Going to College while Raising Kids

Going to college at any time requires forethought and planning. This is especially true for parents. Children need time, interactions, and support from parents, regardless of the circumstances, for school, social activities, and regular guidance. Since time is already at a premium, the demands of family must be taken into account before signing up for college classes.

The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate attending college with parenting. In fact, attending college can provide opportunities for learning outside of the academic content, for both parents and children, when the family is included in the college experience.

Family meeting

The easiest way to garner family support for college is to tell them why you want to go. It can mean a promotion at work, a new career, or it can fulfill a lifelong dream. By sharing the reasons for going to college, family members will be more receptive to the time demands college is bound to make on everyone. 

The family budget

One of the first steps involved with attending college is being able to afford to go. Whether you are using savings, grants, loans, or a combination of financial sources, planning to pay for college can be a great way to include the family in the college experience and teach valuable life lessons at the same time. Depending upon the ages of your children, you can share with them the family budget, the cost of your coursework, and any spending changes that will have to occur.

Visit the campus

Parents can share their excitement about attending college with family members by visiting the campus together. Your children may enjoy lunch at the college cafeteria, feeding campus squirrels, or playing frisbee on the green. By introducing your family to the college, it will be more real to them and make them more supportive of your efforts. In addition, some professors will allow you to bring your child with you to class. This provides your older child with time to do their own homework, or to learn new information along with you.

Schedule

Attending college means homework and homework takes time. Scheduling time for homework, chores, activities, and fun with the family makes it all possible. Older children can be asked to contribute more time to chores in exchange for an allowance. This teaches them the value of earning a wage and frees you up to complete assignments.

Study/play groups

As more and more older adults return to college, many of them face the same difficulties with parenting and studying. Everyone can benefit when college bound parents work together to create study groups that double as play groups. Your children will make new friends and you can enjoy the camaraderie and academic support of your peers.

Childcare, etc

Babysitters, childcare facilities, team activities, family and friends can all be considered as resources for parents attending college. While you study, your children can play with friends, learn a new skill, or visit relatives. By doing this, you get the time you need to study or complete assignments and your child gains social skills.

Online courses

Online courses are a boon to parents attending college. Classes, tests, and assignments can be completed from home while your children are sleeping, attending school, or playing.

Raising children is time-consuming, demanding and rewarding. College can be the same way. Bringing the two together may be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Achieving a college degree yourself may very well be the best way of showing your children about the value of education.