Must-Dos for Prioritizing Family & School

by Robin Johnson
(Ohio, USA)

Time feels limited, nearly non-existent. Despite full-time jobs and a family to support, you made the decision to return to school— and graduate. To return to school as an adult is a serious decision that requires resources, including money, dedication and time. You can't afford to not put 100 percent into attending classes, studying and earning that degree. Feeling overwhelmed while juggling academic and familial priorities is most likely an understatement. Settle your stress and manage your life as a student with the following suggestions:

Develop a Long-Term Plan

The Back to College Toolkit serves as a comprehensive guide that you and your family can refer to while creating a new lifestyle that accommodates your family's needs while you dedicate a majority of your time to class and studying. Note the length of time it will take you to complete your program and set boundaries. For example, your family may need to sacrifice a summer vacation or certain luxuries to financially support your education.

Stay Organized

If you've never been particular about your schedule and organization, now is the time to start using iCal or buy a traditional day planner— and live by it. By preparing for your week ahead in detail and establishing long-term goals in writing, you can eliminate potential stress and frustration, such as overlooking an assignment or forgetting about your child's doctor's appointment. Relying on random Post-it notes, a class syllabus, emails and text messages is chaotic. Commit to keeping all your projects, exams, meetings and appointments in a central location. Graduate!CT recommends using a three-ringed binder divided with color-coded tabs for the most structured organization solution.

Define Your Goal

If you want to be successful, you'll need to clearly articulate what you're trying to achieve. More importantly, define why you're embarking on this journey. Do you want to be the CEO of a major corporation like Ernst & Young's Mark Weinberger? If so, it's safe to say you'll need a fair balance of real-world experience and post-graduate education, like business leader Weinberger, to succeed. Are your goals more modest? Do you simply want to provide a better life for your family by finding a career that can provide financial stability? Do you want to do something you love? Find your reason, articulate it and remember it. You'll need it later when things get tough.


Communication with your partner in advance helps prevent future arguments or resentment.To accommodate your busy schedule, your spouse will most likely have to pick up the slack around the house. Without pre-determined negotiations and a mutual understanding, your relationship can become strained if you unexpectedly rely on your spouse to take on more family responsibilities and obligations. Even though you're the one who's going back to school, the decision must be made and accepted by you and your spouse because it will change the dynamic of the entire family. Your family is also going to be your support system so it's imperative everyone's on board.

Be Committed

Without steadfast, long-term commitment, you're predisposed to discouragement and mental setbacks. Commit to commitment! Tell yourself that not putting in 100 percent effort into your academics is not an option. For an endeavor that typically spans two years to complete, staying motivated on a day-to-day basis is a mental challenge.

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