Working Mom, Are You Afraid to Go Back to School?

How do you feel about going back to school? Do you dream where it might take your career? If you fear that because you are a working mom you won’t have the time or energy to go back to school I get it. But fear has this funny way of holding us back from things that could be exceptional for us. You can think of many reasons not to take on this challenge like the additional workload, the time and energy it’ll take, and, the biggest one is the fear of failure.

How can you put these fearful thoughts aside and truly judge if it’s time for you to go back to school?


Create a 'Why Statement' To Help Fight the Fear About Going Back to School

Why do you want to go back to school

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School should give you something you’re missing. Why do you want to go back to school? What is missing in your life right now that school could provide? What will furthering your education bring you? A promotion, growing your competency about the work you do, or perhaps changing your career track? 

When you can articulate your reason or your “Why statement” you can use it to fight back your fear. For example, a great why statement could be, “Learning a new skill set is the first step toward the change I need right now.” This statement is simple, easy to remember and helps you change your mindset. When you begin to doubt yourself, remember your “why statement” to leave your fearful thoughts behind.


Get Your Support System to Back You Up

Use your support system

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There will be times when you need help with your home life responsibilities. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the extra workload think about what when you’ll need help and what you’ll need help with. Will you do homework at night, early mornings, or on the weekends at the library?

Next, get your support system onboard. People in your support system are people like ​your husband, parents, neighbors, kids, and friends. Share with them why you’re going back to school. Then share when you think you’ll need help and with what. You’ll feel less fear knowing that your support system has your back.


Find Extra Pockets of Time in Your Day

Studying on your lunch break

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Do you feel like you won’t have enough time or energy to do homework? Then try this. Throughout your day tomorrow make it a priority to look for small pockets of free time. Did you spend too much time surfing the net during lunch? You could do work then. Were you reading a book on the train or listening to an audiobook in the car? You could do work then. 

Keep a lookout for these pockets of time where you could give up something to make room for school work. School won’t last forever and making some sacrifices may be worth it. When you feel fear you won’t be able to squeeze school in you’ll now feel prepared knowing you have these golden pockets of time to rely on.


Figure out If You Can Afford to Go Back to School

Young woman reviewing personal finances with digital tablet and paperwork on sofa
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One of the top reasons working moms work is because they need the money. If you fear that you can’t afford to go back to school investigate your options. If your company offers tuition reimbursement what are the requirements? 

If they don’t the first step to receiving federal aid is to fill out an FAFSA form. Then, with the help of your school’s financial aid department, you could apply for a Federal Pell Grant from the US government or if you’re applying for an online course apply for Obama’s “Mom Return to School” Grant. 

Besides federal aid, you can also apply for the tax credits when you do your taxes such as the American Opportunity Credit Tax or the Lifetime Learning Credit tax.


Don’t Fret Over Deadlines

Stressed over deadline

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Excitement can get the best of us and push us to make the application deadline. But if you don’t have your ducks in a row, be easy on yourself.  Your school will always be there!  It’s not closing down tomorrow.

You can wait one more semester and feel prepared and competent to start your new adventure. Don’t let the fear of running late scare you away from making a commitment.


You Aren’t Signing up for a Race

It doesn't have to be a race

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Although it may feel like you're signing up for a race you aren't.  You can go to school at your own pace. Try taking one course at a time. If life isn’t busy and you’re hungry to complete your degree, take one or two classes. You are not competing with anyone so don’t fear that you’re going to lose the race.

It’s hard to contain excitement and anxiety over what will happen once you get that degree or certificate. But all good things come to those who wait or work hard. 

Fear can stand for False Expectations Appearing (to be) Real. When fearful thoughts creep up when you think about going back to school, take a deep breath and put them aside. You have many options for making it work for you and you could reap some big benefits if you go for it.

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