As we know, having one credential in today’s job market is not enough. It seems like everyone has, at minimum their Masters or another graduate degree. I am no exception. Since January, I have been in an intense, eight month, graduate certificate program to become an ESL teacher. It has been a steep learning curve. Not just learning about how to teach English but going back to school while being an employee (working part-time), a mom and wife. I am extremely blessed and privileged to be able to afford school (since I work at the college where I am also a student, I get a good chunk of my tuition covered) and have the family support – Tolga is a rock star. I know how fortunate and lucky I am. For those of you who may be in the same position and contemplating going back to school, especially as a working parent, let me share with you some of my lessons learned:
Lesson #1: You will succeed or fail based on your ability to manage your time
I am not trying to be dramatic, but if you suck with time management and organization, you NEED to work on these skills prior to applying to a school. I live and die by my Passion Planner and my village lovingly knows that unless it’s in my calendar, it’s probably not going to happen. I have created handy to-do lists for all of my assignments and readings and allow myself a certain amount of time to each assignment. I could spend 10 hours on an assignment, but I don’t have time for that! Being in the working world for a while has taught me that completion is better than perfection.
Lesson #2: Know the dollars and cents of going back to school
Most of us who are adult learners have more than school on our plate. We have kids, family, work, home, etc to balance all while completing our studies. Along with efficient time management and organizational skills, you’ll need to make sure you can financially afford to go to school. Most companies offer PD funds to help their employers upgrade their skills, so have a chat with your HR rep and see if there are funds to help you. See if you have room in your budget for things such as house cleaning and meal delivery services. You’re going to be too busy to go out for after work drinks and those savings can go into making your home life a little less stressful.
Lesson #3: You will be hit with the tornado of self-doubt
With assignments being due every week and grades coming out, I am currently in what I call the tornado of self-doubt. This will happen to you too. At the beginning of the semester, you’re like, “This is amazing and I am awesome and everything is rainbows and butterflies!” Then reading week comes and you’re like, “what did the eff did I do?! WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?! My life was so calm and simple before. WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS?!” Then its a few weeks after reading week and you get some assignments back. Some marks are great and some are mediocre. You start to think, ” I am dumb. This program is dumb. I am stupid and I won’t ever be good enough.” You then take a moment and do some self-care and this helps put life into perspective. It is SO important not to let these feelings and doubts consume you. Take solace that all students feel this but don’t let this be your excuse to crumble under pressure.
Lesson #4: Share your doubts and ask for help
Being a working parent while in school is no joke. I know I have tremendous privileges that allow me to do all three. One of these is my amazing village. I have been working on asking for help and surprise, surprise, I actually feel better when I let that shit go and get help. We want to feel invisible and made of Teflon, that we can handle and do it all. Eff that. That shit is exhausting. Tear down some of your vulnerabilities and speak out if you’re struggling and need help. If you’re able to, ask for help from family with your kids. Try and outsource what you can. I know this is also a privilege to outsource home-related things, such as house cleaning and pre-made meals and I am so appreciative that I can do this. Take a deep breath and let go of unrealistic expectations. You got this.
Obviously, there is a shit-ton of other lessons to be learned, but this post took me two weeks to write and I need to wrap it up. Are you thinking of going back to school? Let me know and let’s commiserate/be joyful together!!
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;