By Shawna Marlay
Making the decision to return to school isn’t an easy one, especially if you have children. Raising children requires a lot of time, patience, energy and money. Juggling parenting with school work is a big responsibility that requires detailed planning. There are five things that you should consider before deciding to go back to school, especially if you are a parent.
1). Paying for School
First of all, you must establish how you are going to pay for school. Obtaining a post-secondary education can be quite costly. According to, a CBC News report released September 11, 2013, the average tuition fees in Canada in 2012-2013 totaled $6,348 and are expected to hit $7,437 in 2016-2017. These figures do not include the cost of books, course materials or living expenses, such as rent, food or transportation. If you do not have enough money to cover these costs there are options to help you pay for your education such as government student loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships. To find out what programs you qualify for visit www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca and click on “paying for post-secondary education”. This is an official Government of Canada site where you will find everything you need to know regarding how to budget and pay for your education.
2). Childcare issue
If you have a preschooler, childcare is of utmost importance. Taking on the role of a full-time student requires a lot of time and dedication. A reliable child care provider is important for your success. The last thing you want is someone unreliable causing you to miss classes and fall behind in your school work. Unfortunately, the cost of daycare can be a roadblock for some. There are licensed and unlicensed child care services available in Toronto with fees ranging anywhere from $800 to $2,000 per month per child. While licensed centres tend to be more costly than private unlicensed providers there are various factors to consider.
An unlicensed provider is not regulated by the City and therefore does not undergo regular inspections to ensure the safety and security of your child. It is therefore important to research and weigh your options. If money is an issue, help is available from the City. The City of Toronto offers subsidized child care for those who qualify. You must apply in order to be considered for this service and there is a wait list. The sooner you apply the better. Information about child care can be found at www.toronto.ca. Organizing child care before starting school will minimize stress and maximize your chances of academic success.
3). Budgeting Your Time
You will also want to consider how you will spend your time. For each course you take you should budget time for studying and completing assignments. The amount of time you set aside for each course will depend on the subject and your prior knowledge (if any). Opinions vary regarding how much time should be set aside for reviewing course material but a good place to start is an hour of review each week for every hour you spend in class. Classes are generally 3 hours long per week so you should budget at least 3 hours a week to review material plus time to work on assignments (i.e. essays).
You will want to have time with your family too, and if your child is involved in extracurricular activities, you need to fit that into your schedule as well. You should take into account not only the time spent taking your child to and from these activities but also the physical effects on your body. Make sure you have time in your schedule to rest and recuperate to avoid burn out.
The fourth consideration is your support system. It is extremely helpful if you have the support and encouragement of your friends and family. Their decision to support your return to school can help you reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Getting into the habit of being a student requires a change in your lifestyle as well as your schedule. Therefore your decision does affect those around you. The person whose support you need the most is your spouse/partner. If this person is opposed to your decision to go back to school, you will have to contend with negative feelings that could lead to arguments, which will drain your energy and weaken your motivation. The support of your partner is not mandatory but it helps make your transition into student life a much smoother one.
5).What is Your Goal?
The fifth thing to consider is your goal. What do you hope to achieve by returning to school? Whether your goal is job security or a bigger paycheck, it is important to do your research. Unfortunately having a diploma or degree does not mean you are guaranteed a job in your field or a large paycheck. Therefore it is a good idea to research positions that are in high demand and growing. Ideally you want to pursue a career you’re passionate about and that is also financially rewarding. Your education is an investment in yourself and one that should be well-researched.
Attending school full-time can be exciting as it opens the door to new opportunities and experiences. Proper preparation and planning is the key to a successful scholastic journey. Knowing who you are, where you are now and where you want to be are the first steps of that journey.
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