Busy Working Mom Goes Back to School

I married young and stumbled my way into a paralegal career – – I flipped through a college catalog, read what a paralegal does and thought it sounded okay. Twenty years later, I found myself facing major surgery and being forced to take time off work for the first time in years. During my recuperation, I was bored and toyed with the idea of returning to school to complete my four-year degree. Once I returned to work, I scheduled an appointment with a college admissions agent and became a college student again.

I was so excited to go back to school even though I was at least 10 to 15 years older than most of the students in my class. However, the thrill of buying school supplies and the smell of new textbooks made me feel young again. My family’s support and encouragement gave me the faith in myself to continue even when it got hard. My family has also helped me balance work, home and school so that I earned my Bachelor’s Degree and continue to work on a Master’s Degree. Every person is different but for me, juggling all of these balls in the air without dropping any of them would have been impossible without help from my family.

How I balanced work, family and school

· A detailed plan – Having a calendar that combines all of my schedules is essential to keeping me on top of every deadline, assignment and appointment. Instead of using separate calendars for home, work and school, I combined all three schedules into one master calendar. This makes it much easier for me to see all of my obligations and set priorities to accomplish them all. · Take online classes – Because I work fulltime during the day, I must take night classes but I do not need to be away from my family every evening. Therefore, I limit my school schedule to two evenings away from home per week. To fit in other classes, I take online courses whenever possible so that I can be in class when it suits my schedule rather than be away from home. · Going slower – My advisor scheduled my classes so that I could finish in two years. I have no doubt that I could do this; however, it would mean I would only get about five hours of sleep each night after working all day, taking care of my family and studying. While I know I could do this, it would not have allowed me to perform well in any one area of my life. Therefore, I decided to slow the pace of my school schedule to allow me to do everything well even though that means I will not finish as quickly as some other students will who do not work fulltime and have a family.

The most important thing that helps me balance work, family and school is to be flexible. If something is not working, I change it until I find the best fit for all three areas of my life.

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