7 Tips for Parents Going to College

 
Resource Photo - 7 Tips for Parents Going to College

If you’re a parent who has made the difficult decision to go back to college like Mandy O’Neill, a 47-year-old single mother of one child, you are not alone. A 2017 Institute of Women’s Policy Research report has shown that 26 percent or 4.8 million of the American college population go back to school while caring for dependent children.

O’Neill, a nursing student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, said with two jobs and a teenage daughter, time management is a struggle. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If you’re trying to balance your finances and homework and wondering how you will get through, student services at CVTC offer some guidance.

How to afford it

  • Put time and effort into writing quality scholarship applications.

  • Ask about local resources and grants.

  • Work on campus! This is a great way to reduce time spent driving to a job and get experience working in a professional setting.

  • Utilize food pantries on campus, free meals at schools, and emergency grants if an unexpected cost becomes a hardship.

How to manage time

  • Create a schedule that includes class and time to study and do coursework. If you don’t have enough time, reduce your credits. “There is no right way or one way to get that degree,” said Rachel Erickson, CVTC Student Central Advisor. “Go after it with the time you have.” Schedules need to include time for travel, class, study, work, family, and your children’s schoolwork and activities. Don’t forget sleep, exercise, and fun!

  • Lean into your support system. Look into carpooling with families who have children at the same school or in the same activities.

  • Use organizers and planners! Keep yourself organized and aware of what is coming up to keep anxiety at bay.

And give yourself grace, Erickson said.

“I often tell students when there is a crisis or huge problem in our lives, they can either approach it with a mindset of being our own best friend and being kind to ourselves as we navigate and problem solve, or we can be our own worst enemy,” Erickson said. “We often gravitate towards criticizing ourselves in ways that we would never do to another human. In the end, we feel defeated before we have even begun.”

Erickson said anxiety and worry are usually caused by the underlying feeling that we don’t have what it takes or the resources to handle a situation.

“Remind yourself that you do have what it takes, and there are resources for you,” she said. “Growth and change only come when there is a challenge. Most students doubt themselves. That is normal, but after a certain point, you must remind yourself that you are worth the effort.”

O’Neill of Lake Hallie, who is a 1998 CVTC graduate from the Medical Laboratory Technician program, has been working on obtaining her nursing degree by taking a couple of classes a semester. She plans to graduate from the program in 2023.

“CVTC has amazing resources available for all students,” she said. “There are many classes offered at times that I can work into my schedule. It was a tough decision to go back to school, but I’m so proud of myself for pushing forward.”


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