As you can imagine, going back to school while you have children has been a huge challenge. Her boys are old enough to go to school, which helps immensely, but she still has to schedule her classes around their schedule and make alternate plans when the public schools close for snow days and the college campus does not. She’s had to do a fair bit of juggling since going back to school, but now that her boys are 12 and 14, it makes it a lot easier than it would have been if they were younger.
Also, being engaged helps a ton. She met her fiance online as they had a ton of Facebook friends in common. They started chatting, but with Sarah’s lack of babysitters and close family, she was never able to get out of the house. They didn’t meet until they realized that they lived extremely close to one another. "After he came over a third night, I got the news that a dear friend of mine's 2-year-old daughter had died,” she explained. “He came right back over when I told him what happened. He held me while I cried and stayed with me till I was able to fall asleep. We realized shortly after that we were falling in love. The rest is history, I suppose!”
Sarah is expecting a new baby — a daughter — and her due date is April 30. This is very close to the end of spring semester, so Sarah has enrolled in online classes for the next few months.
She has a plan, though, for pregnancy and college: “I’m thinking I might drop in on each of them during their regular office hours to introduce myself (and my big ol' belly) so that they'll be able to see with their own eyes that I do have special circumstances that may need to be considered. Plus, I'm planning on trying to get all my assignments done a little ahead of schedule just in case. And likely, unless she's a good week or more overdue, I’ll be taking finals online whilst breastfeeding a newborn!”
Sarah isn’t 100 percent sure what path she’ll travel after her baby is born. Her little girl will be 4 months old when fall semester begins and she’s not sure if she’ll be going back part time then, or even going back at all. “I've been rather disappointed with what college has to offer, as it turns out,” she explained. “Every semester, I've done a great deal of soul searching about the large amount of debt I'm going into in order to pursue this degree — and I feel I’m getting almost nothing in return so far.”
When Sarah weighs the potentials that having a degree can bring (such as marketability when job hunting) against accumulating debt and time spent away from her kids in terms of schoolwork, she’s not sure if going back is the right choice for her. “I’m just not sure,” she said. “And the longer I go to school, the more I'm leaning toward it not being the right thing to continue doing.”
She does feel that going to school has made her a stronger person, and shown her what she’s capable of doing. She feels like college has helped connect more strongly and deeply within her own self, and she’s grateful for that.
Are you thinking about going back to school? Sarah has the following advice for you: ”No matter your own personal obstacles, the only way you'll know if it's right for you is if you try. If you don't at least try, you'll never actually know.”
When asked what the future holds for her, she replied, quite wisely, “We never really know, do we? I know my present holds more gifts and blessings than I thought I'd ever get to have. Two incredible sons who are becoming admirable young men right before my eyes (*sniff*), the true and great love I always dreamed of yet never had the courage to hope for, and a daughter, my own daughter — finally! I can't imagine the future holding anything more wonderful than what I already have.”
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