Do your research
Once you decide it’s time to go back to school, researching schools is a must. Make a list of the most important things a university must have in order to work for you. Your list may include:
- Chosen major
- Flexible classes
- Accepts transfer credits
- Length of program
- The preferred format of classes
- Support services
When you find a school that stands out, request information or take a tour. Talking with an admissions counselor or advisor at the university is a good way to understand the culture of the campus. It’s important that the university shares your values, especially understanding family balance.
Every university and program has different application deadlines. When you decide on a program, make sure to start applying early. Depending on application requirements, it may take some time to put all of the documents together. Most schools require filling out an application, as well as submitting official transcripts.
If you plan on using Federal Student Aid, make sure to fill out the FASFA application right away. This can take multiple weeks to process. Hint: you are able to put up to 13 school codes into a FASFA application. This way, if you’re still researching schools, you can get an estimate of what you’d receive at each. As a parent, it is easier to get things done ahead of time, in order to avoid rushing to meet the deadline.
Meet with your advisor
At most colleges, once admitted, you’ll be assigned an advisor. Advisors are there to help answer questions, help you enroll in classes, and keep you on track for graduation. Students should try and talk with their advisors twice a year so you both are on the same page.
Create a study schedule
You’ve started classes. Now what? Whether you are taking an online class or in-person it is important to stay on track. We suggest creating a study schedule for each class. A study schedule can be as simple as setting time aside to work on courses each day and writing it on a family calendar. If you like a to-do list type of schedule, we’d suggest creating a list of assignments due each week and your deadline for each. Once you complete it, check it off and move on to the next.
Use student services to your advantage
Most universities provide online or in-person academic support services for students, so be sure to utilize them. There are services available for on-campus and online students alike. Schools offer different services. Therefore, it’s important to look at what each offers and how they fit your needs.
Concordia University Wisconsin & Ann Arbor (CUWAA) offers students:
- Academic Advising
- Academic Resource Center
- Accessibility Services
- Career Engagement
- Financial Aid
- Graduate & Online Student Support
- Library Services
- Writing Services
Need help? Just ask
As a parent, it may be easy to try and do things on your own. However, it shouldn’t be that way. If you’re struggling, ask for help. Staff and faculty are there to support you through your education. Your advisor is especially there to answer your questions and guide you. Professors are understanding and many provide ways to connect with them. We want you to succeed and will do what we can to help.
Take care of yourself
Let’s face it, balancing school, work, and family isn’t easy. Make sure to take time for self-care every day. Self-care activities can be as simple as listening to your favorite music or podcast or taking a shower without the kids yelling for you. If you’re feeling burned out make sure to take time to step back and breathe. Make time for yourself and your family by having designated “no-homework” time each week. If you need more help, check out resources your college may provide to support your mental health and well-being.
Attending college as a parent can be hard, but trust us, it’s totally worth it.