Going back to school and obtaining that degree can provide job security and higher earning potential — benefitting you and your family in the long-run. However, pursuing a degree while raising a family comes with significant challenges. Read up on some of the pros and cons of juggling school and children to make informed choices about your future!
The Pros of Going to School While Raising a Family
Pro: It Benefits Your Children
Advancing your education doesn’t only benefit you. A study published by Lamar University affirms that highly educated parents tend to raise highly successful children. Furthermore, according to research published in The Atlantic, “80 percent of those raised by two graduates said their parents encouraged them to attend a four-year school, compared with 29 percent of those raised in families without a degree.”
On the flip side, that same article reports that many students from no-degree families, who did go to college directly after high school, had a hard time finishing their education.
Pro: Remote Options are Often Available
Between classes, office hours, and exams, going back to school can be harder and more demanding than a full-time job. And as a mature adult, it’s not easy to blend in with a student population often composed of 18- to 22-year-olds — not to mention commuting if you plan to take a class on campus.
The good news is that many programs offer remote learning opportunities, which provide you with more flexibility in your schedule and eliminate the need to pack up the family and move so that you can attend classes in person. The asynchronous learning format — meaning students learn the same material at different times and locations — is becoming more and more common, affording you more options than ever to pursue your education on your (and your family’s) schedule.
The Cons of Going Back to School While Raising a Family
There are two sides to every decision, and there are some challenges you will face if you decide to go back to school while raising a family.
Con: The Cost of Extra Childcare
Childcare isn’t cheap. According to Child Care Aware of America’s report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, it’s one of the most significant expenses in families’ monthly budgets. And if you’re going to be devoting more of your time to school — on top of juggling your job and responsibilities — you may have to face the reality of increased childcare costs on top of everything else.
However, there is help available to ensure you can provide quality care for your family while pursuing your academic degree. Between government programs, work and school-related programs, and local and provider-specific assistance and discounts, there are ways to make it work. And don’t discount the help of family and friends, if that’s appropriate for your situation.
Con: Reduced Household Budget to Help Pay for School
A report by Student Loan Hero affirms that the cost of college tuition has increased by 213% since the late 80s, far outpacing the increase in wages. In other words, not only is going to school more expensive, but it’s nearly impossible to offset the cost of tuition by working full-time — and in most cases, working 40 hours a week while simultaneously pursuing a degree is not possible! So what is a parent to do?
When combined with the cost of childcare and the loss of income from cutting your work hours to study, the cost of pursuing higher education may cause a significant strain on your budget. However, the good news is that, while things might be tight for a while, there is help available.
Federal student loans are often available for many nontraditional students who attend school at least part-time. Payments aren’t due on federal loans until after graduation, leaving school, or changing your enrollment status to less than part-time. In addition, they often come with the option to be refinanced, temporarily postponed, or partially forgiven. And regardless of how old you are, they come with no age restrictions.
Con: Feelings of Guilt
Pursuing a degree while raising a family will take both money and time. National Student Clearinghouse reports that the average time to complete a bachelor’s degree is 5.1 years, and that’s not taking into account revolving your studies around work and family. When you have to devote time to your studies, that’s less time than you have for family and friends.
While it’s normal to feel a little bit guilty about that, don’t let it distract you from your goals! Your friends and family want you to be happy and successful. They will likely understand that school is very important to you and that in the long run, this will help you advance your career and accomplish your goals. It’s hard to get past the guilt, but remember, it will all be worth it in the end.
The Bottom Line
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to go back to school while raising a family, and it comes down to your personal situation and what will work best for you. In many cases, depending on your program and school of choice, you may find yourself needing to move closer to campus and find off-campus housing that can accommodate your growing family!
If you and the fam are relocating for your pursuit of education, ensure your next living situation is ideal! Don’t settle for student housing that doesn’t fit your family’s needs, and don’t stretch your budget for overpriced turnkey apartments, either!