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Ryan CopithornBalancing
Act: Juggling Kids, Spouses, Bosses and Professors

By Ryan Copithorn

The all-nighters, the parties, the 3 a.m. diaper changes?

While most post-secondary students aren't experiencing all of these things, many mature students face the additional stress of family obligations while completing their degree or diploma. Added to this is the fact that many of these students need to remain working while in school, be it full-time enrollment while working night shifts or working full-time while taking courses through the Internet or correspondence.

Those living out this scenario are faced with many people to appease; kids need caring for, spouses need attention, bosses need reliability and professors need that paper by Friday! Anyone who has been through this can tell you that it can be enough to make even the strongest, most efficient person feel like they’re on the verge of cracking. Each of these relationships must be handled with care for the return to college experience to be a success.

In all things, its helpful to remind ourselves that this is our choice. I chose to return to school with a three-year old, a baby on the way and a fifty hour a week job. I knew I was in for some sleepless nights and relationship strain, but viewed the potential rewards as worth it. While the strain may be ever present; there are ways to minimize its effect while dealing with the people who are center stage in your life.

Kids

Once you have them, nothing comes before them. If you want to complete your degree without feeling it came at a cost, strive to remember this principle. Nothing can beat the time spent playing Lego or Barbie, or trying to help them with long division despite the fact that it feels like a century has passed since you've done it. Once they’re asleep, block out the next two hours as yours alone, and use them wisely. (If you research various schools’ study formulas, you’ll see that two hours is more than enough time for readings and assignments, even allowing for days off.) Of course, this principle cannot always work; there will be times when school has to come first; exams, scheduling group projects, or when you're running behind because life got the best of you. When this happens, remind yourself that you’re doing this to live a better life for yourself and provide a better life for them.

Spouses

It’s a wonderful feeling to be with someone who encourages you in your aspirations. But the limits of that encouragement can be greatly tested in the thick of a demanding program. Nights spent on the computer while your spouse goes to bed alone, overall exhaustion and irritability; these can all lead to a sense of detachment between you and your partner. Fortunately, things that can be done to help lighten this issue and are things you should be doing anyway.

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