Returning To College 12 Years Later With 3 Young Children Was The Hardest Decision I Made.

Tips to help other parents navigate the college scene.

When I graduated from high school, I had to support myself. I got a job, moved into an apartment, and got a crash course on being an adult. College wasn’t in my mind at all. Today, they call this a “Gap Year”. Looking back, I was more focused on paying the rent, buying a car and riding my horse. College wasn’t in the thinking phase of my brain yet.

Fast forward, 12 years later, I am married, with 3 young children. I know that if I want to make good money; I need to go to college. So, I headed up to OIT campus in Klamath Falls, Oregon and enrolled.

Issue #1: Class Time Frames

Right off the bat, I had a huge issue. Lab classes were only in the evening. Since I was receiving child care help, I had to give them the information so they would pay for the sitter. Nope. They absolutely would not cover my evening labs. Doesn’t sound right, does it? Arguing didn’t get me very far. I was actually flunking this class!

Creative Solution: Add the hours for the lab class during daytime and my babysitter would come down and sit with my children in the evening. There really wasn’t much for her to do, as they were all in bed for the night.

Issue #2: I had no time to study

I was in classes or working the burger bar in the cafeteria during the day while my kids were in school. When I got home, they came first. They always got a snack and I would sit with them at the kitchen table helping them do their homework. Not only that, but I had dinner to make, dishes to wash, laundry and a multitude of other house chores. By the time I got everyone in bed, I was so pooped out I couldn’t think.

Before I give you the creative solution to this dilemma, I need to let you know that I was in a professional women’s support group. These ladies were phenomenal. Hearing the issues of these women not only was mind blowing, but their creative way to handle a situation gave me pause and really opened my mind to other ways of thinking. I approached this problem to the group. After asking me several questions, this is what they suggested.

Creative Solution: Go to bed when your kids go to bed. Get up at 4 in the morning, sit out at the kitchen table and do your homework. Everything is really quiet, you are close by if needed and you can think clearly!

Oh, my goodness! I couldn’t believe how this worked! I got more done in that 3 hours before the kids had to get up then I ever did any other time. It was the perfect solution. Not only was I able to study and pass my classes, but the kids didn’t feel like I was ignoring them.

Issue #3: The auditorium lecture!

I had a class in the auditorium. The instructor wasn’t engaging. I really worked at paying attention, but I couldn’t write fast enough to get my notes down. I was beyond frustrated. Once again, I wasn’t doing so good in this lecture class. I also had allergies, and this one day, I couldn’t stop sneezing and had watery eyes. I decided to take my allergy medicine. Instead of taking the (2) tablets, I decided I would take (4). Uh Oh! I fell sound asleep! When I woke up, the auditorium was empty with the instructor standing in front of me!

Creative Solution: Take a speed writing class! This will help with note taking. Only take (2) allergy tablets at one time. In the speed writing class, you write the letters you hear. An example; they spell Phone “fon”.

What an awesome solution. I would sit on the floor in my front room and play an album. I would write the words they were singing. This worked! I was the fastest in the class and I could take significant notes.

Issue #4: Reading speed.

I have always been a fast reader, but not fast enough! I had to get through a chapter at a time and answer the questions. Remember, I had 3 hours in the morning to get through all my homework and studies. So, once again, I turned to my ladies support group and let them know the dilemma I was having.

Creative Solution: Take a speed reading class. Now, I need to caution you big time. In speed reading, you skip the small words. You read the headlines, the key phrases, etc. It worked!

Well, it worked for doing homework. It did not work for taking tests! The first time I got a test back and flunked it, I almost had a coronary. Note to self “slow down your reading for tests or any documents of importance”. It was always those little, non-sequential words that would change the tone of the question.

Issue #5: No time.

Think back. When you have kids and work, you are a bit frazzled. You come up with ways to deal with issues that arise, but it is exhausting. Now, I went and added college to the mix. Keeping things straight was a real hassle.

Creative Solution: Purchase a day-timer and a wall calendar. The day-timer was to record what I needed to do during the day — classes, papers due, tests, doctors, appointments. The wall calendar was color coded. Each kid had their own color. I kept tract on the wall calendar each kid’s school schedule. This way I knew if I needed to bake cupcakes for a class party or attend a teacher’s conference. It also worked for my kids. My oldest was in the 3rd grade and he could read the writing on the calendar. He took it upon himself to remind me what needed to be done!

I hope this gives you encouragement; it is never too late to go to college. When I went to college, I never looked back. I never worked in the profession I was trained in. However, I sincerely hope that some of these ideas will help you along your journey.

My background is technology, I contracted out to Microsoft, doing phone support and worked at HP as a Software Test Engineer. What college did teach me; how to open up my mind to other possibilities and different ways of thinking.

Creative Wordpress Web Designer, Freelance Writer and Blogger. Business Tips for the Small Business Entrepreneur -

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