A generation or two ago, it was common for women to drop out of college to start a family, even as the men finished their degree and went to work. More recently, some spouses (either father or mother) put their career on hold to raise a family. Whatever the reasons, many are finding it necessary or desirable to return to school to get an advanced degree or updated training needed for a new job. Some divorces settlements will make special accommodations to spouses going back to school. You may wish to consult with an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in regard to your legal options before your final decree of divorce has been signed by the Court.
Five tips that you can adapt to fit your needs and goals as an adult student:
Don‘t rush it: It may be tempting to get that new degree as soon as possible, but there is a lot of change in your life, not to mention the fact that you may still have a variety of parenting duties. Speak with an academic advisor – your situation is not as unusual as you may think. They can provide insight on how to successfully balance family and school responsibilities.
Prioritize organization: While you may have used a typewriter when you were last in school, you likely have access to or own a laptop or tablet. Use tools you feel comfortable with, including taking notes with a pen and notebook – recent research shows that tablets and laptops are not as effective or useful for taking notes in class as you may think. Nevertheless, get a new laptop (using that student discount) if yours is old or unreliable. Use the calendar and also make sure that you and your ex have access to one to keep track of the kids’ activities. “Our Family Wizard” is one on-line application often utilized by divorced parents to communicate regarding scheduling of children’s activities.
Create a financial plan: This can help you map out the cost of your degree, how much money you have available to spend on school, and how much more is needed to cover your monthly expenses. This may impact your choice of schools, but also speak with financial professionals about tuition, fees and other expenses. Use a spreadsheet on your new computer to help track expenses and payments.
Treat the classroom like an office: Dedicate yourself to doing the work regardless of whether the degree is a “bucket-list” item or a new career path. Connect with your teacher, contribute to discussions, and network with peers. Being active in class will often lead to unexpected opportunities.
Whether the goal is finding better fulltime work or setting a good example for your children, going back to school will take time and effort. It can nevertheless also be quite rewarding to move on to the next phase of your life and make new choices about how you want to define yourself and your life goals.