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by Kenia Cueto

Planning for the Unexpected Via an Education

Life is an unpredictable journey with a dose of unexpected curve balls at every corner. It is no wonder many moms find it difficult to return to college strapped with the multifaceted duties of home and work.

Most moms take on their role as parent and family supporter with pleasure and humility, leaving behind their personal needs. Raising their families comes first while their personal goals are set on the back burner. Instinctively, the thought of change or returning to college doesn’t cross their minds until the unexpected happens. Planning on starting an education shouldn’t take place during a life-changing event but, rather, planned strategically as a long-term goal.

Three Phases of Motherhood

When a young woman becomes a mom, she plans her life according to her new family. For most women, the transition into the three phases of motherhood comes naturally. The first phase of motherhood is somewhat of a rite of passage as she embraces adulthood and is forced to mature at a more rapid pace. The new assignments she takes on involve essential steps, which are the foundation for her family formation.

As years transpire, during the second phase, she finds that the ability to complete tasks and plan projects become second nature. What was once a scary or unfamiliar chore is completed without a sweat. Her family and those around her begin to rely on her expertise, her ability to multitask and her worldly experiences. In the third phase, the role of a “mom” exudes assurance, emanates power and the title “mom” is taken on with pride as she sees her family flourish.

Self-Awareness is Crucial

Attaining self-awareness of personal future needs during these three phases of life can prove to be a challenge. Moms find creative ways to balance family but tend to lose focus on planning for their personal future stability.

The strength moms possess are potential assets that can be utilized in the workplace should she return. Multitasking, organizational skills, time management and the willingness to get work done are amazing strengths moms can transfer into a work environment. Skills alone, however, are not sufficient without a degree in hand. Therefore, creating an academic plan based on the strengths one possesses can minimize many years of guessing. For example, if a mom finds joy in volunteering for her child’s school yearbook, she may want to look into a career in graphic design, journalism, communications, photography or marketing. A volunteer mom who spends most of her time volunteering in the school office may find pleasure in majoring in administration, education or counseling. Double dipping is a great way to utilize time wisely. Finding a degree that can benefit both at home and in the workplace will allow moms to feel less guilt or apprehension when investing time on herself.

The corporate world places little to no value on the time moms spend raising their children, fundraising or volunteering. Stay-at-home moms who return to the work-force struggle to be recognized as the competent, organized, strong women they have become. The devaluation of a stay-athome mom may not seem harsh during the healthy periods of life, however, the effects are felt when times get tough.

During a sudden life change, the mom must be prepared to take on the role of the breadwinner. Self-assessment at every phase in a mom’s life should take place with serious thought of what may occur in future years.

Where to Start When There is Fear & Anxiety

In recent years, women’s traditional roles as wives and mothers have been challenged. Educational opportunities for women are expanded as an increasing number of women are entering professional occupations.

With the advent of the internet and multimedia, college and university information is easily obtained. The online format for the non-traditional student was created predominately for the adult learner (moms) and their busy lifestyle. Online learning also created a more comforting format for the returning adult learner, as they no longer are required to feel the fear and anxiety of attending class with their younger counterparts or feel the pressures of matching their academic skills. According to Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest college student loan company, students 22 and older make up 58% of the college population. The choice to select online versus traditional format has been growing in leaps and bounds giving moms the opportunity to achieve their academic goals.

Due to the growing influx of returning adult students, the reputation of online schools no longer carry a negative connotation as its status has changed. Large universities, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, have embraced these learning styles. Finding the proper, regionally accredited colleges, which assist and guide the non-traditional student toward success, is crucial. If needed, the moms must be willing to invest time in registering for foundational courses that will allow them to build self-esteem and prepare for more demanding course work. Finding a support system at home and with other similar students will also enhance scholastic performance. Fear and anxiety are normal feelings that can hinder academic success or propel the student to their final destination.

Mothers are their children’s first teacher therefore, her child will continue to learn as she steps into the academic world to become a leader and a living example of what a dedicated, focused and goal oriented student should aspire to become.

Kenia Cueto
Profession Education & Career

Kenia is an Education Counselor/Recruiter at Vanguard University of Southern California, School for Professional Studies. Read more about Kenia here.