WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--While school children across the U.S. make their annual return to the classroom, many parents are also preparing to resume their own studies. With only 27 percent of working adults in the U.S. having a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, growing numbers of adults are enrolling in college to help further their careers. To make the smoothest transition to a balanced family-career-study schedule, parents returning to school should take care to garner the support of their spouse and children.
“Going back to school is really a family decision and takes commitment and effort from every family member,” said Dr. Lisa Kincaid, a professor of psychology at Strayer University. “Parents should talk to their children about the reasons they are returning to college, including the personal and professional benefits, and set expectations about how this additional time commitment will affect the family.”
Adults with a bachelor’s degree have an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, nearly half the 10.3 percent unemployment rate of individuals with only a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Bachelor’s degree holders also make at least 40 percent more in weekly earnings than their counterparts with only a high school diploma, according to the BLS.
For Kenneth McKenzie, a 48-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident and father of two teenagers, the new school year means family study sessions. He is earning an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Strayer University.
“My daughters and I incorporate our studies as part of our family time together, sometimes doing our homework together at the kitchen table. We compare grades, too,” said McKenzie, senior vice president of customer services for Airbus Americas. “My eldest daughter Monika is beginning to look at colleges and think about what career may be right for her, so we’ve talked about my career based on my courses and she has developed a bit of an interest in business.”
As a busy executive, McKenzie said his wife and family’s support are key to his academic success.
Single parents also build a support system by reaching out to their network of family and friends, Kincaid said, noting that seeing parents go back to school can be a source of inspiration for children.
“Children can learn the importance of education and that it is never too late to achieve a goal,” Kincaid said. “Witnessing a parent opening themselves to new ideas and new possibilities can teach children that it’s never too late to go back to school.”
According to Kincaid, the following are some essential tips for parents to consider when returning to college:
- Talk with your spouse – It is important that any decision to return to college have the support of both spouses. The additional time devoted to going to classes, studying and preparing for exams will require a shift in responsibilities.
- Tap into your network – Single parents can create a network of support consisting of friends and extended family to help them achieve their goal of earning a degree. Do not be afraid to ask for help with important household considerations, such as childcare.
- Make your children part of the team – Children love to have a sense of responsibility and to be helpful to their parents. Explain your educational goals to them and help them understand how they can help you succeed. Group study sessions are one way to create a parent-child bond.
- Plan ahead – Take inventory of your home logistics: chores, meals, childcare, children’s activities and exercise routines. Make a plan for a shift in the division of responsibilities while you are in school. Make sure everyone involved – spouses, children, extended family and friends – understand their role.
- Review the family budget – How will the cost of college affect the family budget? Will you pay for it out of savings, borrow money or does your employer offer a tuition reimbursement program? There are many options to help pay for school today. Have discussions with school advisors and others to determine what makes the most sense for you.
- Consider your present lifestyle –Returning to school will require a commitment to spend some of the time you were spending on other activities, including your children’s extracurricular activities, on attending classes, studying and completing assignments. If you have been out of school for awhile, getting back into the habit of studying will likely take a focused effort on the part of the entire family.
About Strayer University
Strayer University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has been in operation since 1892. The University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, information technology, human resource management, education, health services administration, public administration and criminal justice. With approximately 57,000 students, Strayer University operates 93 campuses in 23 states and Washington, D.C., as well as worldwide via the Internet. For more information, visit www.strayer.edu or call 1-888-4-STRAYER (888-478-7293).