By Sarah Wright
Part-Time Education is an Option!
'Traditional' college students attend school full-time. But we live in a world that's a lot different than it was when this 'tradition' was established. These days, many students don't have the option to go to school full time. For some, it's just not economically feasible. And others don't want to attend school full time even if they can.
These days, it's totally normal to only be able to commit to a part-time school schedule. No matter what your reason, be it working, raising a family or any of the many other things that can make it impossible to spend the majority of your time as a student, it's completely possible earn a degree or certificate on a part-time basis. In order to have your experience be a success, though, you'll need to do a bit more thinking and strategizing than a 'traditional' student might have to.
Make a Plan
The first thing you'll need to do as a part-time student is to make some decisions, do your research and make a plan. Do you want to earn a credential, like a degree, or just take a few classes? Can you find classes that will fit your schedule? There are a lot of options for part-time students, including online and evening classes offered through local community colleges and universities, so it's likely that you'll be able to make it work. You just need to make sure you're aware of what challenges you'll be facing so you don't get blindsided and thrown off track.
Take School Seriously
Next, you'll want to prioritize. Even if you have other things to do, you still need to make school a priority. It probably can't be your top priority, especially if you're a parent, but it should come before less important things. Do your homework and study for tests. Being a part-time student doesn't mean you don't have to work at it. Plus, since you've got such a busy schedule anyway, it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend time and money on classes and just slack off. Get the most out of your classes, and make sure you are doing what you need to do to meet your goals.
Find the Right Setup
It's likely that you're going to need some sort of external support while you're taking classes. Whether it's asking a friend to watch your kids once a week while you study, or finding a co-worker willing to cover for you during exam times, having a good support system in place will help you succeed as a part-time student. You might have to go through a process of trial-and-error at first, but if you keep your eye on the prize, you'll find a way to succeed. If you work, let your boss know before you enroll that you're thinking about taking some classes. That way, he or she will know in advance that you're trying to accomplish something important, and might be understanding enough to allow you some flexibility with your schedule.
Worried that being a parent will also make it hard for you to pursue your career? Learn how some moms have managed to have it all.