women.
It's never too late to go back to school--several articles described students between the ages of 25 and 69.
There are lots of reasons to return to school--to change careers, improve opportunities for advancement, updating skills or developing new skills and expertise, finishing a degree that was started sometime before, or going for an advanced degree (graduate or professional school), or maybe you've reached a stage in life when you can afford the time and expense of college.
My experience (and my daughter's) as an adult student
I started college at 20 (already married) and did a year of undergrad, during which my first child was born. We moved across the country (twice) then I went back to school for another year after our second child was born. Ten years and 2 kids later, I went back to school to finish undergrad. Our 5th child was born a couple of weeks after finals of my junior year. I then went directly to law school when our oldest was 14 and our youngest was 1.
Interestingly enough, 20+ years later, our oldest daughter is doing the same. She started college right out of high school but after a couple of years of school she married and started a family, then last year went back to school to finish a degree in preparation to be a teacher. She turned 40 this year and she and her husband have 4 daughters. I asked her for her thoughts on the experience, some of which I’ll share later. One thing she mentioned that’s better now as an older student than when she was just out of high school: “I have better time management skills now and I’m more focused. I’m more motivated to do well so I’m not wasting my time or money.” She said she likes being in school now much more than she did when she was younger. She knows why she’s there and what she wants so she is more focused and not distracted by friends and “college life” and what everybody else is doing.
Specific challenges adult students face
* Balancing life and school--you might need to balance your family responsibilities, or maybe even a job. This is one of the things Rachel mentioned as being the big challenge.
Lack of funds--you might not qualify for loans, and already have a budget filled with a mortgage, car payments, braces for the kids, etc.
Lack of confidence--you may struggle with thinking, "What if I’m not cut out for college?