School After Kids: The Pros and Cons
Jul 22, 2011
Trying to decide on heading back to school as an adult can be a difficult decision due to a wide variety of reasons. Going back after becoming a parent is a choice deserving especially thorough consideration, as the demands of parenting can complicate the decision. The Education Insider explores the pros and cons involved in returning to school after kids.
By Jeff Calareso
Creating a pros and cons list can help you make a thoughtful and informed decision. As you weigh your options in returning to school after kids, here are five possible pros to consider:
1. Career Advancement
In many fields, earning a degree can open new doors for advancement. Whether it means earning a GED, a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, achieving the next tier in your education might be the key to climbing the ladder in your field and providing a more financially secure future for your family. When you're a parent, you may be reluctant to risk the stability of your status quo. Therefore, it's important to consider if and how the specific degree you're interested in will help your career.
2. Diversifying Your Skills
Even if the degree you're considering won't help you with your current profession, it may provide an opportunity to broaden your skills or transition to a new career. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, you may be able to ensure a more stable life for your kids by going back to school. In this way, returning to school is a method for providing a safety net for your family.
3. Alternative Education Options
One benefit of going back to school after having kids is that your options for how you complete your education are diverse. For example, some people avoid college before kids because of the expense of studying full-time, including living on campus and the cost of books. As a parent, however, there are many education options that benefit your lifestyle. These include online education, where classes may be asynchronous, and part-time programs, where you can earn a degree with the flexibility your parenting duties require.
4. Seizing an Opportunity
For some parents, there is no better time to return to school than when they have children in the house. Stay-at-home parents may delight in the opportunity of returning to school as a way of getting out of the house and challenging themselves intellectually. For working parents, an employer might provide tuition assistance, thereby providing a helpful cost savings.
5. Setting an Example
One reason you may decide to return to school is to set a strong example for your children. By returning to school, you're showing your children the value of education. You can also role model good study habits and a positive attitude about school. Regardless of the age of your children, knowing that you made the commitment to further your education can be inspiring.
While there can be clear pros to returning to school after kids, there can also be cons to take into account. Here are five cons that may be on your list:
There can be many costs associated with returning to school. If you're a parent on a tight budget, you should factor in the various expenses and understand how they might affect your life. In addition to tuition costs, parents need to consider any childcare costs that might be necessary. These costs can sometimes be mitigated by attending classes online, during the school day or when family or friends are available to help.
Without question, returning to school will require an investment of time. As a parent, this can mean missing important time with your children. As you weigh the pros and cons, this may be a substantial con, particularly when your children are very young. A good way to minimize this impact is to study online or asynchronously, so that you can complete as much work as possible while your children are at school or asleep.
Before you decide to return to school, be sure you know why you want to go. While this is true whether or not you're a parent, it's especially important when you have kids. Returning to school will have a major impact on your family. Be certain that you have a compelling need and desire to go back, and it's not because you think you should or you're experiencing peer pressure.
4. Readjusting to School
Depending on how long it's been, readjusting to life in school may be a challenge. Many parents who return to school find it difficult to get comfortable with both the intellectual and social demands of school life. It's common to fixate on the idea of returning to school while avoiding some of the practical facets of returning to school. A good way to anticipate this is to visit a local campus, perhaps going so far as to take a course as a test to see how easily you readjust.
5. Saturated Job Market
While there can be professional benefits to returning to school that can help your family, take the time to analyze trends in the job market first. For example, it may be best to avoid the most popular programs at your local college or university. These programs may be producing a surplus of graduates in your local area relative to the field's need. For example, if your town is overflowing with chiropractors, many of whom struggle to stay in business, then this may be a good field to avoid.
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