Have you been toying around with the idea of going back to school and continuing your education? With the job market getting more and more competitive these days, more and more women are deciding to go back to school to continue their education.
I was in your shoes a few years ago when I knew I wanted to continue my education, but I was honestly unsure of how I would be able to balance everything. Would it be a waste of time? Would it be worth it? Could I afford it?
I think that the answers to those questions depend on you and your circumstance, but if you decide to take the plunge, I wanted to offer you some advice that I wish someone would have told me!
- Your expectations for “normal” are going to have to change.
I made the decision to do graduate school while I worked full-time. Even though I wasn’t a parent yet, my job took up about 60-70 hours a week (I was often on call and was working in the middle of the night and weekends) so even if you’re working, yes, it can be done. I knew I’d be busier, but I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my home would almost never be clean and that I was going to have to start staying up later AND getting up earlier to get my work done. Sure I still watched too much Netflix, but I had to learn how to be disciplined in a whole new way. Life in school isn’t at all bad, but it’s different and you need to be willing to adapt.
- Figure out your support system before you start
This is especially for those of us with kids, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what to do and WHO you can lean on when your have too much on your plate. Whether that’s someone in your program or a few friends and family members, identify those key people and while you take care of them, let them take care of you! You’ll repay the favor!
Make sure you also have several options for childcare as well! I have a few options for free childcare if you need it.
- You’re going to have to make sacrifices
I’m SO thankful for great friends who have not abandoned me when I basically hibernated in the library for extended amounts of time. That meant, however, missing out on a lot of fun things ranging from missing parties the night of class, turning down a multitude of invitations to hang out when I had too much homework, etc.
When you have kids, though, they don’t just “understand” when you have too much to do. When it comes to family, you need to decide what priorities you have as far as your time goes and decide what sacrifices might need to be made. I think this is where a lot of women decide not to pursue their education and (once again) place themselves on the back burner, but remember that you’re investing in yourself AND your family!
- Your timeline might not be “traditional”
You’re supposed to finish college in four years, right? Well, wrong. That’s only if everything goes according to plan and that very rarely happens. During graduate school I got engaged, planned a wedding, and then decided to take a semester off so that I wouldn’t have to do homework on my honeymoon and could adjust to the new phase in our lives a little easier. I also could have graduated earlier than I did, but I decided to delay a few courses in order to pursue some important opportunities and accommodate a major work conflicts. No matter how perfect it looks on the front end, you may just need to be prepared to throw your schedule out the window when life happens.
- You CAN do it
Don’t get freaked out. Don’t let fear be the reason why you don’t do something as important as continuing your education if you need to or even just want to. Have faith in yourself and try to find balance in all that you do. It is totally doable.
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Did you decide to go back to school and do you have any tips?
Are you thinking about going into a new program or degree and you’re hesitant?