School After Kids: The Pros and Cons


The Pros

1. Career Advancement

Whether it means earning a GED, a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, reaching the next academic tier might help you climb the career ladder in your field and secure your family's financial future. When you're a parent, you may be reluctant to risk the stability of the status quo. Therefore, it's important to consider if and how a specific degree can help your career.

2. Diversifying Your Skills

Even if the degree you're considering won't help in your current profession, it may provide an opportunity to broaden your skills or transition to a new career. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, you might ensure a more stable life for your kids by going back to school.

3. Alternative Education Options

Some people avoid college before having kids because of the costs, including full-time tuition, room and board, and books and supplies. As a parent, however, there are many education options that benefit your lifestyle. These include online education, where classes may be asynchronous, and part-time programs, where you can earn a degree with the flexibility you require.

4. Seizing an Opportunity

Stay-at-home parents may relish the opportunity to return to school - they can get out of the house and challenge themselves intellectually. For working parents, an employer might provide tuition assistance, thereby providing helpful cost savings.

5. Setting an Example

By returning to school, you're showing your children the value of education. You can also model good study habits and a positive attitude about learning. Regardless of your children's age, knowing you made the commitment to further your education can be inspiring.

6. More Assistance and Special Programs

Many schools provide specialized programs just for college students who are also parents. These programs sometimes offer financial assistance and scholarship opportunities, housing assistance, child care assistance and support groups with other parents.

The Cons

1. Cost

If you're a parent on a tight budget, you should factor in the various expenses and understand how they might affect your life. In addition to tuition and fees, parents need to consider potential childcare costs. These costs can sometimes be mitigated by attending classes online, during the school day or when family or friends are available to help.

2. Time

Without question, returning to school will require an investment of time. As a parent, this can mean missing important time with your children. As you weigh the pros and cons, this may be a substantial con, particularly when your children are very young. A good way to minimize this impact is to study online or asynchronously, so that you can complete as much work as possible while your children are at school or asleep.

3. Indecision

Before you decide to return to school, be sure you know why you want to go. While this is true whether or not you're a parent, it's especially important when you have kids. Returning to school will have a major impact on your family. Be sure you have a compelling reason to go back.

4. Readjusting to School

Many parents who return to school find it difficult to get comfortable with both the intellectual and social demands of school life. It's common to fixate on the idea of returning to school while avoiding some of the more practical issues. A good way to anticipate this is to visit a local campus, and consider taking a course to see how easily you readjust.

5. Saturated Job Market

Take the time to analyze trends in your local job market. For example, it may be best to avoid the most popular programs at your local college or university if those programs are producing a surplus of graduates relative to the local area's need. Or, if your town is overflowing with chiropractors, many of whom struggle to stay in business, it may be a good field to avoid.

Getting ready to apply to college? Check out these key terms involved in the application process.

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