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Considering Going Back to School? Ask Yourself These Questions:

This is a guest post contributed by blogger Lisa Nichols. You can reach her at reese.am.jones@gmail.com.

The thought of going back to college as an adult, whether it’s to complete an unfinished degree or pursue a new one altogether, can be very daunting. It’s a huge commitment and one that may make some feel unready. To help with your decision, here are five questions you should be asking yourself:

What’s holding me back?

Determine your motivations for going back to school. Whether it’s a personal promise to yourself or because you want to switch careers, knowing your reason will not only help you face your worries but it will also keep you motivated to get your college degree.

Also, know that there are also other people in the same boat as you. You may be scared that you’d be the oldest person in your class, or that you’d stand out amongst your fellow students, but the National Center for Education Statistics reported that almost 40% of those attending college this school year are students 25 years and over. Experts also estimate that this percentage will continue to increase over the next decade. So, if you do decide to go back to college, you’ll be joining at least 7 million other adults.

Replacing your worries and fears with all the benefits and advantages of getting your degree can help with your commitment to starting and finishing school.

How do I fit in college classes to my existing schedule?

It can be tough to fit college classes into your already busy schedule, especially if you’re working full-time or raising kids. Programs that offer night classes are a great option for those who only have the nights off to study. However, the schedules of modern-day adults often make it near impossible to pursue an on-campus degree program. Thankfully, technology has provided more options for adult learners, allowing them to earn their college degrees from the comfort of their own homes. Some online school applications can be a breeze, too. Learners can enjoy flexible start dates to help them ease into the process of going back to school. Student support systems have also been developed in recent years, which provide students of online institutions the social support they need to excel in the virtual classroom. All of this makes fitting education into your schedule easier and smoother. Most community colleges also offer part-time education programs, helping working students find a way to pursue further education without compromising their current commitments.

How do I pay for school?

Being an adult does not mean that you won’t be qualified for financial aid. There are a handful of available grants and scholarships available for adults returning to college. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to unlocking any federal financial aid. And even if you don’t qualify for grants, your FAFSA is your access to federal student loans. You can also search online for possible grants and scholarships.

If you’re a working professional, your current employer can be a possible source for financial assistance. Ask and check if your company can offer some kind of tuition reimbursement.

How do I prepare myself for college?

Once you’ve sorted out the logistics of how you can go back to school, it’s a matter of preparing yourself physically and mentally for college. Before attending classes, whether offline or online, you may want to brush up on your academic skills by going online and reading up on topics related to the course/program you’ve decided to pursue. Navigating your way through college as an adult will become easier if you align your personal, social and work life with the changes that college could bring. A great way to do this is by enlisting the support of your family and friends. Inform them of your plans of going back to college and ask them to help out with your current obligations to make it easier for you to ease your way back into studying.

How do I balance everything when I start studying again?

As an adult learner, you would need to find balance in all your roles, from school to family to work. The key to doing this is effective time management by prioritizing your responsibilities and planning ahead. Blog contributor Piper McIntosh discussed how it’s also important to take time for yourself, since it’s easy to lose yourself with all the added responsibilities of going back to college. Getting your degree should not be a reason to not have any quality time for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Balancing the Pressures of Life as an Adult College Student and Parent

Leaving the Stress at School

College is a lot of work. With classes to attend, papers to write, homework to complete, and notes to write, it can be more stressful than a full time job. Being a parent is also a full time job. You must feed your children, keep them clean, teach them about the world around them, and pay attention to them. When you combine the pressures of college with the stresses of parenting, you end up with what sometimes seems like an unbearable amount of stress.

Maintaining our mental and physical health is so important, but this can be difficult to accomplish when you are so busy. If you make healthy lifestyle choices you will have an easier time focusing and putting quality work into the activities in which you partake (as a parent, and a student). One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find ways to de-stress. In order to give both your studies and your children the quality care and attention they deserve, this article shares some tips on how you can optimize your time and reduce your stress! Your physical, mental, and emotional health must be optimal to ensure that you provide quality care to your child and are still able to fully dedicate yourself to school. Here are some specific ways in which you can ensure that you’re in peak physical and mental condition.

Get Enough Sleep

You can’t mix work and sleep. Don’t do homework or classwork in your bedroom, in other words, you should dedicate that room to rest and relaxation. You should also avoid doing work within an hour before bed. This will help get your mind in a relaxed place ready to “turn off” for the night. Getting a proper amount of sleep is extremely important to ensure that you are healthy and well-rested, if you are exhausted, you won’t be able to focus on your studies.

Establishing a bedtime routine, keeping your sleeping space cleaned, taking cbd oils, or meditating can be a great way to ease yourself to sleep. As a parent, it may be very hard to get enough sleep, as children tend to keep parents up all night. Taking some of these steps to ensure that you get some solid sleep will make a world of difference in how you can perform when you are awake.

Take Time For Yourself

Along with getting a good night’s sleep, it also helps to take time for yourself each day while you are awake. Having a skincare routine, taking baths, and reading are great ways to have time to yourself while also taking a break from the day and being productive at the same time. We all need time without our children that are not spent in the classroom sometimes. Make sure you still carve out time to spend time with friends and family to give you a social outlet too. Having someone else watch your children is good for you, and actually really good for them as it allows them to become familiar and comfortable with other people.

Watch Your Health

On a busy day when you have been in class, driven all over the town and picked up all the kids, it is so easy to grab fast food and forget about exercising. In reality, you so badly need the proper energy to keep up with everything going on in your life. Nutritious foods will keep you full and keep your body working well. Lots of fast foods can weaken your immune system, and you will be more likely to fall ill and miss work, school, and quality time with your children.

On the same hand, you should strive to stay in good shape! There are many online workout routines that you can do right from home, but going to the gym may be a good way to have some alone time. Watching your health will set a good example for your children, and you will teach them from a young age that eating well and exercising properly is important.

Keep Your Children Busy

While you are at school, your children could take part in a sport, music class, or other hobby. It can be really beneficial for them to learn a skill now – one that they may take with them throughout life. Many colleges also offer childcare services, so contact your college to see if they have any such programs. Keeping children busy can help to educate them while you are receiving an education yourself. It’s a win-win situation!

Spend Time with Them

Taking time for yourself should never make you feel guilty, because a g and have enough time to focus on your studies, you can’t miss too much quality time with your children. The relationship that a child has with its parent carries throughout all of their life, and how you and your child interact now can set them up for success in the future. Go to the zoo, take them to the park, and play games with them. Explore new places with them. This will really help your children to get the most out of their childhood, and they will be incredibly grateful for that in the future.

This guest post is contributed by Piper McIntosh. You can reach her at piperlmcintosh@gmail.com.

#2GenCLE: Bringing a 2Gen approach to literacy to Northeast Ohio

While the 2 Generation approach to literacy has gained positive traction in recent years, many as of yet have not been introduced to this concept that is successfully changing the way families are served in communities across the nation. On Friday, May 11th, The Literacy Cooperative will be bringing 2Gen to Cleveland by hosting the 2Gen Literacy Summit, where we will explore family learning and service learning models first introduced at our Read Across America Luncheon on March 7th by Sharon Darling, President and Founder of the National Center for Families Learning.

So what does 2Gen mean exactly? 2Gen aligns and coordinates services for children, parents, and caregivers. Because research continually shows that a parent’s education level dramatically affects the educational success of their children, 2Gen understands that early childhood and adult education are intertwined in the life of a family, and therefore need to be addressed simultaneously in a matter that includes the family as a whole. While traditional program models have generally treated early learning and adult literacy as separate issues, they have provided a somewhat fragmented solution to literacy improvement for families. The 2Gen approach considers the needs of adults and children in their lives together. It designs and delivers services that support improved economic, educational, health, and social outcomes on an integrated, inter-generational pathway.

According to the National Center for Families Learning, 2Gen empowers families to work, play, read, and learn together and as individuals. Parents develop simultaneously as learners, educational role models, and teachers of their children, while children experience positive gains in language, literacy, emotional, and cognitive development. In other words, when families learn together, learning becomes a shared activity that builds excitement around education in both children and parents. As parents gain literacy skills, their confidence in their own skills grows and becomes evident to their children. Likewise, as children watch their parents engage in education, they are inspired to do the same and to view learning as a positive activity that they can share with the adults in their lives. As a result, literacy becomes not only beneficial to each individual, but a bonding experience for families with lasting effects.

Many organizations nationally are currently providing learning programs for the entire family. An example of this might be a program where adults work on obtaining their GED while their children participate in age-appropriate learning activities in the same location, or an event where adults and children work on learning skills together. A model such as this eliminates the worry over childcare for adult learners who previously experienced this as a barrier to continuing education. It also provides added benefits to children as their parents learn skills to improve the economic well-being of the family. According to the National Center for Families Learning, there are a few key components to a 2Gen family literacy service. These include:

  • Interactive literacy activities between parents and children
  • Training for parents regarding how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children
  • Parent literacy training that leads to economic self-sufficiency
  • Age-appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences

The Literacy Cooperative is committed to spreading the 2Gen approach throughout Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, and invites you and your organization to participate in a day of discussion that will introduce the key components of a 2Gen approach and showcase local organizations that are integrating 2Gen into their programs. We will build connections, and solicit input for a 2Gen Call to Action. We hope you can join us for this exciting event that will feature Dr. Jeri Levesque of the Center of Effort LLC as the keynote speaker. Dr. Levesque evaluates family learning programs in Detroit and Flint Michigan, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas City, Missouri. We will feature Lynn McGregor of the National Center for Families Learning as our lunchtime speaker. Lynn was one of the key planners of the 2Gen work that started in Detroit, Michigan. Our expert panels include representatives from Invest in Children, Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland-Cuyahoga Count, The Centers, University Settlement, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Family Connections, Slavic Village P-16, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Literacy in the HOOD. You will have an opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas, and challenges in a facilitated breakout session that will be included in a community call to action. Join the discussion by registering here!