Have you thought about returning to school and wondered if it’s the right choice for you? You may have wondered if the time, money, and energy spent working on a degree will be worth it in the end. While the choice is ultimately a personal one, here are some facts to consider.
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Education and Earnings
As of 2013,
-Average salary for those without a high school degree was $23,900
-Average salary for those with a high school degree was $30,000
-Average salary for Associate’s Degree was $37,500
-Average salary for Bachelor’s Degree was $48,500
-Average salary for Master’s Degree was $56.900
Obviously, the desire for greater earning power is behind many women’s path back to college. And these days more than half of the students on a college campus are female, with many of those being over the age of 25.
Now there is no denying that the logistics of returning to school is more complicated for working mothers. You’ve already got the normal concerns about who will pick up your kids from school, who will shuttle them to and from activities, and whether you’ll miss out on important events, but now you’ve added the extra worry of how you’ll juggle your job responsibilities on top of the added school commitment. Talk about a recipe for habitual insomnia!
Considerations for moms thinking about college
Perhaps these questions will help you determine whether going back to school is the right move:
- Would a degree/advanced degree or certification lead to higher pay?
- Will completion of the next degree increase the likelihood of career advancement?
- How long will it take you to complete the degree?
- What kind of financial commitment will it take to get the degree?
- Is there financial aid and/or assistance you can get to help you pay for school?
- Can you manage the school work load in addition to your work and home commitments?
- What support structure is in place for helping you deal with your responsibilities?
- Will you have to take time off work to attend classes or can you take online classes at times convenient for you?
What About My Kids?
Making the decision to return to school is complicated and personal. But a mom who is in school is teaching her children the value of an education. Many studies suggest that children’s educational attainment is linked to their parents own education level. And what better way to model good homework and study habits? Should your own child begin to struggle in school you’ve got personal experience to draw from when you try to help them. Your child will have seen you implement some of the various strategies and techniques that you’re suggesting to him/her. Just think of the impact you’ll be having on your own kids!
Can I Do It?
You’re probably wondering if you’re even able to juggle all of your responsibilities. While I can only truly speak for myself, I suspect that you can. I have great confidence in the power of women to do more than they ever thought possible. In my own life I juggled a full time job (complete with additional night duties), 3 kids, the house and hubby, and my PhD residency year in which I completed 18 hours. It was the busiest year of my life but I survived and lived to tell about it. We’ll talk more about strategies for juggling school, work, and motherhood in later posts. Until then, it’s definitely something to think about.
Am I Too Old?
And honestly, if your kids are bit older, it may be easier for you to return to school now than it was before.
When I went back to school my kids were out of the stage where they needed me all of the time. In fact, there comes a point when your kids don’t want you hovering around them all of the time anyway. You might as well use this stage to get prepared for what you want to do once they leave home.
Just for the record, I have a great-aunt who went back to school later in life. She proudly walked across the stage to receive her Bachelor’s degree when she was in her late 60s. She then went on to work at a local college for many years (in case anyone thinks that a degree attained that late in life is wasted).
Resources to help you decide
The Adult Student’s Guide to Survival and Success by Al Siebert, PhD and Mary Karr, MS
501 Ways for Adult Students to Pay for College: Going Back to School Without Going Broke by Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Book of Majors 2018 by The College Board
You’ve got lots to consider. And make no mistake, going back to school is a big decision and one that only you can make.
Perhaps you have faced this decision yourself. What did you decide? If you’re looking for some specific strategies to help you stay on top of your coursework, be sure to check out Survive Your PhD Residency Without Losing Your Mind! It is possible to be both a mom and a student – and live to tell about it.
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