The decision to return to school is a major one that impacts not only yourself, but the people closest to you. While this impact is positive—one major success on your journey to overall success—it brings changes for everybody, so it’s important to make sure that everyone in your family is ready. Family always comes first, but as you begin classes, other priorities in your life shift. Your children, spouse, and other close family members are your biggest champions. They believe in your success and are there to help you along the way.
To ensure that your family is able to support you—and to make the change as easy for them as possible—it is best to fully prepare them for this transition. Here are some tips on how to make sure everyone is comfortable and on board with your return to school.
While it is your decision to make, going back to school is something that the people in your life should know about. Involving them in the process from the beginning gives you a network of support to lean on, and it is also respectful to them because it lets them know what is going on and how it will affect them.
Don’t wait until your admissions letter arrives in the mail. Let them know when you first start considering this huge and positive step. Oftentimes, you will be met with love and support that will inspire you to continue the journey. Communicating from the get-go will help you avoid alienating the people closest to you at a time when you should feel great about this exciting decision.
Get them Involved
Making your family feel involved in your academic life reassures them that they are on this journey with you. They love you and they want to be a part of this process. Some great ways to get them involved include:
• Asking them to help you study—if you study with flashcards or practice quizzes, your family can ask the practice questions or test your knowledge of the material. They can keep track of your progress, and work together to figure out ways to reward your successes. Ice cream, anyone?
• Organizing family homework time—turn homework into a family event. Do your homework at the same time as your children to keep each other motivated and make studying more of an experience and less of a chore.
• Talking about class—your spouse and older children may want to know about what you’re studying so they can see your success in action. Share your takeaways from that day’s classes with your family and show them what you’re reading for the night. Even if it’s not something they can directly relate to, at least they’ll get a sense for what you’re passionate about.
• Practicing your assignments—if you have any presentations to give for class, or any large assignments due, practicing with your family is a great way to garner useful feedback and it helps them feel like they are contributing to your success.
• Encouraging them to succeed with you—is your spouse also considering a career change? Do you have a child who wants to join a team or extracurricular activity? You’re following your dreams and there’s no reason your family shouldn’t follow your example. Encouraging them to explore something new turns success into a family activity and you can all support each other in your endeavors. Their achievements can inspire yours, and your return to school could be the push they need to do something great.
Check in Regularly
There are times during each quarter where you will be busier than others. Final exams. Group projects. Sometimes, it will be harder for you to balance everything, and this is something your family will notice. While it’s to be expected, be sure to check in with them to make sure they are still feeling okay about all the changes.
Is there anything they need from you that you can reasonably give? More quality time? Chores that aren’t being done? Can your spouse meet you halfway so you can still devote enough energy to your studies? If there are things like cooking meals, picking up the kids, and walking your dog that other members of the household can contribute to, let them know. Everybody should always chip in, but this is especially true when one parent is back in school.
Always Make Time for Family
While involving your family in your studies integrates them into your new and busier schedule, it’s important that you are able to enjoy your downtime together. Outside of study parties and group homework sessions, quality time will benefit everyone. Allocate at least some time each week to doing something as a family: going to the movies, a park, an attraction, or even playing games. Have dinner with each other as much as possible, and keep each other updated on your day-to-day life beyond school.
Going back to school is a decision that affects the whole family, but with a realistic and balanced approach, there’s no reason this transition can’t be positive and easy.
“I returned to school shortly after giving birth to my daughter, and completed my graduate degree upon the birth of my son. It took a tremendous amount of time management, balance, and patience, but Strayer University staff supported me every step of the way! I never saw my education as something that would take time away from my family or business. Strayer always encouraged me to view my education from a holistic approach and as something we all could accomplish together,” said Kelley Everett, founder of Youth Angel Scholars Incorporated, and a Strayer University ‘Harvey’s Hero.’
It is important that you go after your dreams, and you will need the support of the people who are important to you for that. Get your family involved in your dreams and the return to school will be so much easier. The family that dreams together succeeds together.