4 Helpful Tips for Parents Returning to School
As a parent, you’re always working to do what is best for your child and hope to set a positive example. Did you know that earning your degree could be that best thing? A study of first-generation college students published by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics shows that children of college-educated parents are much more likely to pursue and complete an undergraduate degree compared to their counterparts with parents that did not attend college.
Jessica Ward was ready to set a positive example for her family and help take her career to the next level by pursuing an advanced degree. Now as a student in the Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) specialty track, she shares her top tips for parents considering advancing their education and returning to school.
1. Find the right fit
When considering a degree program, ask yourself: what challenges will you face as a student and parent? Do you have a job or other daytime responsibilities and need to attend school in the evenings? Perhaps you’d like the flexibility to have additional time outside of the standard degree completion timeline? By choosing a program that is suitable to your needs and wants, you’re more likely to thrive.
“The online convenience of the MSN FNP specialty track is what initially drew me to the program,” Jessica said. “Additionally, it has been helpful to have a variety of start dates throughout the year. I’m able to take a break from courses if I decide to.”
You may even consider a degree program that allows you to grow into your career or make specialty shifts in the event that you want to try something new.
“I have not decided what type of setting it is that I belong in and the MSN FNP specialty track allows me to try several different types of settings,” she added. “If I decide to choose a specialty or focus later, I still have the freedom to go back for a post-master's certification to do something else.”
2. Create a plan
Before starting your courses, look at your current schedule. How do you spend your time after your children are in bed? Is your lunch hour spent scrolling on your phone? By identifying time gaps in your current schedule, you can determine how much of an impact school will have on your life. This time could be spent studying, completing assignments, attending classes or viewing online course materials.
If you notice it is more challenging for you to find consistent blocks of time open in your schedule, an online degree program may better suit your needs.
3. Stay organized
Organization and planning is the glue that keeps our lives together and on track. Organization allows you to determine a study schedule or system that works best for you and that will help you stay on track and succeed in your degree program.
“I have a secret…I still use a paper planner and sticky notes!” Jessica said. “I make to-do lists, reminder notes and plan everything in my planner. It’s the format that has always worked best for me. To take it even further, I like to color code things. This helps me glance at that planner and keep things straight day by day. That doesn’t mean my calendar doesn’t change. I go through whiteout like crazy.”
4. Find your way to unwind
“I like to work out because it makes me feel better physically and emotionally, and it gives me a ton of energy,” Jessica said. “It's important to remember to take care of yourself both during school and after. I also like to travel and take part in outdoor activities, like kayaking and hiking.”
There are several different ways to focus on self-care, including setting a sleep schedule, making time for activities you enjoy, regular exercise, healthy meals and even an at-home pamper session.
By making time for hobbies that help you unwind and prioritizing self-care, you will notice many benefits including a boost in your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care can also help to remind yourself and others that your needs are important too. If you enjoy taking walks, reading or listening to music, make time for those things.
At Chamberlain, we understand that you’re not alone in your journey. You may be bringing along your children, spouse, extended family and even friends. Consider us your educational partner who will be with you from the application stage through graduation and beyond. Are you considering returning to school to further your education? Reach out to an admissions representative here.