1. Parenting

Tips for Adults Going Back to School

Making the Transition Back into the Classroom as an Adult Learner

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Three adults learners in a classroom adjust to going back to school.

Going back to school will be an adult is an adjust for your whole family.

Photo © Stockbyte / Getty Images

As a single parent, making the decision to go back to school will affect your whole family. You can make the transition easier on all of you by planning ahead with these tips:

Set Realistic Goals
What do you hope to accomplish by going back to school? Come up with some clear, specific goals — such as "To finish my nursing degree, secure a better-paying job, and eventually buy a home." Then, with those goals in mind, give yourself permission to let go of some lesser priorities while you're in school. This might mean that your house won't be perfectly clean, or that the bathroom isn't going to get painted until the semester break, and that's okay.

Prepare Your Kids
Though your kids may not know it yet, your journey back to school will be a joint effort. You're going to need their help more than ever to contribute to the household chores, stay on top of their own schoolwork, and willingly participate in managing the household. Decide ahead of time how you're going to accomplish this. Will you offer rewards? Allowance? Restrict their privileges if their chores aren't done? Also, consider what you might need to teach your children before you head back to the classroom. Do they need to learn how to make their lunches? Put in a load of laundry? Doing this ahead of time will make the transition easier for all of you.

Be Organized
Your time is going to be even more limited than it already is, especially if you will be working full time and taking care of your kids while you take classes. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is prepare in advance. Do this by getting yourself and your kids into a regular after school routine so that each family member knows his or her evening responsibilities. In addition, if you don't currently use a calendar to keep track of your family's busy schedule, begin doing that and teach your whole family how to use the calendar as well, so that they can plan their own activities around your classroom and work schedule.

Update Your Technical Knowledge
If it's been awhile since you've been in a classroom, you may find that you need to brush up on your technological skills. Many professors now expect you to e-mail your work instead of turning in traditional typed papers. In addition, you may be expected to participate in an online list serve as part of your course work. Most schools offer free training seminars for adult learners to need to need to gain confidence in these essential technological skills. Look into your school's Student Technology Center to access the learning opportunities available to you, or take advantage of About.com's About U, a collection of free online courses.

Seek Out Single Parent Scholarships
Be sure to look in to the grants and scholarships that may be available to you, as well, before going back to school. Many community colleges and larger universities offer their own single parent scholarships for eligible students. To find out what's available, contact your school's financial aid office or search for legitimate grants and scholarships for single parents online.

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