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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

June 18, 2012

Online University Experience

Going to college as a parent.

Say the word "student," and many people will think of kids. School kids on a playground; high school kids hanging out by their lockers; there’s even the common phrase "college kids" to talk about young adults at a university.

But at an online university built for busy working adults like WGU, the connection between "student" and "kids" is a different one.

Parent. Grandparent. Stay-at-home mom. Stay-at-home dad. Working mom. Working dad. Mother-to-be. Father-to-be.

Going to college as a parent

There are lots of ways WGU students and kids go hand-in-hand—and going back to school with kids can be tough.

Luckily, you’re not alone—thousands of other WGU students have had (and are currently having) the experience of going to college as a parent, and they have some great advice, insights, tips, and tricks to share with you (and with each other on WGU’s Facebook page).

  • "Never let your studies get in the way of watching your children grow," Joe says. "That's why you go to school—to enjoy your fruits of giving the freedom to do so."
  • "I would say network, network, network!" Corinne advises. "I have twin 18-month-olds, and it is so hard to get a good chunk of time to write papers. See if someone can watch the kids a few hours one or two days a week so you can get out of your house to a place that is peaceful to study and write papers."
  • Veronica’s 6-month-old son wants to do everything Mom does—which can be cute, but it can also make studying hard. "I bought him a special notebook so when I write in mine he gets his out to do ‘homework.’ Otherwise he was coloring all over mine. On his iPad are a bunch of programs, so I tell him it’s study time and he goes to his letter/numbers/etc. and practices."
  • Jennifer agrees: When Mom learns, the kids learn too. "Get them involved in their own educational experience. My 8-year-old is getting ready to take a test to skip his next grade level and my 4-year-old is getting ready to start school this fall. We spend the morning working on their ‘school work’ and then the afternoon doing something fun like water balloons so that in the evening I can do my school work. They understand why I work so hard on school, and since I’m studying to be a biology teacher there are so many things that I can take the kids to do that interest all of us."
  • For Christine, it’s all about time management. "My advice would be to be resourceful with your time. It can be quite impossible to set aside a few hours a day just for school, so you need to be creative. Take your computer to your kids’ activities. I've even brought mine to a doctor’s appointment—you would be surprised how much time you just sit and wait there. Carry paper with you at all times so you can write down your ideas. Record the need-to-know info for your next exam on a tape recorder, and listen to it while you drive. Use your work breaks to read or study. Find moments in the day where you are being a spectator, or waiting around, and make them WGU moments."
  • "I’m a stay-at-home mom, and since starting back to school, I’ve learned to utilize every second of nap time for working on schoolwork," Hannah says. "Then, when Daddy gets home, I hand over the reins and ‘lock’ myself in our bedroom and finish whatever I didn’t get done during nap time."
  • Kristin reminds us that going to school as a parent is a sacrifice—one you make for important reasons but one you must be willing to embrace. "You're already used to living off of little sleep with kids; get used to even less," she says. "I schedule my proctored assessments to be at least 1.5 hours after bedtime so that there’s a good chance they’re in a deep sleep and unlikely to wake up in the middle of the exam. So far it has worked well."
  • For Amy, helping with homework goes both ways. "Don’t be too proud to let your kids help you with homework! My daughter just took pre-AP math in 6th grade and has actually been able to help me out in QLT1! Also, remember to take time out for yourself! I am a single mom of three kids and sometimes I just need to chill myself to get recharged."
  • Amber thinks of study time as story time: "It doesn’t matter what you read to your kids as long as you read, so read your text books out loud. Who knows what they might learn?"


Share your story of being a parent and student, and inspire other people like you to go back to school. 

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