Advice for the Student-Parent

By: Barbara Harmon, Staff Writer

While many students find college to be a challenge, students with children of their own have to keep an even tighter schedule.

“Balancing family life, parenthood and college coursework can be difficult at best, and challenging at worst, especially for those without the support of a spouse or partner,” according to AC Online.

“Keeping life in check when returning to college is a major concern for most student-parents.

“Returning students should understand there is an adjustment period, and that it’s going to take some time to establish a comfortable routine,” according to the website.

Sometimes you have to follow the advice you would give to your own children.

If they have homework they need to finish, what would you say to them? “Get it done, before you do anything else.”

Well, you may have to remind yourself of this at times. Especially with the distractions that come with electronic technology these days—link after link and episode after episode.

There are simple ways to stay on top of your task. If your children take naps, make the most of that time.

That can be a wonderful opportunity to work on your studies. This is not the time to scroll through Facebook profiles or viral videos.

You determine what is most important to you.

If your children are older, work on your homework together.

It is possible and fulfilling to multitask, as well. There are many nicely measured time slots throughout your day.

If you need to read a chapter, sit at the kitchen table and finish it while super is in the oven.

Have some discussion posts to make or an instrument to practice? Do it while the clothes are in the dryer.

You will accomplish more in your day this way and your to-do list will not become a challenge of its own.

It is also essential to get enough sleep.

“Burning the candle on both ends, as a parent and a student, can quickly lead to burnout,” according to AC Online.

“While it’s tempting to stay up late to get in some quality time with Netflix after work and studies are completed for the day, it’s only going to hurt in the long run when energy has been totally depleted.

“Get some rest instead,” advised the website.

There are student-parents at Volunteer State Community College that have learned to adapt to these circumstances.

“This is only for a season (sometimes a season that will never end) and soon the work put into school will lead way for more quality time again,” according to Jennifer Giese, a student at Vol State.

“So some of my advice is to try not to feel guilty when you can’t be completely involved with the family and have to count on a spouse or other family members to help with dinner, housekeeping, activities, etc,” according to Giese.

Responsibilities can be divided out so that task are shared, and it does not take all of one person’s time to do it.

“Also, ensure that you carve out specific time for homework and studying,” according to Giese.

“If the family is aware that you have set aside specific time for this, then they will fall into a schedule of knowing that unless it is an emergency that you can’t be disturbed.

“At first it is hard to strike a balance, but all parties need to be flexible for changes,” Giese added.

Once a schedule is established, it will become a valuable asset to aid you in the completion of your degree.