As adults, choosing to return to college, whether to finish a bachelor’s or get a graduate degree, is a choice that often impacts more than just you. You likely now have a job, a partner or spouse, and children. All who require your time are affected by decisions you make. So it’s important, when planning a return to college, to make sure your family is aware of the impact your return to college will have on them, and how they can best help you succeed as a student.
Here are some tips on what to do and why:
- Share your goal
Let your family know why returning to college is important to you. This will allow them to better support you as you progress through your coursework, and will provide a great example for your children about setting goals and working hard to achieve them.
- Ask for help
Once you start taking classes, you’re going to spend anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a week per course on coursework. This means many fewer hours to do things you used to spend time doing. Talk with your family so together you can identify ways they can help you free up that time. You may have to occasionally skip a child’s ball game, or your family may change up a weeknight dinner, but everyone will know up-front what they can do to help you be reach your goal.
- Set boundaries – and keep them
In the beginning it’s easy for family members to forget we need time each day and week to complete our coursework and take exams. Letting them know when you are not interruptible – and enforcing this rule – is difficult at first, but you’ll reap the rewards of dedicated study and exam taking time pretty quickly. Eventually this change in routine will become the norm and not so difficult for everyone to understand.
- Share your successes – and celebrate them
Letting your family know when you have a college success allows them to participate in the process and celebrate your achievements. Your successes may be finishing a particularly difficult course section, writing a paper, or finishing a project – whatever they are, it’s important to allow your family to support you and celebrate your achievements. Bonus — this will help to keep you motivated for the next challenge.
- Accept there are saboteurs
Sometimes we just have difficult people in our lives who seem to discourage us more than encourage us. Accept these people exist and don’t allow them to bring you down or make you feel guilty for dedicating time to continuing your education. Remember your goal, imagine the possibilities when it’s reached, and tune these saboteurs out.
By: Kelly Paul