Take a full-time job, add at least one child, and you have, well, not much time left for anything else. It probably sounds a little crazy to even think about trying to go to college and earn a degree on top of all of your other responsibilities. And yet, single mothers and married mothers alike have so much to gain from a degree. Many women find that the added workload is worth the prospect of a better career and greater financial security. With a flexible online degree program, school can actually work around your schedule.
Why Get an Online Degree
A traditional college education just isn’t right for everyone. If you’re holding down a full-time job, it’s hard to mesh class and work schedules. An online degree program gives you flexibility to review class materials and complete assignments on your own terms and in your own time. Many degrees can be completed entirely online. Accredited online schools accept federal financial aid, including grants and loans. You may also be able to get tuition reimbursement or a scholarship from your employer, especially if the classes are related to your current job.
What Kind of Program to Look For
Keep your career and educational goals in mind as you decide on an online program. There are so many options, from online courses taken through a traditional brick-and-mortar campus to national online-only colleges and universities and even some hybrid programs. One important factor is the check out the reputation and accreditation of the school. Without accreditation, your hard-earned credits may not transfer, and your degree may not be recognized.
Making the Schedule Work
Online-only campuses often follow a year-round schedule, with new classes starting every month. Students may take just one or two classes at a time on a compressed schedule. This eases the homework load without significantly stretching out the length of the program. Signing up for distance education through a regional community college or state university can also be a good choice. Keep in mind that online class offerings at these schools may be limited, and some may require you to take tests on campus. Also, starting dates will likely follow a traditional school year, which could actually be an advantage since the dates would align better with your children’s school calendar.
Juggling Kids and Classes
Online courses are perfect for working moms, but you have to be realistic about the discipline that’s required. It’s important to figure out a plan for managing the kids, the household and your own homework before you start your first class. You’ll need to be super organized, and you’ll need to get the kids (and anyone else in the household) on board so that they aren’t interrupting you every two minutes as you try to study. Some programs allow you to download podcasts, so you can listen to lectures in the car, at the gym, during the kids’ sports activities or pretty much anywhere. When it’s time for reading assignments and other projects, try sitting down to work while your children do their own homework. With younger children in the house, you may just have to tackle tough assignments after bedtime.
Earning a degree is hard work, but the bottom line is that in today’s economy, it’s tough to get ahead without one. The people who get promoted and earn raises are the ones with a degree. Even an associate degree can increase your earning power. You can always start slowly, with just one class, and see how your family adjusts. The key is to start.