Being a mother is an amazing journey and one of the steepest, most bewildering and utterly wonderful learning curves in the vast tapestry of human experience.
A lot of time has been devoted to the study of the role parents have in their children’s education. Of course it’s vitally important that parents take an active role in supporting and nurturing academic and intellectual growth in their children, but that’s absolutely no reason why parents (and particularly Moms) should capitulate when it comes to their own learning and development.
The enormous demands placed on mothers, particularly new mothers, can make the prospect of pursuing their own career or academic journey seem like an impossibility that shouldn’t be approached until your child’s 18th birthday but despite the enormous pressures it can be done.
The deck is stacked against you
Being a mature student can be a daunting and stressful experience and the pressures placed on parents can only ever compound this. When most people think of campus based learning they think of sparsely attended lectures punctuated by prolonged sessions of drinking and partying. While this may be the case for many undergraduates, life is significantly more complicated for student-parents.
Many student mothers across the world find day care provision on campus woefully inadequate. While the number of student-parents has increased by around 50% in the past twenty years, child care facilities have actually decreased. Universities all over the world are constantly facing an uphill battle against budget cuts while some simply fail to recognise the changing demographics of their student cohort.
Funding is also a huge issue, with many student-parents having no choice but to embroil themselves in decades’ worth of debt to finance their learning. Fortunately there is help from a range of organizations on seeking funding and how best to manage your finances.
There’s no denying that the monetary, logistical, emotional and psychological pressures on student-parents are severe.
But Moms are resilient
Motherhood is the world’s toughest job and as such, student-parents turn up on enrolment day with a broad portfolio of skills and experience that their childless counterparts don’t have. If you’re a student-parent you’re likely an olympic standard multitasker with time management and organizational skills that will put your peers to shame.
All those months or years of soiled diapers, temper tantrums and gallons of spit-up will ensure that you remain calm and calculated while others lose their heads and having had to fight that little bit harder to get there you’ll probably bring an appreciation and enthusiasm that your tutors will respect and appreciate.
Plus, come graduation your combination of academic learning and life experience will make you much more desirable to employers.
While there’s a good chance that you could excel in campus learning, it’s also not possible for a great many parents because of their location or schedule.
Fortunately there is another way.
Make online learning your new best friend
The last 20 years have seen online learning grow in diversity and legitimacy to the point where virtually any field of study is available online.
Whether you’ve got your sights set on a new career or you’re looking to take the next step up from where you left off pre-childbirth, chances are you can find the right training, accreditation or qualification online.
Online learning allows you to advance your education and career in a way that you can plan around your existing parental and work commitments. Nurses, for example, can pursue an online RN to BSN program that will broaden their skillset and advance their career from the comfort of their own homes.
Whatever career or field of study you wish to pursue, there’s an online course out there.
The benefits of online study are fairly self-evident. There’s such a broad range that you can study pretty much whatever you want and you have complete control over the pace of your learning. If you get up in the middle of the night for a feed and can’t get back to sleep, you can work on your studies while you’re wide awake. If your little one gets sick and needs medical attention, you can make sure that their needs are met immediately without having to feel guilty about missing lectures or pestering your peers for notes.
If pregnancy or childbirth have left you with mobility issues then online learning can allow you to grow academically from the comfort of your own home.
You are not alone
However you choose to study, remember that you are not alone. Many of us are reticent to rely on our support network such as friends, family, tutors, fellow students, other parents or our partners but we really shouldn’t deny seeking help when we need it. After all, we’d want them to do the same, right?