The student mom: How to choose the right university
The best way to continue your education and professional development is to earn your bachelor's or master's degree. With so many different universities out there, though, it can be challenging to find the institution that best meets your needs. Consider these guidelines as you choose the right university for yourself — and your family.
The first thing to consider and look into when contacting universities is their degree plans. Since some universities have better programs for certain degrees than they do for others, what you want to study might determine where you study. You will need to have some direction, even if you have not fully decided what you would like to study.
Thoughtfully consider which college within the university you want to apply to and research the program's reputation both in the community and in the marketplace.
While the cost of tuition is on the rise and your family's budget will likely be as well, make an appointment to visit with the financial aid office at the universities you are researching. Financial aid officers are the experts on which scholarships are available for all incoming students, whether they are coming from high school, transferring from another university or are entering as a nontraditional student — such as a student mom. There are scholarships that will be available at all universities, but there are many private scholarships that are only offered at specific institutions, and some are even limited for specific areas of study.
If finances are an issue — and they usually are — consider which school will help you get the most money to pay your tuition.
If you have any intention of stepping foot on campus, its location and proximity to where you conduct the rest of your life — live, work, where the children go to school, etc. — is key. Even if you take the majority of your classes online, you should consider if attending graduation is important to you and if traveling is feasible.
The further away a university is, the more you have to rely on yourself to get things done. However, universities that offer online programs are set up to advise and provide other services over the phone.
Online course offerings
Going back to school might be easier if you quit your day job, but that is not necessary. A lot of universities offer online courses that meet the unique needs of working parents. This offering is particularly helpful if you do not live near a large city or credible university. Online courses appeal to many moms because it they some flexibility alongside the rigor and accountability of any advanced education program.
Enrolling in online courses requires you to have a reliable computer and be self-disciplined. Ashford University is an accredited online university and a great program to look into. It provides a wide variety of classes both online and in the classroom and offers the flexibility to fit nearly any schedule.
As a mom, you deserve to have fun and enjoy the college experience, but your priority is to receive a degree that will translate into a job. You need to know if the university is equally intentional in helping you find a job. If the university has a career services office, they are likely set up to help you transition from learning in their classes to actually working and beginning your career. Ask them about job fairs, resume and interview services, and networking opportunities within your field of study.
At a reputable school, employers will actually seek out university graduates — this is the experience you want.