or sure, adult students/student moms and dads have plenty of disadvantages, but there are some major obstacles you need to tackle should you decide to go back to school.
The major economic downturn which started around 2008, which was accompanied by widespread job losses made many people realize that they needed further education to improve their chances of landing employment.
Even though the economy has picked up since then, adult student enrollment has continued to grow over the year since 2014.
Other than wanting bigger chances of landing employment, more and more adults return to school and pursue a higher degree because they want to move into a higher earning bracket or need specific educational training to further their careers.
Another reason might be because they want to switch career fields completely and need training, license, or degree in the new field, and want to be more competitive in the job market by adding new skills.
Or perhaps they want to return to education because before for one reason or another, they had to take some time off while in school and now they are ready to return.
If one of the reasons above resonates with you, that you’ve been harboring the idea of going back to school for a while now but still have doubt about whether or not you should go back to school, my advice is: go for it!
Several years ago, I went back to school and moved to Italy. Continuing my study abroad and living in Italy has been my lifelong dream.
I resigned from my job shortly after having my baby and become a stay-at-home mom. I decided that I need to go back to school first and upgrade myself, as well as get a degree from a higher educational level to improve my chances of getting hired after being a stay-at-home mom for several years.
Finally, after seriously contemplating and preparing myself mentally and financially, I took the leap and enroll.
I packed my things, and brought my husband and daughter to Italy with me, studying as an adult student, a student mom, and an international student.
I got my degree and a job after I graduated. Now, almost a decade later, we are still here, living our dream, enjoying every moment of it.
Although it’s totally doable, going back to school as an adult, especially if you are also a parent, will definitely be challenging.
Below are the challenges and fears that, if left unaddressed, can cause an adult to abandon all thought of pursuing further studies
1. Financial Problems.
One of the main concerns for adult students and student moms and dads is how they are going to finance their studies.
As an adult with plenty of responsibilities, they might have other things to take care of financially such as their kid’s education, the mortgage, ailing parents, and so on.
Going back to school is not cheap. Furthermore, most likely you don’t want to be saddled with a hefty amount of student loan by the time you graduate, or not willing to jeopardize your family’s finance by using the family’s savings.
Calculate the amount of money you will need to finance your study, all the way from start to finish, from the big expenses down to the smallest ones.
Then you can start to figure out the number you might need to finance your education and how to provide them.
If you need help predicting what kind of expenses you might need for your back-to-school journey, you can check the budget tracker here.
2. Lack of Time
An adult student, especially a student’s mom and dad, will definitely struggle with time. You will find it difficult to manage your time, to divide it between studying, working, and taking care of your family.
As a result, you will feel exhausted, frustrated, inadequate, and so on. It goes without saying that it can be tough to fit school into an already busy lifestyle.
While younger students often orient their lives around campus, older students tend to structure their coursework around their lives.
One of the most common problems you will have to tackle as an adult /older student, and student moms and dads are conflicting schedules, between your study-related schedules, work, and family schedules.
Not only you will need time to study, but you will also need to allocate some time to do group projects/ assignments.
This can be tricky since you must match your schedule with your groupmates and find the best time to meet and work together.
Try to find the best solution for you, ask your teammates if you can leave early to go pick up your child(ren) at school, and send the remaining of your work later from home, for example.
Or ask your spouse to accompany your child(ren) to their swimming classes or doctor appointments. Hire a sitter to take care of your child(ren) when you have to study for your exams and so on. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Most likely they will be willing to help you.
3. Lack of Confidence
When you go back to school, your classmates usually will be significantly younger than you. Some people will only feel awkward and a bit out of place, but many others will have more serious problems.
Many older students, especially the shy ones or the ones with poor social skills, may fear that they won’t fit in with their classmates, and may be ostracized or isolated.
To be honest, going back to school as an older student or a student mom and dad will be difficult for everybody, even for the most extroverted social butterfly and the easy-going ones.
That is because, even though they would love to spend time with their younger classmates after classes, to just relax and have some drinks, for example, they just couldn’t because they don’t have time to do that.
Besides, even if you do have time to spend with your younger classmates because even though you are older students, you’re still single and have plenty of free time, you might still find it quite difficult to fit in.
Most likely, you are already in a different phase of life, have different perspectives and interests from your younger classmates, and as a result, will have difficulty finding common ground and finding conversation topics other than school-related matters.
So don’t worry too much if you are unable to fit in. Just be nice, polite, and respectful. Be yourself and honest about your situation, pretty sure they understand that you have many responsibilities outside school and don’t have time to hang out often with them.
4. Struggling to Keep Up with The Technologies
Almost everything we do today has an atom of technology in it. From our smart devices to advanced computers, and sophisticated engineering equipment – technology is all around us.
In many ways, technology has profoundly changed education. For one, technology has greatly expanded access to education. Today, massive amounts of information (books, audio, images, videos) are available at one’s fingertips through the Internet, and opportunities for formal learning are available online worldwide through different online course platforms, podcasts, traditional online degree programs, and more.
Access to learning opportunities today is unprecedented in scope thanks to technology. Opportunities for communication and collaboration have also been expanded by technology.
As older students, perhaps you might struggle a little bit with the technology used to support your study. I know I did, especially because before I went back to school, I was a stay-at-home mom.
Perhaps I could handle the technology part a lot better if I was working in an office environment before I started my study, at least I would be familiar with some of it.
If you were like me, don’t despair. Learning new technology can be confusing and frustrating, but don’t give up, just keep trying.
One thing you must remember though is when you mess up, don’t try to fix things by yourself because you might end up making things worse.
Stop immediately what you were doing and ask for someone’s help. This will prevent more damage to your device or reduce the risk of losing the hard work that you keep on the device.
5. Overwhelmed with your Workload
Studying is hard, and unlike working where you can leave everything at the office and can be totally relaxed at home, you will have to study and work on your assignments after you finish your classes.
On top of that, you might have to work either full-time or part-time, freelancing, running your business, and so on. Plus, you have a family to take care of.
When you have a lot of things going on on your plate, this could be a problem. Having bad time management and an irregular schedule will only make it worse.
To avoid stress and burnout organize your schedule meticulously. Make a list of the things you need to do at home for your family, for your work, and for your study.
Put on the deadline for each task and make detailed notes on what you need to do to finish each task. Assign specific times to do each and every one of them and stick to it.
Be realistic, don’t put on unreasonable goals. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a positive thing but pushing yourself beyond your limit could jeopardize your health.
So, no matter how heavy your workload is, don’t push yourself too hard or spread yourself too thin. Organize them well so that you don’t have to skip meals (because you don’t have time to eat) or stay up all night.
You have your own goals to achieve, that’s why you want to go back to school in the first place, but then somewhere along the way, you discovered that things are completely different than what you’d hoped before.
It could be anything. In my case, I was a bit disappointed when a career path shown in my program, back when I went back to school, seems to incline more to a certain field in my industry that I had no interest in. Other than that, I felt like most of the opportunities provided are not a good fit for me.
I started to think perhaps I made a mistake joining this specific course, and lose motivation for a while before pulling myself back up and trying to figure out how to pivot toward my interest.
Your disappointment will be different but trust me, you will have them, in one way or another, whether it’s something big or a small one.
It’s completely ok to be disappointed and lose motivation occasionally, but don’t dwell, work on the solution as soon as you can to put yourself back on track and move your way up, one step at a time, and be closer to your goal.
7. Lack of Support
As older students, it’s easy to feel like you are completely out of your element and feel lonely most of the time. Not many people get you, and they definitely don’t understand what you have to go through.
That is simply because going back to school when we are older, as adult students or student moms and dads is not a choice many people would make.
I personally refuse to believe that. I believe there are many older students like me who had been older students once, and now they are thriving somewhere, enjoying better careers and quality of life after returning to school and getting their advanced degrees.
They are difficult to find, that’s all. Especially if they are still trying to finish school. Most likely they won’t have time to socialize and try to find other older students to hang out with, face-to-face or on social media.
That is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Hopefully, older students, student moms, and dads could find each other here and share their stories and help each other out.
So, yeah, try to find any support you could have. From your spouse, your family, your friends, classmates, colleagues, and even strangers on social media.
It could be anything, in any form. Simply by them being understanding when you must leave early or arrive late already enough for older students like you.
Starting out on a new study program can be worrisome for most people, but it can seem daunting for adults. You can benefit from a support system to help you overcome your concerns.
Over to You…
Even though going back to school as older students or even as student moms and dads are totally doable, there are some obstacles you will need to overcome if you want to succeed and make the most of your back-to-school journey.
You might encounter financial problems, suffers from the lack of time and lack of confidence, struggle with new technologies, be overwhelmed with your workload and have disappointments here and there, and feel down from the lack of support.
As someone who had been there and done that, all I could say is you should try to do your best, but don’t be too hard on yourself.
Things will not be perfect, and it’s completely ok. You know for sure you could get better grades, deliver better work assignments, contribute more to group projects, and so on.
Things also not looking very good in your home. You will feel guilty for not being able to spend more time with your child(ren) and your spouse. The house is always a mess, you missed your daughter and son’s game, and so on.
Embrace the imperfection. You need to accept that there are plenty of things that will not go as planned, since you practically have one foot inside and the other outside the house all the time.
By doing so, you will be able to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure of going back to school, and someday, you will be able to look back on your journey with pride, knowing that no matter how hard things could be, you keep moving forward and never give up.
What do you think? Do you agree with what I described above? Feel free to share your thoughts down below. Pin it and share it on social media if you find it useful
Thanks so much and till next time !!!
- 5 Fascinating reasons why a mom should go back to school
- 6 Surprising Ways College Will be Easy for You When You Go Back to School as Student Moms and Mature Students
- 6 Parenting Skills That Surprisingly Will Help You Excel in your Back-to-School Journey
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