A Mom’s Guide for Finding the Right Degree

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Going back to school can be intimidating. Applications, book buying, scheduling… the list of things to worry about is seemingly endless. Plus you’re changing diapers, or packing lunches, or carpooling to soccer practice. On top of it all you’ve got to figure out what degree you want to pursue. For some this might be a no brainer—you’re going back to school with a specific career in mind. For others it’s a bit more open ended. This article is for you. If choosing a degree has you stressed, here are 3 things you might want to consider:

1. What are your passions?

This seems cliché, but passions are very relevant to this conversation. School will rank below family life so it makes sense to study something you’re interested in. Late night paper writing and study sessions are going to be much more difficult if you’ve chosen a degree just for practicalities sake. Think about what you love. What excites you? School isn’t easy, but you can certainly make it enjoyable. Your grades will reflect your level of interest. When you graduate, you’ll want to graduate with a degree you’re proud of. If you don’t like what you’re studying chances are you won’t like the career field post graduation. Be a little selfish—study what you love.

2. How much time can you devote to your education?

Once you’ve got your passions sorted out, it’s time to be a bit realistic. Take a good look at your home life and schedule. Much depends on the ages of your kids. If you’ve got diapered tots running around you might have to work at a slower pace, so take fewer units. You don’t have to have everything figured out yet, but you should have an estimate of how many years you can spend in school. Think about finances and stamina. Don’t start something that’s impossible to finish. Make goals and plan out your path to a degree. Some degrees are more rigorous overall, requiring a higher amount of units. That might not be an option for you. Schools often provide a sample roadmap. Look at this and see if it’s practical for you. Of course you can customize it according to your own needs, and that’s important. At the end of the day you’ve got to keep your family in mind, and time will be a huge factor.

3. What kind of job is compatible with family life?

Finally, it’s important to look beyond the degree. Think about life after your graduate and what field you want to work in. If your kids are getting older you might have more time to devote to your career. If they’ll still be young or you plan on having more, you’ll want to look at fields willing to accommodate you. At the end of the day you love your kids and your family but you also need to love yourself. That means pursuing your dreams and taking time for yourself. Going back to school is exciting, but keep in mind it’s just the beginning.

Try to make this a fun experience! Take time to figure out why you want to go back to school. There are endless reasons and they all depend on the person. Be excited about it! Include your kids. Think about your future and their future. It’s going to be overwhelming at times but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forge ahead. Push through the stressful times. You’ll be a college graduate with a degree perfect for you—it’s possible.

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Paige Dinneny is a recent graduate of Biola University. Born and raised in Southern California, she currently lives in Long Beach and is now pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction at Cal State Long Beach. Her days are filled with many jobs including social media marketing, retail and this! She spends her free time writing, watching the Game Show Network and going to concerts.