How can a 40 year old mom start going back to school in the midst of working, kids and life?

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Answered by: Emily, educator and scat collector, An Expert in the Adult Education Category
Going back to school can be tough for anyone, especially for a working mom. Although it can seem impossible to balance one more thing in an already busy schedule, with the right amount of planning you can get an education, and have a great time doing it.

Most working people attend college courses part-time because it is easier to fit into a tight schedule. However, full-time may be an option for you as well. To find out what works best for you, evaluate your current agenda. Take out a pen and paper and jot down what you do each day, from waking up to sleeping. For each day - Monday through Sunday - write down any "down time" you might have. Say your Mondays are hectic: cook breakfast, see kids off to school, work from 8-4, back home for dinner, soccer practice, ballet practice, bathroom cleaning ... Mondays might not be a good day for class. Here's the best part about continuing education: that's OK! You design your schedule. You decide when your classes take place. Write down any times through the week when you have 2-4 hours free. This will help you decide what classes to take when you find a school of interest.

Say your entire week is as hectic as Monday. Many colleges offer weekend courses - sometimes entire degrees offered in such a way. If you don't mind dedicating parts of your Saturday and Sunday, this could be the way for you. (For a list of colleges that offer weekend or accelerated programs, click here.) Another option is online education. From strictly online Universities like the University of Phoenix, to colleges or Universities in your hometown, it's getting easier to go back to school online. This route is a good option if you are familiar with surfing the Internet and using email, but most importantly, online learning works best for those who are self-disciplined. If you can set aside times through the week where you can work undisturbed on homework, tests and other assignments, going back to school online might be a perfect option.

Perhaps the best piece of advice when thinking about going back to school is to trust yourself. Know your strengths, and be ready to work on your weaknesses by setting goals for yourself as you go along. Find out what you want to do, or learn, and then seek out the colleges that offer your interests. Just like evaluating your schedule, you can evaluate college programs and degrees to make them work for you. Know that there is no "right" way to go back to school, there's only your way. You might decide to learn a new skill by taking individual courses or seminars, or you might decide to pursue a degree in a certain field. Whatever you do, believe that you can do it, plan around your life and follow through with the goals you set. And, above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. Advisors, professors and fellow students will help you along the way.

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